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April 28, 2020

The top free agent running backs still available for the Eagles

Eagles NFL
Carlos-Hyde_042820_usat Jay Biggerstaff/USA TODAY Sports

The Eagles are reportedly interested in free agent running back Carlos Hyde.

There are a lot of reasons why the Eagles need to (and in all likelihood will) add a running back to their roster before the start of the season — quite possibly before they even hit the practice field.

For one, they still only have five rostered RB heading into training camp — two of whom were signed this past weekend as undrafted rookies (Michael Warren and Adrian Killins). Toss in a third running back, undrafted Elijah Holyfield, and there are only two running backs on the Eagles who have had NFL experience.

Miles Sanders and Boston Scott are both shifty and quick backs — the kind who are threats to make big plays and who can do damage through the run and the pass. But the team is lacking proven tailbacks who can run downfield between the tackles and get the tough yardage.

The team has a history of such backs, ranging from Jordan Howard to Jay Ajayi to LeGarrette Blount in recent memory. When the team had Brian Westbrook (5-foot-10, 200 pounds) it also had Correll Buckhalter (6-foot, 225 pounds). 

With Howie Roseman and the rest of his front office opting not to add a running back via the draft, the Eagles certainly are in need of free agent help. Last summer, the team entered camp with seven running backs. 

Right now, there are actually quite a few veteran backs available in free agency. And having passed Monday's 4 p.m. deadline, the team can now sign anyone they want without having to worry about it effecting their future compensation picks. 

Here's an overview of who is left, and who would be the best fit as the Eagles look to add running back help:

THE BIG NAMES

Devonta Freeman, Lamar Miller, Carlos Hyde

It doesn't really sound, based simply on how the Eagles behave at this point in free agency, that they would open the bank for any of these three backs. They are clearly the top three on the market, but there are some strikes against each. Freeman is a smaller speedy back who isn't necessarily the perfect counterpunch for Sanders. Miller and Hyde, both in their late 20s, will surely be looking to cash in on one last sizable contract before they find themselves in their 30s and unemployable. 

Of the trio, Hyde is the best fit as he is the exact right size (6-foot, 230 pounds) and has the right style of running for the Eagles. He also is coming off of a 1,000-yard season. 

THE GRIZZLED VETS

Frank Gore, Bilal Powell, Marshawn Lynch

Based on body type and body of work alone, these three would be good fits with the Eagles — but it seems counterintuitive for them to reach this far into older players as they look to avoid injury and get older.

Of the three, Powell is the youngest (31), but at 5-foot-10, 204 pounds he isn't the bruising short-yardage type the Eagles are needing.


MORE: Eagles 2020 draft grade roundup


FAMILIAR FACES

Corey Clement, LeSean McCoy, Wendell Smallwood, Kenjon Barner

If we wanted to place a bet on one of these clusters of running backs, we'd probably push our chips in on the former Eagles. For one, there will almost assuredly be a shorter and potentially drastically different offseason as the world continues to fight COVID-19. In that kind of instance, having a player with knowledge of the scheme and gameplan, as well as familiarity with current Eagles players and coaching staff is definitely a plus.

Clement is just 25 and has fought several injuries over his last few seasons since being one of the Eagles Super Bowl heroes. He could be easy to persuade to return. McCoy, who is 32, has already expressed his interest in returning. Smallwood is certainly the kind of big back they are needing in Philly. Barner is a Chip Kelly player and of the smaller, shiftier mold. 

OTHER OPTIONS

Isiah Crowell, Robert Turbin, Jarvorius Allen, Spencer Ware, CJ Prosise

The five players we are including in this last group are all built to be the "thunder" to Sanders' "lightning." Crowell, as our Jimmy Kempski briefly touched on, would be a very good fit for the Eagles' scheme and is also the one with the most experience. None of these other guys have much by way of an extensive NFL body of work to boast about, which means they'd likely be cheap and willing to try and get one last chance at success with prove-it deals.

Allen is 6-foot-1 and showed success in stints as a Raven while Ware, when healthy, was a spark for the Chiefs (he had 921 yards three years ago but hasn't done much since). Prosise is a do-it-all kind of back that never got much of a chance to shine for Pete Carroll in Seattle, while Turbin scored seven touchdowns on just 47 carries in 2016 for the Colts.

Running backs are a buyers market right now — so the Eagles will make sure they get the kind of team-friendly deal they want to get the most value out of whichever back or backs they add to the fold this spring.


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