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January 17, 2019

Eagles stay or go: Running back

Eagles NFL

The Philadelphia Eagles' 2018 season over, and there will be a lot of interesting decisions made on the players currently on the roster, perhaps more so than in most years. Let's take a position-by-position look at who will likely be back with the team in 2019, and who won't. On Wednesday, we started with the quarterbacks. Today we'll continue on with the running backs.

Jay Ajayi

Ajayi is a free agent this offseason, but he is likely to find a soft market, as he already has well-publicized, chronic knee issues, and now an ACL tear on top of it. In his 11 regular season games and four playoff games (almost the equivalent of a full regular season) with the Birds, Ajayi was a nice contributor, totaling 157 carries for 776 yards (4.9 YPC) and four TDs.

If indeed a market does not develop for Ajayi, I can see the Eagles having interest in bringing him back on a modest one-year, non-guaranteed deal, but certainly, he would have to prove that his ACL surgery isn't the straw that broke the camel's back. 

#JimmyVerdict: I'll go out on a limb a bit here, and predict that Ajayi re-signs with the team, but with no guarantees of making the roster.

Your verdict:

Corey Clement

After a very promising rookie season as an undrafted free agent, Clement had something of a disappointing follow-up season, as he dealt with a quad injury (and maybe more).

With a full offseason to heal, Clement is, in my view, the only lock to be back with the team in 2019, as he is a well-rounded back with rushing, receiving, and pass protection ability.

#JimmyVerdict: Stay

Your verdict: 

Darren Sproles

Last offseason, the Eagles signed Sproles to a modest contract at the conclusion of the 2018 NFL Draft, after they hadn't selected a running back. If Sproles even wants to play anymore, I believe the Eagles will take a similar tact with him this offseason, though with nine picks instead of five a year ago, I believe the running back position will be addressed in the 2019 NFL Draft, weakening the chances for a Sproles return.

Doug Pederson loves Sproles, who will be 36 in June, but Howie Roseman gave a somewhat tepid response to a question in regard to a Sproles return in 2019.

"Everyone knows how we feel about Darren Sproles, again as a person and a player," Roseman said. "There are not many guys who have walked through this building who have higher character, better leadership ability, and have the chance to go to the Hall of Fame. So I think that everyone just needs time to get away and you kind of reconvene those conversations at the appropriate time, and that’s what we’ll do."

That's certainly not, "We want him back."

#JimmyVerdict: Go

Your verdict: 

Wendell Smallwood

Smallwood just seems to survive, and at times this season he was the lead back. Obviously, the running back position needs a significant upgrade this offseason, but I think Smallwood has proven that he at least belongs in the league.

#JimmyVerdict: He'll be back in camp again, but he'll still have to make the roster.

Your verdict: 

Josh Adams

Adams does some things well, I suppose. When he gets some space, he can gobble up yards quickly even if it doesn’t look like he’s moving very fast. However, he also has serious deficiencies. He doesn’t give you anything as a receiver, he isn’t good in pass protection, and he was absolutely dreadful as a short yardage back, despite having the big body that he has. In seven carries on 3rd or 4th down and 1 or 2, Adams had -8 yards, and no first downs. Bleh. 

#JimmyVerdict: He'll need a great camp, or the lack of adequate competition, to make the team in 2019. Maybe both.

Your verdict: 

Boston Scott

The Eagles signed Scott late in the season, and he ended it being the team's kick returner down the stretch, though there was little to get excited about there. 

#JimmyVerdictHe'll have a chance to show what he can do in camp.

Your verdict: 

#JimmyVerdict Stay or Go Results

Green = Stay

Red = Go

Orange = Will be back in camp in 2019, but a roster spot is not guaranteed

(Note: Some mobile versions will not display colors.)

 QBCarson Wentz Nick Foles Nate Sudfeld 
 RB Jay AjayiCorey Clement Darren Sproles 
 RB (cont.)Wendell Smallwood Josh Adams Boston Scott 
 Head coach   
 Offensive coordinator   
 Defensive coordinator   

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