Eagles fire Chip Kelly after three years: Four things to know

Chip Kelly is officially free to coach wherever he wants in 2016. In a shocking move, the Philadelphia Eagles announced on Tuesday that Kelly has been released from his contract.

"We appreciate all the contributions that Chip Kelly made and wish him every success going forward," Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said in a statement.

More >> Next up for Chip? | What about college? | Reactions | Players didn't know

In a separate letter, Lurie added that he made the decision to release Kelly after "Evaluating" the team's performance over the past three seasons. 

"I have made a decision to release Chip Kelly this evening," Lurie's letter said. "I spent the last three seasons evaluating the many factors involved in our performance as a team. As I watched this season unfold, I determined that it was time to make a change.  As we move forward, the search for a new head coach will begin and will be led by myself, Don Smolenski and Howie Roseman. To the extent that we are able, we will try to keep you informed as we go through this process."

The team will hold a press conference on Wednesday to officially announce Kelly's release. Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur will handle the team's coaching duties on Sunday during Philadelphia's regular season finale against the Giants. 

Besides Kelly, the Eagles also dumped Ed Marynowitz, the team's vice president of player personnel who was handpicked by Kelly. 

Kelly went 26-21 during his three seasons with the team. 

Here are three things to know about Kelly's firing. 

1. He still had two years left on his contract. When the Eagles hired Kelly in 2013, they gave him a five-year deal worth $32.5 million. Since Kelly only made it through three years of the contract, that means the Eagles will be on the hook for $13 million. However, it's possible that the two sides agreed to mutually part ways, much like Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers did last season. If that's the case, it would benefit the Eagles because they wouldn't owe him any more money and it would benefit Kelly because he'd be free to go out and get any job he wants, and Kelly will have no shortage of suitors.

On the other hand, if it was a flat-out firing, then Lurie's going to have to write Kelly a few more checks totaling the $13 million that the Eagles still owe him.  

2. Kelly wasn't a failure. The Eagles might be 6-9 now, but they weren't always bad under Kelly. In each of his first two seasons, Kelly won 10 games with the Eagles, including his first year in 2013, when he led the Eagles to a division title. The Eagles NFC East title in 2013 made Kelly just the second coach in NFL history to win a division title in his first year with a new team. 

Kelly's tenure won't go down as a rousing success, but it definitely shouldn't be remembered as a failure. What it should be remembered for is a lesson on why coaches should be careful when they ask for complete control. Kelly had total control of the Eagles roster, and he made several controversial moves over the past three seasons, like releasing DeSean Jackson and trading LeSean McCoy. Kelly also traded for a quarterback that didn't really fit his system. 

According to ESPN.com, Kelly's need for personnel control is what led to his firing. Lurie offered to let Kelly keep his job if Kelly would be willing to give up personnel control, but Kelly wanted no part of that offer. 

It's impossible to know if Kelly's system can thrive in the NFL until he has a quarterback who can run his system, which brings us to our next point. 

3. What's next for Kelly? The team you'll hear the most about over the next several days will be the Tennessee Titans. The Titans probably won't hang on to interim coach Mike Mularkey, which would open the door for Kelly to reunite with Marcus Mariota in Tennessee. However, don't go fantasizing about that just yet, Titans fans. 

CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora doesn't think Kelly to the Titans would make much sense at this point. 

If Kelly doesn't end up in Tennessee, you're going to hear a lot about him over the next several weeks because his name is going to pop up for pretty much any NFL job that comes open over the next month. Don't look for Kelly to go back to the college ranks. Shortly after he was fired, Kelly told Fox Sports' Jay Glazer that he wants to "remain in the NFL."

A potential move that would possible break the internet is Chip Kelly to Cleveland. Kelly tried to recruit Johny Manziel to Oregon while he was still a college coach. The Browns also went hard after Kelly in 2013, before hiring Rob Chudzinski, who was fired after one year and replaced by Mike Pettine. 

4. Eagles players had no idea Kelly had been fired. If you were surprised to hear that Kelly got fired, you're not the only one, apparently, no one broke the news to anyone on the Eagles roster before it happened. According to NJ.com, at least one player learned of the firing over Twitter. That player's reaction reaction? "I'm pissed."

At least one player might have seen this firing coming though and that player is DeMarco Murray. According to NFL.com, when Murray met with Lurie in early December, Murray told the Eagles owner that he had no confidence in Chip Kelly as a head coach. 

Chip Kelly has been released from his contract. (USATSI)
Chip Kelly has been released from his contract. (USATSI)
CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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