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Should the Eagles trade for Raheem Mostert?

Another running back option is on the market. Does he make sense in Philadelphia?

Philadelphia Eagles v New York Jets Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images for New York Jets

It’s no secret that the Eagles need another running back on their roster — or at least, they’re looking hard at the veteran roster. I’ve taken a look at both of their favorite veteran options, LeSean McCoy and Devonta Freeman, and even suggested another option. But suddenly, there’s a new option on the market — and it’s a familiar face. San Francisco RB Raheem Mostert, an integral part of the 49ers’ playoff run, is demanding a trade.

Mostert’s NFL career has been a wild one, and it started in Philadelphia. After going undrafted out of Purdue, Mostert was picked up by the Chip Kelly Eagles to join a roster with DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews, and Darren Sproles. At the time, Murray was fresh off of a 2014 season in which he led the league in rushing and the Cowboys, and Mathews was considered a quality option when healthy, and a good committee back. They were joining Sproles, a snug fit for the Chip Kelly offense — and as such, the running back room didn’t need anyone.

Mostert’s preseason was great, but so was Kenjon Barner, who had the added advantage of playing on Chip Kelly’s Oregon squad for four seasons. As such, the Eagles elected to keep four running backs, but it was Barner who got the edge of Mostert, who stuck on the Eagles’ practice squad for only a few weeks that season before he was poached by the Miami Dolphins.

From Miami, Mostert bounced just about everywhere — Baltimore, Cleveland, New York, and Chicago — before landing in San Francisco in 2016. For the next few seasons, he would vacillate between the active and inactive rosters before his explosion at the end of 2019. Across the final five contests of the regular season, and in two of the three playoff games, Mostert was the lead back in San Francisco. As his agent noted in the tweet in which he shared Mostert’s trade request, Mostert was shockingly efficient on the added volume, and he also produced touchdowns at a ludicrous rate.

It is worth wondering how legitimate Mostert’s sudden career boom has come four seasons into his career, and in a system that produces an efficient running game better than any in the league, save for Baltimore. Mostert’s density and burst fit snugly in the Shanahan system — would they do the same elsewhere?

The same question the Eagles would ask before trading for Mostert, then, is the same question the 49ers asked themselves when he requested his pay bump: if he’s a product of the system, how much is he worth?

The Eagles figure to be careful with their cap space, given their high amounts of spending and uncertain cap future under COVID-19 limited revenue. In the event that they do add Mostert and his modest $3.5M cap hit for 2020, they would, like the Niners, not respond to a demand for a contract increase. So the Eagles would only look into acquiring Mostert in the event that they were certain he would play under his current contract in Philadelphia. That isn’t something Mostert would necessarily accept, as he’s likely to be more productive in San Francisco — where he may be RB1 in a great system — as opposed to Philadelphia — where he won’t be RB1 and doesn’t have a guaranteed system fit.

Can the Eagles use a back of Mostert’s talent and skillset. Definitely. While the Eagles don’t base out of wide zone the way that Shanahan did in San Francisco, they may incorporate more of such concepts into the offense, given the addition of offensive assistant Rich Scangarello to the coaching staff. The Eagles also have a good history of adjusting their running offense to their backs, as indicated by the flashes of great play they’ve gotten from such backs as Corey Clement and Boston Scott in recent years. They get a lot out of rotational guys.

But what would the Eagles be willing to spend to acquire Mostert, who would max out as RB2 on their roster? It’s tough to imagine the Eagles, who will need draft picks to get rookie contracts and keep future cap hits down, spending anything more than a Day 3 draft pick for a rotational back.

On paper, this makes sense, and the Eagles should take the temperature of the water. But without a cheap trade price and assurances that Mostert will be willing to play on his current deal — both of which are fairly large hurdles — it’s tough to imagine anything getting done here.

But that’s okay! LeSean McCoy is still around.


Should the Eagles trade for Raheem Mostert?

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