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August 02, 2015

Eagles coach Chip Kelly confused by Boykin's comments

UPDATE [2:10 p.m.] - Former Eagles quarterback Brandon Boykin clarified his statement about Chip Kelly, and made sure to point out that Kelly "is not a racist."

Quarterback Mark Sanchez also weighed in after practice:


Late Saturday night, on the eve of Eagles training camp, head coach Chip Kelly made another interesting move in an offseason that has been chock full of them. 

This time, it was trading cornerback Brandon Boykin to the Steelers in exchange for a conditional late-round draft pick in 2016.

Following the move, Boykin joined LeSean McCoy and others in saying that the reason they are no longer Eagles is because Kelly doesn't like -- or in this case, understand -- the black players on the roster.

In a text exchange with CSN Philly's Derrick Gunn, the 25-year-old cornerback wrote that Kelly is “uncomfortable around grown men of our culture.”

“He can't relate and that makes him uncomfortable,” Boykin added in the text message. “He likes total control of everything, and he don't like to be uncomfortable. Players excel when you let them naturally be who they are, and in my experience that hasn't been important to him, but you guys have heard this before me.”  []

On Sunday, as the Birds opened camp, Kelly told the media at NovaCare that while he understood Boykin was "stunned" and "disappointed," he was confused by why the former Eagle felt the need to make it personal.

“I don’t know. In talking to him last night, I think he was stunned, he was disappointed. He really liked it here,” Kelly said. "When he left here last night he shook my hand and gave me a hug, didn’t say anything. I like Brandon. I just don’t know. I really don’t know.”

Many were initially confused by the deal, considering Boykin was one of the few rays of light* escaping the black hole that was the in an Eagles secondary last season.

*Yes, science geeks and "Interstellar" fans, I know no light can escape a black hole.

And Kelly acknowledged as much, but that wasn't enough to keep the diminutive defensive back in midnight green, perhaps because the Eagles are looking to get taller at the cornerback position.

“I’ve always been a Brandon Boykin fan. I think he did an unbelievable job in the two and a half years I was with him and I wish him nothing but success,” Kelly said.

Recently, Jimmy Kempski wrote about how the Eagles like to keep consistent heights and weights among each of their positional corps. And if that's the case, Boykin certainly didn't fit.

Here's a look at the other cornerbacks on the Eagles roster:

 E.J. Biggers
Nolan Carroll
Byron Maxwell6-1207
Jaylen Watkins5-11194
Randall Evans6-0195
Denzel Rice6-0196
Eric Rowe6-1205
JaCorey Shepherd5-11199
Brandon Boykin5-10185

Aside from all being larger than Boykin, the other thing all those defensive backs have in common is that they're all black, which makes it difficult to give credence to his claims that race had much of anything to do with it.

And according to Kelly, there's now depth at a position that was one of the Eagles' weakest last season. That, coupled with his size and the fact that they were able to get something in return, made Boykin -- entering the final year of his contract -- expendable.

“It more speaks to what our depth was at the position,” Kelly said. “We’re going to have to make some tough decisions at corner and we’re not going to be able to keep them all.”

The Steelers, however, had been interested in Boykin for some time, according to the coach. So much so, that this isn't the first time Pittsburgh made an offer. 

“They actively pursued him. They wanted to trade for him at the draft and we turned it down,” Kelly said.

What sweetened the deal for the Eagles is that the fifth round pick they received from the Steelers becomes a fourth-rounder if Boykin plays 60 percent of his new team's defensive snaps this season.

Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin