Shortly after the Eagles' first OTA practice began on Tuesday, it was reported how Darren Sproles hasn't attended a single practice in Philadelphia all offseason. Ian Rapoport then noted that the Eagles received trade offers for Sproles during the 2016 NFL Draft and that the veteran running back is "staying away from OTAs until it's sorted out." So are the Eagles actually going to trade the player they acquired two years ago?
"We had no decisions to [trade him] whatsoever," said Eagles head coach Doug Pederson after practice. "I want Darren Sproles on this football team. We want him on this football team. He’s a big part of this football team. That’s where we’re at."
So what about Sproles. Does he want to be traded?
"No, he does not," Pederson said.
The Eagles coach did confirm that Sproles has been away all offseason. Despite Sproles' absence, however, the two have kept in contact.
"He and I are in direction communication," he explained. "We’ve been talking all offseason. I have no issues with Darren. I fully expect him to be here for the mandatory [minicamp]. This is a voluntary program so I can’t fault him for [not] being here."
It's understandable why Sproles might not want to attend the Eagles' voluntary practices. He's going to turn 33 next month and he's on the last year of his contract. Pederson said he can relate to how Sproles is approaching this situation.
"I think where he is in his career, I’ve been there before too where sometimes you just want that break," said Pederson. "With him and his family being apart during the season, this is a time for him to really spend quality time with the family."
The Eagles are already very thin at running back even with Sproles in the mix. Ryan Mathews is projected to be the team's starter but he's injury prone and unreliable through a 16-game season. Fifth round pick Wendell Smallwood might not be ready for a full workload as a rookie. Sproles isn't a full time player either, but he's a valuable role player to have around.
For what it's worth, Pederson doesn't expect Sproles' absence to last much longer.
"He knows what it takes for himself to get ready to go and I fully expect him to be here in a couple of weeks."