Eagles running back Darren Sproles, who is entering the final year of his deal, is reportedly seeking a contract extension. This news comes from NFL insider Jason Cole, via Bleacher Report.
News leaked out earlier this week that Sproles was on the trading block and that teams had tried to contact the Eagles about trading for him. Two general managers I talked to said that the way that this has actually worked is that the Eagles were offering Sproles around the league to see what they can get for him.
However, in talking to an Eagles source, the Eagles source strongly denied that the Eagles are trying to trade Sproles at this point in time.
However, underneath all of these issues — whether the Eagles were offering him, whether they were not offering him, whether teams are trying to get a hold of him — is that Sproles is looking for a long-term deal as he enters his age 33 season. This is going to be a key component of whether any team will be willing to trade for Sproles and what the Eagles will ultimately do with him.
Before we get to the Sproles report, let's note that Cole has been hit or miss with Eagles news lately. He was wrong when he reported on April 19 the Eagles were close on a new deal with Fletcher Cox. He was right when he reported Sam Bradford was likely to ask for a trade and wanted out of Philadelphia following the Carson Wentz trade.
Back to the Sproles saga. Let's recap what's happened so far. As the Eagles' first OTA practice began on Tuesday, it was noted Sproles wasn't there. Then it was reported he hadn't attended a single workout all offseason. From there, Ian Rapoport reported the Eagles received trade offers for Sproles during the draft. After Eagles practice ended, Doug Pederson firmly stated the Eagles want to keep Sproles and that Sproles wants to be in Philadelphia.
Now Cole is presenting conflicting information on whether or not it was the Eagles who tried to trade Sproles. And while that's not exactly clear, the one thing that is that Sproles wants a new contract.
It's not hard to believe Sproles wants a new deal. As noted earlier, he's on the last year of his contract. But it's hard to see a team handing out a "long-term" deal to the 10-year NFL veteran. He turns 33 in a month from now. "Old" players have a hard enough time getting new contracts. It's even more difficult for "old" running backs.
Sproles is still a good player. He's arguably the best punt returner in the league. His offensive production is in question, though. He's coming off career lows in terms of yards per rush attempt and yards per reception. It's hard to imagine him bouncing back in a big way as he continues to age.
The Eagles are likely best served by holding on to Sproles in the short-term. It's hard to imagine them getting much in return for him considering all they traded to get him was a fifth round pick back in 2014. Philadelphia's depth chart at running back is thin. The injury-prone Ryan Mathews is hard to rely on as a full-time player over the course of a season. Fifth round pick Wendell Smallwood is only a rookie. Kenjon Barner isn't exactly proven.
Pederson said he expects Sproles to show up to the Eagles' mandatory minicamp when it begins on June 7. We'll see if that's the case.
UPDATE - Darren Sproles denies he wants a long-term contract.