Free agency is about to officially begin and the Eagles have already made some moves to not only add some much needed cap space, but also to bolster certain position groups along the offensive and defensive lines — not to mention the wide receiver position. Now it’s time for Howie Roseman and the front office to make some moves at the running back position, especially given all the question marks surrounding it.
Here are six potential targets for Philadelphia to either sign or trade for as free agency gets underway.
Rumors started heating up last week that the Eagles might be a landing spot for the running back, who is entering his first NFL free agency. Drafted by the Falcons in 2015, Coleman just finished his rookie contract and saw a gradual increase in production since his rookie season.
Granted, Atlanta had a fairly full RB room, and Coleman was just one of the many pieces, but he managed 800 rushing yards last season on 167 carries, and started 14-of-16 games. He’s also a receiving threat, and with his 276 receiving yards, 2018 was his first season with 1,000-plus offensive yards — and had a career-high 9 total regular season touchdowns.
Given his production and experience, Spotrac puts Coleman’s annual market value at $5.3 million, or 4-years, $21.3 million which isn’t out of the realm of possibility for the Eagles.
Jordan Howard (trade)
It was reported that several teams were talking to the Bears at the NFL Combine about potential trade terms for running back Jordan Howard, and it wouldn’t be all that surprising if the Eagles were one of them. First and foremost, there’s the Joe Douglas connection, with the front office guy drafting Howard to Chicago back in 2016.
Howard also has one more year to play on his rookie contract, so depending on the terms, could be a fairly affordable option for the Eagles, and has had 1,000-plus offensive yard seasons each of his three years so far in the NFL — which include two terrible seasons for the Bears, where they finished 3-13, 5-11.
Duke Johnson (trade)
The Cleveland Browns have been making big waves already this offseason, and have added a lot of depth to their offense. One player they might be willing to part with, considering all the talent they’ve added, is rusher Duke Johnson. The Eagles were reportedly interested in making a trade for Johnson, according to a report from Andy Slater.
As BGN’s Brandon Gowton previously noted, Johnson is a different kind of offensive weapon, but one the Eagles could certainly add to their repertoire.
“Johnson could potentially replace Sproles’ role in the Eagles’ offense. The 25-year-old back isn’t so much a lead ball carrier — with just 4.7 rush attempts per game over his career — as much as he is an offensive weapon. In four years with the Browns, Johnson has logged 235 receptions for 2,170 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. He’s been a relatively efficient runner with 299 carries for 1,286 yards (4.3 yards per attempt) and five rushing scores.”
Johnson would be another relatively cheap option depending on what the Browns are looking for in return, but he’s set to earn $1.8 million, $3.6 million, and $4.65 million over the next three seasons.
The running back most recently from Kansas City has had a bit of an up and down career since being drafted in 2013 by Seattle. The Seahawks waived him just before the start of the 2014 season, and he spent the next few months unsigned, until being picked up by Andy Reid and the Chiefs.
He would miss his second season in 2017 after suffering a torn MCL and PCL during a preseason game. Ware was most recently signed to a 2-year, $3.6 million deal with Kansas City, and a similar short-term contract seems appropriate for the RB moving forward.
In 2018, he lined up for 24% of the team’s offensive snaps and had 51 carries for 246 yards and two touchdowns, plus 20 receptions for an additional 224 yards.
Ingram would serve as a much more experienced back than some of the other names on this list. He’s heading into his ninth season in the league, having spent his previous eight with the New Orleans Saints. (The Eagles have had quite a bit of success with players they’ve signed from New Orleans. Just saying.)
Ingram just finished up a four-year, $16 million deal in New Orleans, but saw a big dip in snaps last season with the emergence of Alvin Kamara. It was his first non-1,000 total offensive yards season since 2013, netting 815 between his 138 carries and 21 receptions. Part of that was also due to his four-game suspension to open the season due to PEDs.
He’s still got a lot of juice left in the tank however, and would be a good veteran presence to add to a running back room that includes young guys like Josh Adams, Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement.
One of the very smart decisions Howie made during the 2017 season was trading for Jay Ajayi. He can in right away and gradually grew into a featured back role, as the quick and shifty rusher to LeGarrette Blount’s ground and pound role. In seven regular season games that year, Ajayi had 70 carries for 408 yards and 10 receptions for 91 yards and 2 total touchdowns.
He was expected to make an even bigger impact in 2018, but a fractured back followed by a torn ACL sidelined him for the year and forced the Eagles to instead lean on the running back by committee approach that included guys with not a whole lot experience between them.
Ajayi was playing on the final year of his rookie contract last season, and the injuries he sustained may have driven his value down a bit. Still, Spotrac estimates his market value at $3.6 million a year, or 2-years, $7.3 million. A short-term contract to see if he can stay healthy and work back into that featured back role seems appropriate for the young back.
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