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Miles Sanders will not be returning to the Eagles [UPDATE]

The running back will be reunited with his old position coach, Duce Staley, down in Carolina.

NFC Championship - San Francisco 49ers v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

[UPDATE]: The terms of the Sanders signing have now been reported, and it’s a four-year deal with Carolina.

Original story below:

Per a report from ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the Carolina Panthers intend to sign Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders for the upcoming season. Terms of the contract are not known yet, but it is definitely always interesting to see what running backs, who some consider not worth paying, get in free agency.

Sanders will be reunited with former position coach, Duce Staley, who will be in his first year as the Carolina assistant head coach/running backs coach.

Sanders, who was selected by the Birds out of Penn State in the second round of the 2019 draft, has played his entire four-year career in Philly. This past season was his most productive in midnight green as he ran for 1,269 yards on 259 carries (4.9 ypc) and found the end zone 11 times. He added 20 receptions for a meager 78 yards, but he was a bit more productive in the passing game earlier in his career.

From our position review series:

REVIEW: Sanders finally proved capable of being an effective and efficient high volume option in 2022. His 279 total regular season touches were well above his previous season average of 194.9. Sanders deserved his first career Pro Bowl honor, running harder than ever. That said, opportunity cost was still something of an issue considering he finished the season ranked 32nd out of 62 backs in yards after contact per attempt (via Pro Football Focus). Sanders’ receiving production also dropped for the third straight year. No back has logged fewer yards per target since 2020, according to ESPN. Sanders ended what was otherwise a strong season on a bad note with seven carries for just 16 yards (2.3 average) and a fumble (almost two with a Chiefs touchdown being overturned on replay) in the Eagles’ Super Bowl loss.

OUTLOOK: If the salary cap didn’t exist, the Eagles probably wouldn’t hesitate to re-sign Sanders. He’s certainly expressed interest in remaining in Philly. But the reality is the Eagles have limited funds to go around and so they need to spend their allocations wisely. If there is a position where it makes sense to be frugal, it’s running back. The Eagles shouldn’t need to spend primary resources at this spot when there’s reason to believe they can get good production out of options in their system. Even if the Eagles don’t have Sanders, they’ll still have 1) one of the NFL’s best run-blocking offensive lines, 2) arguably the NFL’s best run game coordinator in Jeff Stoutland, and 3) one of the league’s best rushing quarterbacks who opens up opportunities for his ball carriers. Sanders cannot be a priority when the Eagles have so many other key free agents to retain. The team should allow him to enter free agency and keep tabs on his market. If another team is going to hand him a huge deal, the Birds should be willing to let him walk and potentially recoup a compensatory pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. If Sanders remains unsigned for some time, there’s a path to him returning to Philly on a more reasonable deal.

The Eagles have already made a move in the running back department, signing Rashaad Penny to a one-year deal earlier this week, so losing Sanders in free agency was pretty much a foregone conclusion. Second-year back Kenneth Gainwell will also be in line for more carries with the Birds this year and New York Giants killer Boston Scott is also back in the fold.

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