💡 Get Philly smart 💡
with BP’s free daily newsletter
Read the news of the day in less than 10 minutes — not that we’re counting.
That LeSean McCoy jersey you bought probably won’t be too stylish anymore seeing as he’s no longer an Eagle. Anyone who bought a Nick Foles jersey can relate. Same with Cary Williams fans.
They’re all gone, of course. Everyone’s gone. It seems like that anyway, seems like coach Chip Kelly, given the keys to the franchise in January, has ditched all of his passengers at a rest stop and veered off in some other direction (Oregon?).
But are these moves really that uncommon? How much roster turnover should be expected in an offseason, especially for a team like the Eagles trying to make the jump from decent to great?
Billy Penn studied league trends and compared the Eagles’ recent and past roster moves. We also looked at where the Phillies and Sixers fit in with roster turnover in their respective leagues, and looked at which of the local franchises has had the most roster changes the last few years.
Spoiler alert: Never date a Sixer. It would turn into a long-distance relationship immediately.
Seven Eagles players who were with the team at the end of the 2014 season either as part of the 53-man roster or the injured reserve list are now no longer on the roster. By this point in the offseason, that’s a lot of turnover.
Back in 2010, ESPN studied every NFL team’s roster by early June to see how many players had were left from the end of the previous year, counting those from the 53-man roster and from the injured reserve. The average team still had about 49 players left. The Eagles right now have 46. Again, that average number for NFL teams came from June. Kelly’s trades and willingness to let free agents go are way ahead of pace.
Expect much more turnover to come, too — for the Eagles and everyone else. The Boston Globe discovered the average NFL team lost 17 players from its final roster in 2013 by the start of 2014. Obviously, most turnover happens in the summertime, after teams fully evaluate draft picks, undrafted free agents, new pickups and veterans.
From the end of 2013 to the start of the season in 2014, the Eagles shed 20 players, so Kelly was above the league average for this part, too. Is this smart? Depends on the franchise. Some have had success overhauling their roster year after year and showing no loyalty to veterans, and others have kept much of their roster together.
The year before the Seahawks’ Super Bowl victory in the 2013-14 season, the Seahawks went 11-5 and made the playoffs. They shed 21 players from the end of that year by the start of their Super Bowl winning season.
NFL.com studied 2014 rosters of every NFL team and checked how many players played at least one game for their current team in 2011. Most of the top NFL teams had the least amount of roster turnover. But the Colts, AFC finalists last season, had the fewest players remaining, illustrating that extreme roster turnover works, too.
Kelly has nothing on Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie. The Sixers, as part of Hinkie’s grand plan, have turned cutting ties with current players into an art form. Getting rid of 20 of 53 players in one offseason puts Kelly at a 62 percent retention rate. Hinkie is way lower than that:
From the end of the 2012-13 season to the start of 2013-14 season, the Sixers dropped eight of the 15 players on their roster for a retention rate of 47 percent. Between the end of the 2013-14 season to the start of this season, they dropped nine for a retention rate of 40 percent.
The average NBA team loses 27 percent of its players in a given offseason, according to a study from the International Journal of Sport Finance that looked at several years of data. Hinkie’s lost 53 percent and then 60 percent of his roster over the last two years.
Here’s how the data looks for the amount of roster turnover for the Eagles and Sixers in their most recent offseason compared against each other and to the respective league average from the Boston Globe and International Journal of Sport Finance studies.
Other teams that have tried going from insignificant to contenders have taken a less-extreme strategy than the Sixers. The Toronto Raptors went from last in their division to first in the division from the 2012-13 season to the 2013-14 season. In that offseason, they shed six of their players. The New Orleans Pelicans have gone from one of the league’s worst teams last year to a playoff contender this year and only shed five of their players in the offseason.
Obviously, Hinkie has been turning over quite a few players during the regular season, too. Of the 15 players who started this year with Sixers, only nine remain.
And look: The Sixers aren’t even bothering to take pictures of players they add to their roster anymore. Does Furkan Aldemir exist?
The Phillies marched to the bottom of the league last year with a roster full of overpaid veterans. The good news for fans is that the roster is starting to look quite a bit different.
Eleven of the 40 players on the Phillies’ final September roster are no longer on the spring training roster (putting their offseason retention rate at about 73%, higher than the Sixers’ or Eagles’ most recent offseasons).
By another comparison, the change is even more drastic. Of last year’s 25 players on the team’s roster Opening Day last year, only 12 remain on the spring training roster. SportsOnEarth looked at every team from last Opening Day to now and found the league average to be 15 players. Woohoo! The Phillies are getting rid of more players than most other teams.
They’re also shedding more players than from the previous year. At this time in spring training 2014, the Phillies had 17 players left from their 25-man April roster in 2013.
Unlike basketball and football, baseball teams usually need much longer to rebuild. The Phillies might have to go through much more roster upheaval to become contenders again.
Philadelphia sports fans will get their first regular season glimpse of the Phillies on April 6. By then, of course, they might be dealing with the loss of 20 more Eagles players.