Two NFL teams are expected to have interest in Eagles running back Ryan Mathews if Philadelphia selects Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott in the 2016 NFL Draft, according to a report from Tony Pauline. The Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers are the two teams who might be targeting Mathews.
I'm told if the Philadelphia Eagles select running back Ezekiel Elliott with the draft's eighth pick, the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers are two teams interested in Ryan Mathews, the Eagles' present starter. Insiders I spoke with think its unlikely Mathews is dealt to a divisional rival such as Dallas and question if they would trade him to a team now led by their former head coach.
This isn't the first time Mathews' name has come up in trade rumors this offseason. It was previously reported the Eagles made Mathews available. Howie Roseman even kind of confirmed that report when he said the Eagles wanted to "get value" for one of their running backs, and Philadelphia did that by trading DeMarco Murray's big contract to the Titans. Shortly after Murray was traded, however, NFL insider Adam Schefter reported the Eagles were not looking to move Mathews. Schefter said he expects Mathews to be on Philadelphia's roster in 2016.
Mathews is the Eagles' starting running back by default right now. Darren Sproles, who turns 33 in June, is a part-time player in the last year of his contract. Kenjon Barner had some nice moments last season but he also had some bad fumbles. Speaking of ball control, that's always been a big issue for Mathews. The former Chargers running back has also struggled with injuries throughout his career. It's going to be hard for Philadelphia to rely on him as their full-time starter over the course of a 16 game season, thus making running back a huge need for the Birds.
I'd think the Eagles plan to draft a running back, whether it's Elliott or not, and establish a running-back-by-committee featuring the rookie, Mathews, and Sproles. I don't think the Eagles are desperate to ship Mathews away. It would only save them $2 million in cap space versus the $2 million in dead money it would create. I do think the Eagles would move Mathews if a team approaches them with a good offer, however. The talented but flawed runner turns 29 in October and there's a decent chance he'll end up as a cap casualty after this season anyway.
Like Pauline, I don't think Dallas is a super realistic landing spot. They could opt to draft a running back to pair with Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris. Perhaps Chip Kelly's 49ers could be in play, though.
Meanwhile, the Eagles reportedly love "Elliott" and will pick him at No. 8 if both Jared Goff and Carson Wentz are off the board.
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