April 28, 2018
The Philadelphia Eagles announced that they have agreed to terms with running back Darren Sproles. In Week 3 of the 2017 season, Sproles tore his ACL and broke his arm on the same play, ending his season.
Prior to the 2017 season, Sproles, who will turn 35 in June, indicated that 2017 would probably be his last season in the NFL. Apparently not. At the 2018 NFL Owners Meetings, Doug Pederson emphatically stated that he wanted Sproles back on the team.
"We’ve reached out to him during the free agency period, and talked to him," Pederson said in March. "He’s expressed that he wants to be back here. He knows we want him back here. Heck yeah. He’s a big part of our team. (He’s a) punt returner, he’s a tremendous back, third down guy. So we’ll see what falls out.
"He wants to still play, and I want him to play, and I want him to be an Eagle."
After the 2018 NFL Draft came and went without the Eagles adding any running backs, the two sides agreed to a deal.
Sproles will almost certainly be given certain "old guy" privileges, as he has had in the past.
"He’s one of those guys, you’ve seen what he’s done in the last couple of offseasons," Pederson said. "He hasn’t been here. He spends time with his family. He comes in from time to time, and I’m not concerned about Darren Sproles going forward. I just know the way he works, the way he trains, the way he gets himself prepared, if and when he decides to sign and come back, come on. We’re ready for him."
When Sproles went down in 2017, Wendell Smallwood initially filled his role, before giving way to Corey Clement, who became a more than capable replacement. While Sproles would likely not have as big a role in the Eagles' offense as he has in the past, he would, at a minimum, solidify the punt returner spot, where he averaged an impressive 13.2 yards per punt return in his last full season in 2016. By comparison, Kenjon Barner averaged 8.9 yards per return on punts in 2017.
The Eagles don't presently have a reliable punt returner on the roster. Sproles would obviously have to show that he still has juice left in his legs after recovering from an ACL tear, but if so, he would solve one of the team's few remaining needs.
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