When the Eagles traded for Darren Sproles on Thursday morning, it came off as a bit of a surprise at first. The Eagles already have a lot of offense firepower, especially at the running back position. But when Chip Kelly is the head coach of your favorite football team, adding more talent on the offense should never shock anyone.
"Darren Sproles is an unbelievable offensive weapon. He can do it all, run, catch, plus he’s a proven winner," said Kelly. (And I have no way of knowing this but I'm assuming Kelly was smiling as he said that.) Sproles gives Kelly a talent who compares to previous Kelly running backs who can do more than just simply run the ball: players like De'Anthony Thomas and LaMichael James.
I've maintained that the Eagles were looking to add a scatback type of running back this offseason who could provide value as a pass catcher in Kelly's offense. That's why I wondered if the Eagles should look into a trade for LaMichael James, or even take a no-risk flyer on a player such as LaRod Stephens-Howling. But the decision to trade for Sproles tops both of those thoughts.
Sproles is a player that the Eagles reportedly had interest in signing back in 2011, but they ended up with Ronnie Brown instead. Now, three years later, they got their guy. Eagles general manager Howie Roseman admitted as much. "Darren Sproles is a player that we have admired for many years – he’s a proven performer at a high level," he explained.
Adding Sproles to an offense already stocked with talented players such as LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper, Brent Celek, Zach Ertz, and other depth players almost seems unfair. Think about how good the Eagles offense was in 2013. With the addition of Sproles, it has the potential to get even better. Opposing defenses will now have to worry about the threat of Sproles catching passes while LeSean McCoy is also on the field. Sproles lined up as a slot receiver is infinitely more dangerous as compared to last year when Jason Avant filled that position. 16.4% of Nick Foles' total passing yards came off of screens last year, which was the highest rate in the NFL. Sproles' prowess in the screen game makes him a perfect fit in that regard.
Some will complain that the Eagles gave up too much for a player that the Eagles didn't need and is too old, but I couldn't disagree more. If there was anything to take away from the 2013 season, it was that Chip Kelly clearly knows what he's doing on the offensive side of the ball. Let him have the weapons he wants. Especially when he describes their value as "unbelievable."
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