What the Eagles Should Do With Every Player on the Team, Vol. 2: Running back
Here we’ll continue our series of what I would do with every player on the team this offseason if I were Howie Roseman, this time looking at running backs.
Sanders has only hit double-digit carries in half the games he’s played this year, and he’s just too talented for that. This was largely due to Nick Sirianni’s poor game plans towards the start of the season, which he certainly learned of over the course of the season, so I expect him to be more regularly involved in attack next year. Next season is crucial for Sanders as he enters the final year of his rookie contract and most would agree he has yet to get a massive contract extension. Although he is by far the most talented runner on the roster, he has been less effective as a catcher every year in the league and often seems to leave meat on the bone on his runs (it’s a touchdown if he actually follows Jason Kelce). Sanders will have to put it all together next year if he wants a big Eagles payday.
What I would do : I wouldn’t extend it now, but I wouldn’t trade it either. Running backs don’t usually have really competitive free agent markets, so I’m comfortable letting him prove himself this year and talking to him in 2023 if he does.
Howard spent the first half of the season on the Eagles practice squad, then was called up after Sanders lost through injury. Thereafter, the Eagles went 6-1 in seven games. Howard touched the ball at least ten times, and for good reason. He’s a tough runner between tackles who leaves no yard on the table, and his efficiency has been crucial during Sanders’ injury absence. He offers very little in the passing game, but in the committee where the Eagles ran for much of the season, they didn’t need to play him in the passing game. Still, while Howard has certainly helped the Eagles this season, he is replaceable and unlikely to be a long-term play. He may be back, but shouldn’t be any kind of priority.
What I would do : If it’s June and I haven’t signed or drafted a return of power, and Howard is still sitting there, then of course I’ll bring him back for another one-year contract. I would be more inclined, however, to sign a younger power runner on Day 3 of the draft to play a similar role, while possibly providing more explosiveness and receiving chops.
Scott is a fun player who runs with more power than his 5’6 frame suggests and who, strangely, always seems to save his best performances for the Giants, scoring at least one touchdown in all six games of his career against them. . Scott is a nice guy and useful depth, but like Howard I think they should start prioritizing the young players they have in that position, like the two guys coming in.
What I would do : I really like Boston Scott, and he’s delivered a few clutch plays for the Eagles in his three years here. Still, with their current depth as a running back, he, like Howard, is low on the priority scale for me. Scott is a restricted free agent, but I probably wouldn’t even suggest it.
Gainwell looks like an absolute steal in the 5th round of the draft this year, joining Tony Pollard and Antonio Gibson as newly selected running backs from the University of Memphis who have proven to be later-round gems (all in the NFC East, oddly enough). While his playing time was sporadic, Gainwell was very effective as a wide receiver (by far the best receiver on the team) and was smart as a runner for a rookie. gainwell in fact had more receiving yards than Jalen Reagor this year (if you include the playoff game)and should absolutely play an important role in this team in the future.
What I would do : Gainwell is already a good player and very cheap for another three years. No hassle – keep it.
Huntley has only played one game this season – the essentially meaningless Week 18 game against the Cowboys. However, he showed during this match that he was probably the best kick returner on the team, landing a few good ones that night. Huntley certainly has some speed, and with the Eagles unable to find an effective returner in recent years, he’s definitely worth keeping for now.
What I would do : Huntley is signed until 2023, and given he’s young, fast, cheap and can return kicks, he’s worth keeping at least during training camp and pre-season. . If the Eagles don’t invest in the running back this offseason, he could be a candidate for the team as a reserve rusher and kick returner.
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