This season, the Eagles set a franchise record in rushing yards with 2,715 yards. Yes, the NFL did have one extra game this year, but if you watched the season, it was apparent how dominant the Birds could be rushing the ball.
As we head into what is expected to be a busy and important off-season for the re-tooling Philadelphia Eagles, we look at the running back room and what it could potentially look like next year.
1. Miles Sanders
Miles Sanders had an up and down injury-plagued season. The stat that stands out the most is zero touchdowns. It is crazy to think that Sanders didn’t have a touchdown all season. I do not expect that trend to carry into next year, and I assume we see plenty of Sanders in the endzone.
Sanders is entering the last year of his rookie deal and will have a $1.7 million cap hit next year. Once again, Sanders will be the Eagles starting running back. It will be interesting what the Eagles do with him after next year. I am not opposed to re-signing Sanders, but it has to be the right deal.
2. Boston Scott
Boston Scott had another productive year for the Eagles. Although he is never the offense’s focal point, Scott always manages to get his touches and makes them count. Scott has been an important piece for this running back group the last few seasons. He has stepped up when his number is called, yet doesn’t complain about his role when other backs get more touches. Scott led all Eagles running backs with seven touchdowns.
Scott is a free agent heading into the offseason. This year he was on a one-year, $920,000 contract. I expect the Eagles to re-sign Scott to a similar deal. I, for one, am hoping to see him back in Midnight Green next season.
3. Jordan Howard
Jordan Howard has been on and off the Eagles roster the last few seasons. Howard started the year on the Eagles practice squad but was needed with Sanders injured. Howard filled in admirably this year for the Eagles. He was a big part of the ground game resurgence and added a downhill running presence the other running backs did not possess.
Howard will be a free agent, and the Eagles should let him walk. Although he is a valuable player, the Eagles should be able to find a replacement for Howard on the cheap. It could be a possibility to see Howard in an Eagles jersey next year if they need running back help during the season.
4. Kenneth Gainwell
The last running back of the group is Kenneth Gainwell. Gainwell had an interesting rookie season. He started the year as what seemed to be RB2 behind Sanders. As the Eagles run game developed, Gainwell took a backseat to Scott and Howard. He still added five touchdowns on the season and showed promise in the passing game.
Moving into his second season, we should see an improved Kenneth Gainwell. Gainwell, on the second year of his rookie deal will be a key player in the backfield next season. He will have opportunities to prove himself and if he wants to have a more prominent role, he will have to earn it.
The Eagles will most likely need to add a running back in the off-season. Whether that is through the draft or free agency, we will see. A handful of free-agent running backs could be a potential fit.
Some notable free agents are Melvin Gordon, David Johnson, Leonard Fournette, Philip Lindsay, Cordalle Patterson, Raheem Mostert, Marlon Mack, J.D. McKissic, and Ronald Jones.
I could see multiple of these players fitting on the Eagles roster. However, I suspect the Birds want to bring in a running back on the cheaper side. We all know how the running back position is viewed in the NFL; bringing in a player on a reasonable, one-year deal would be the best option for the Eagles.
If the Eagles do indeed move on from Jordan Howard, they need to add a physical running back to the team. I believe Ronald Jones would be a great fit if they can make the contract work. Although Jones might look for a multi-year deal, an offer of one year for anywhere between 2-3 million could be a deal both parties have interest in. I am hoping for a LeGarrette Blount-type signing and impact for the Eagles.
I could also see Leonard Fournette being a good fit, but I expect him to be off the Eagles radar. Fournette will probably look for a contender and starting role instead of settling for a re-building team to split snaps with Sanders.
Whoever the Eagles decide to sign in Free Agency should anticipate to be part of a dominant running team.
The Eagles head into the 2022 NFL draft with ten total picks. The Eagles will not be using their early picks on a running back, so it would be in the later rounds if they do draft a running back. They own a third, a fourth, three fifth-round picks, and a sixth-round pick.
This draft has talent at the running back position, but I don’t see the Eagles getting any of the top guys. Breece Hall, Kenneth Walker III, Brian Robinson Jr, and Kyren Williams are the four running backs that stick out to me.
Although I don’t 100% see the Eagles drafting a running back, they might get a player like Brian Robinson in the middle of the draft. The Eagles could use their fourth or one of their fifth-round picks to scoop up Robinson if he is still available.
The Eagles head into next season with plenty of question marks. Although their biggest need isn’t at running back, they can still improve the position. Miles Sanders needs to have a bounce back season and show improvement if he wants to stay the featured back for this team. In my opinion, the offensive line has been so dominant that it makes the running back position less valuable. Theoretically, the Eagles could put anyone in the backfield and still be a successful running team.
With the likes of Hurts, Sanders, Scott, and Gainwell the Eagles should have a competitive running group next season. They should add a running back via free agency or the draft, but only time will tell who the Eagles fill their backfield with next season.
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