Since Darren Sproles was re-signed to a one-year deal with the Eagles, there’s been a fairly heated debate about whether his roster spot — which is almost assuredly guaranteed among the final 53-man roster — was wasted on a 36-year-old running back who has spent the better part of the past two seasons on the sideline with injuries.
There are a lot of aspects to the argument, from Sproles’ potential role in the offense and special teams — which isn’t perfectly clear at this point — to what this means for the other (much younger) running backs on the team.
I’m not really here to argue either side. Although, for the record, I am happy Sproles is back and think his veteran experience and unique skill set is a welcome addition to the locker room. But more than anything, I am beyond excited that the Eagles are currently in a situation with so many talented rushers and young backs with potential, that we are actually arguing among ourselves about whether a potential future Hall of Famer is actually a waste of a roster spot.
Think about that for a minute. Philadelphia was once a mecca for the NFL’s best rushers, from Brian Westbrook to LeSean McCoy, but the second that Chip Kelly traded away McCoy, the running back position for the Eagles has been a bit of a question mark at best. I hate to bring it up, but don’t forget the team was once rotating through some failed experiments like DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews.
Sure, we’ve had a great smattering of talent at the position under Doug Pederson with LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi — and without them, winning the Super Bowl would probably be something we are all still dreaming about —, but even heading into the 2019 offseason, fans were looking for a more long term solution.
Following the 2018 season, the Eagles’ running back room included guys with fewer than five seasons experience and a far longer list of injuries than anyone would like for such a young group. Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood, Josh Adams, Boston Scott and Donnel Pumphrey. That’s it. That’s the list.
The team added Jordan Howard, another young guy, but someone with a lot of in-game experience and proven success in Chicago, and then drafted a rusher with a ton of potential in Miles Sanders.
Those seven running backs have a combined 15 years of NFL experience. Darren Sproles alone has 15. So, while the Eagles have a ton of young potential to develop and build around, having Sproles in the locker room to help mold and motivate those coming up is valuable.
The arguments about having Sproles back for one more season are sure to continue, but I’d rather be having that argument than worrying about the running back position as a whole — like we’ve been doing for the last five years.