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February 18, 2023

Eagles stay or go: Running back

What should the Eagles do with their four current running backs?

Now that the Philadelphia Eagles' 2022 season is over (a little later than usual), we'll be taking a position-by-position look at which players will likely be back with the team in 2023, and which ones likely won't. Today we'll look at the running backs.

Regarding the polls below, they are your votes on what you think the Eagles should do, not necessarily what you think they will do. Please think of them more as approval polls for each player.

Previous stay or go articles: Quarterback

Miles Sanders

Sanders had a very good season in the stat sheet and was named to the Pro Bowl after rushing 259 times for 1,269 yards (4.9 YPC) and 11 TDs, finishing fifth in the NFL in rushing yards. For the first time since 2019, Sanders played in every game, and his 259 carries beat his previous season average of 160 by 99 carries. 

However, he has remained a flawed player in many ways. 

  1. As a receiver, Sanders had just 20 receptions for 78 yards (3.9 YPR), and 0 TDs. He was pretty much just an early-down back.
  2. He didn't fumble at all during the first 13 games of the season, but he lost fumbles in consecutive weeks against the Bears and Cowboys. He also fumbled twice in the Super Bowl and was fortunate that the one of them — which resulted in a Chiefs defensive touchdown — was overturned on review.
  3. There were times this season when Sanders did a good job of running hard and at least getting the yards that were blocked up for him, but there were other times he reverted back to old habits of leaving meat on the bone.

Sanders will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and his market should be interesting to watch. If another team makes him a good offer, the Eagles should be wary of overpaying for a player whose skill set really shouldn't be that hard to replace behind an elite run-blocking offensive line.

With a stacked group of free agent running backs all competing for lucrative contracts this offseason, there's a decent chance that Sanders finds a soft market and is left to sign a one-year prove-it deal, whether that's in Philadelphia or elsewhere.

#JimmyVerdict: If the Eagles had more cap space to play with this offseason, they might splurge a tiny bit to bring Sanders back, but they may feel like they can get similar production from a cheaper player. Go.

Eagles stay or go: Miles Sanders

Kenny Gainwell

On the season, Gainwell rushed 53 times for 240 yards (4.5 YPC) and 4 TDs, while also chipping in 23 receptions for 169 yards as the Eagles' passing down back. Gainwell struggled to adjust to the NFL at times over his first 1.5 or so years in the league, but the Eagles continued to play him in his third-down role anyway, and their bet on him eventually paid off, as Gainwell finished the season strongly.

He played more snaps than Sanders both in the NFC Championship Game against the 49ers and against the Chiefs in the Super Bowl. Against the Giants in the divisional round, he had 12 carries for 112 yards and a TD, plus a catch for nine yards on only 16 snaps.

#JimmyVerdict: Gainwell will be back as the passing down back, at a minimum, with a chance to expand his role, especially if Sanders moves on. Stay.

Eagles stay or go: Kenny Gainwell

Boston Scott

Scott has now been with the Eagles since 2018, often filling in for an injured Sanders, usually against the Giants. In 2022, he carried 54 times for 217 yards (4.0 YPC) and 3 TDs, and didn't do much as a receiver (five catches for 15 yards).

#JimmyVerdict: The Eagles chose not to tender Scott as a restricted free agent a year ago, but he wound up coming back on a cheap deal. They can probably get Scott to come back at the veteran minimum to torment the Giants for a couple games in 2023. Stay.

Eagles stay or go: Boston Scott

Trey Sermon

The Eagles claimed Sermon after the 49ers waived him at final cutdowns. We published a breakdown of Sermon's game soon after he joined the team. During that exercise, we concluded that while Sermon has good size at 6'0, 215, his game more closely mirrors Sanders', than, say, Jordan Howard's. The Eagles are going to have to work with Sermon on being the type of north-south runner that the Niners wanted him to be. To be determined if the Eagles will have more patience developing him than the Niners did.

With the Eagles in 2022, Sermon only appeared in two games, carrying twice for 19 yards. 

#JimmyVerdict: Sermon will be on his the third year of his rookie contract in 2023, and is cheap enough to be back in camp this summer.

Eagles stay or go: Trey Sermon

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