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One remaining Eagles free agent target at each position: Running back

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The Eagles are interested in veteran backs. How many options do they really have?

NFL: New York Jets at Buffalo Bills Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

This week, I’ll be ripping through each position on the Eagles’ roster and looking at remaining free agents waiting for contracts either in training camp or in the seasons upcoming. Some positions could use a starting-caliber free agent and there isn’t one available; some don’t need much but have plenty of options on the current market. So for some it will be easy; and for some it will be hard.

Now, we’ll look at the position where we expect an eventual addition: running back


As we know it, the Eagles have had three targets on the free agent running back market. They wanted Carlos Hyde, who has already signed with the Seahawks, and they still want Devonta Freeman and LeSean McCoy, at some price tag. In that we’re certain the Eagles are targeting those players, we won’t discuss them here: but between the two, I’m more interested in McCoy making a triumphant return to Philadelphia.

But beyond those names already listed, does any other veteran RB make sense in Philadelphia? Here’s a list of current free agent backs besides Freeman and McCoy:

  • Lamar Miller (29 years old)
  • Theo Riddick (29 years old)
  • Darren Sproles (37 years old)
  • Marshawn Lynch (34 years old)
  • Bilal Powell (31 years old)
  • Isaiah Crowell (27 years old)
  • Robert Turbin (30 years old)
  • Kenjon Barner (31 years old)
  • Javorius Allen (29 years old)
  • Spencer Ware (28 years old)
  • C.J. Prosise (26 years old)
  • Jonathan Williams (26 years old)
  • Wendell Smallwood (26 years old)

Projecting which profile of running back the Eagles need is an interesting exercise. On the current roster, the Eagles don’t have a back over the age of 25 years old — that’s both Boston Scott and Corey Clement. Entrenched starter Miles Sanders is 23, while roster fringes Elijah Holyfield (22), Adrian Killins (22), and Mike Warren (21) fill out the rest of the roster. There is a need for a veteran in the room, especially when you consider that Sanders has some shaky habits as a processor of blocks that a veteran could help him work through.

As such, it’s unlikely that the Eagles add a particularly young back — I’m guessing that they’ll stick to established players.

Now, when you look at the styles of backs the Eagles currently have on the depth chart as opposed to years past, the prototype that seems to be missing is the power back. The Eagles added LeGarette Blount during 2017 free agency on a one-year deal and traded for Jordan Howard for the 2019 season — both were veteran bangers who were useful as consistent runners, even if they were eventually supplanted by more dynamic options (Jay Ajayi, Miles Sanders).

Now, neither Devonta Freeman nor LeSean McCoy is that power back type. But Isaiah Crowell is. He’s a veteran, but still relatively young, and has been a quality power back across the course of his six year career in the NFL. Originally drafted by the Browns in 2014, Crowell has never had a 1,000 yard season, but has also never put out less than 600 yards in a campaign. In each of his last three seasons, Crowell has averaged over 4 yards/carry and over 11 attempts/game, while also still offering a functional receiving option, with 44 targets per season.

Crowell was meant to join rookie Josh Jacobs in the Las Vegas backfield in 2019, but tore his Achilles during preseason workouts and never saw a snap. Of course, Jacobs ended up delivering on his draft capital and turning high volume into a great rookie season, so the Raiders didn’t need Crowell back this year. He still sits on the free agent market, as many injured players have, waiting for a contract.

Crowell is good enough to hang on the Eagles’ roster above all players but Sanders and take RB2 touches. He brings a skill set that the Eagles’ room doesn’t have, but which the coaching staff has typically wanted in the building. With a late contract coming off his injury, Crowell also represents a low-cost and low-risk option that, if unhealthy, won’t set the Eagles’ room far back.

The Eagles are still more likely to land on Freeman or McCoy, but they should add Crowell to their list of running back targets this offseason.

Poll

Which running back would you like the Eagles to sign in free agency?

This poll is closed

  • 16%
    Devonta Freeman
    (275 votes)
  • 20%
    LeSean McCoy
    (349 votes)
  • 50%
    Isaiah Crowell
    (863 votes)
  • 13%
    Other (comment)
    (227 votes)
1714 votes total Vote Now