March 02, 2023
The Eagles' backfield is going to look a bit different next season, but it's really a matter of how they go about it.
Miles Sanders and Boston Scott are both slated for free agency, which does open up the opportunity for Kenny Gainwell to take on a bigger role, but Howie Roseman knows the team can't rely on one running back alone.
"You need more than one," the Eagles' general manager said at the NFL Combine earlier this week. "It's hard to roll with just one running back in this league, so I think we're happy with Kenny. Know also that he hasn't hit his ceiling yet. Obviously, he had a good playoff run, but it's a position we're going to continue to add at.
"We don't have a lot of guys under contract right now, so we'll continue to look at players at that position and a lot of positions."
And they'll have their options, obviously in the draft with two first-round picks and six in total to work with, along with whatever may be available through trade and the free-agent market when the new league year begins on March 15.
But with 20 free agents of their own pending and a big payday coming up for quarterback Jalen Hurts, money is going to be a bit tight this offseason, and the Eagles' front office probably won't be compelled to go out and spend on a high-profile back, especially when future production at the position tends to get dicey when a player is finally ready to hit the open market.
That said, we're still a long way from training camp and a little window shopping never hurts, so – in no particular order – here's a look at 10 notable running backs who are expected to be available, keeping in mind the chance that either Scott or Sanders or both could always come back too:
• Raheem Mostert – Miami has two backs of interest provided the Dolphins don't get one or both signed. First up is Mostert, who in his age-30 season had a resurgent year with 1,093 yards from scrimmage and five total touchdowns. He missed Week 18 and Miami's playoff game against Buffalo with a broken thumb, and does have some concerning injury history from his run in San Francisco, but 2022 stood to reason that he can stay healthy and still has a good amount of football left in the tank. Plus, he was also on the Eagles' practice squad as an undrafted free agent at the beginning of his career back in 2015.
• Jeff Wilson Jr. – Also from the Dolphins is Wilson, who ran for 860 yards and five touchdowns this season across 16 games for San Francisco and then Miami (eight each) following a midseason trade. He formed a nice tandem with Mostert on the way to the Dolphins' playoff appearance and near upset of the Bills, but at age 27, greater opportunity may also lie elsewhere.
.@JeffWilsonJr keeps the @MiamiDolphins drive alive on 4th & 8!— NFL (@NFL) January 15, 2023
📺: #MIAvsBUF on CBS
📱: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/zCGXBeNnOK pic.twitter.com/jsJRr3i5Th
• Jerick McKinnon – On to someone the Eagles just saw in the Super Bowl and an all-purpose threat as well. McKinnon, 30, racked up 803 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns (nine receiving) during the regular season, and against the Birds, gained 49 more yards on the biggest stage, including a run and slide at the 1 that helped Kansas City run out the clock. His versatility worked well with Patrick Mahomes and could benefit Jalen Hurts too, albeit maybe at the risk of overlapping with Gainwell. Still, that's assuming the Chiefs don't find a way to keep him.
• Damien Harris – An Alabama product, which the Eagles can never seem to have enough of, the 26-year-old ran for 462 yards and three touchdowns on 106 carries for the Patriots in 2022 but missed several games due to injury. He still isn't too far removed from his career-best season in 2021 though, back when he ran for 929 yards and 15 touchdowns. The other thing to consider, however, is that many New England running backs tend to do well only within New England's offense, then drop off once they leave.
• Tony Pollard – Running for over 1,000 yards for the first time in his career, Pollard started overtaking Ezekiel Elliott as the lead back in Dallas, and at age 25, it stands to reason he still has a good bit of football left ahead of him. Dallas is in a bind, however. The franchise tag is in play here, but depending on cap constraints and demands, they could be forced to move on from one or both of their backs.
When it comes to Dallas free-agent running backs, however, I will say that DeMarco Murray still leaves some uneasiness all these years later.
• David Montgomery – Maybe one of the more underrated running backs in the league, Montgomery's numbers have dipped since his 1,000-yard season in 2020, but 801 yards rushing and a total of 1,117 yards from scrimmage on a bad Bears team still isn't anything to scoff at, plus he's still pretty young at 25. There will likely be more than a few teams with interest here.
• Matt Breida – A depth back, but one the Eagles have seen from within the division and the playoffs this year, and one who has shown capable of pulling off plays for decent chunks of yardage. Breida, 28, had just 54 carries for 220 yards and a touchdown during the regular season and shouldn't be too expensive of an option. The Giants are also tied up right now working on a new contract for quarterback Daniel Jones and have a big decision looming over their top back Saquon Barkley, who can also hit the open market.
• Devin Singletary – Another 25-year-old back, though one in a much better and more dynamic offense, Singletary has had over 1,000 yards from scrimmage in each of the past two seasons and has never had less than 950 throughout his four-year career so far. A jump from the Bills to the Eagles, in theory, would be a pretty seamless transition given the strength of each teams' o-line, quarterback, and pass-catching threats. But term and salary would probably be a much different story.
Devin Singletary is IN!— NFL (@NFL) November 20, 2022
📺: #CLEvsBUF on CBS
📱: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/wfFGSYn0ai pic.twitter.com/FCykFKUCU6
• D'Onta Foreman – After Matt Rhule's firing and Christian McCaffrey's trade to the Niners, the Panthers managed to turn in a pretty respectable finish, and Foreman, 26, was a big part of that. He was handed the ball 203 times and took it for 914 yards and five touchdowns while averaging 4.5 yards per carry. More of a north-south runner at 6-foot-1 and 236 pounds, he would offer a power-running presence the Eagles haven't had in a long time, but again, that would all depend on the value he commands and what the Panthers want to do now that Frank Reich is at the helm.
3️⃣ for 3️⃣3️⃣ pic.twitter.com/8lz2Iecepe— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) October 30, 2022
• Rashaad Penny – Coming off a season-ending broken fibula suffered in Week 5, Penny, 27, would be a gamble, but possibly a low-cost one because of that. He still ran for 346 yards on an average of 6.1 per carry before the injury, but Kenneth Walker III is the top back in Seattle now after reaching 1,050 yards rushing in his rookie season.
Penny, who would be entering his sixth, has also struggled to stay healthy prior to 2022 but has also shown flashes of great athleticism when he is available to play.
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