During the Eagles’ regular season on the path to the Super Bowl.
Many players on both Offense and Defense put up career numbers in their respective position.

From A.J. Brown surpassing Mike Quick’s 1,409 Receiving Yards with 1,496.

To Brandon Graham and Javon Hargrave, both posting 11 Sacks. Career highs and their first year with double-digit sacks.

Even Miles Sanders was able to play all 17 regular season games. He was putting up an impressive 11 Touchdowns and 1,269 Rushing Yards, surpassing his previous season’s highs of 867 Rushing Yards and 6 Touchdowns.

Unfortunately for Sanders, his Eagles tenure ended with a bad taste. On the very first play of the Super Bowl, Sanders fumbled the ball. Luckily for the Eagles, the ball bounced out of bounds. But 7 Carries for 16 Yards wasn’t impressive to anyone. Let alone this fumble on his one and only target of the day.

If there was hope the Year 5 Running Back would get re-signed in Philadelphia, it was slowly diminishing after an abysmal performance.

Not Paying Running Backs…Pays Off?

Thankfully for the Eagles. Sanders found a contract with the Carolina Panthers, to the tune of a 4-year, $25 Million contract. Adding another starting position to the lengthy Free Agent list the Eagles already had to refill. 

At the start of Free Agency in March, the Eagles addressed their vacant Running Back position by re-signing Boston Scott to a 1-Year, $2 Million contract.

They also added  Rashaad Penny to the room on another cheap, $1.350 Million contract. The former Seahawk battled injuries, never completing a full season, but that didn’t stop Penny from a 749 Yard 2021 season, where he only played in 10 games.

But the Eagles didn’t stop there. During the Draft, with an opportunity to draft Bijan Robinson, the Eagles replenished their Defensive Line. Instead, they waited until day 3 of the Draft when the Eagles traded 2025 5th, a 2023 7th round pick to the Detroit Lions for D’Andre Swift, and 2023 7th in return.

Swift’s numbers in 2022 might seem lackluster, with only 542 Rushing Yards and 5 Touchdowns. But the Lions system saw Jamaal Williams used in the Red Zone. He was finishing the season with a league-leading 17 Rushing Touchdowns.  Where Swift lacked in Rushing, he made up for in Receiving. An additional 389 Receiving Yards and 3 Receiving Touchdowns will make the Eagles’ 3rd RB added in the off-season a useful asset. 

The Eagles managed to stock the shelves with 3 Running Backs on 1-year deals, making a combined cap hit of $4,986,750.

Avoiding The Off-Season

Swiftness came in handy for the Eagles this off-season. Sorting out the Running Back room before the calendar turned to May helped avoid the upcoming chaos. 

Monday was the NFL’s Franchise Tag Deadline. And 3 Running Backs did not agree to long-term contracts before the July 17th deadline.

Of those 3 are Josh Jacobs, Saquon Barkley, and Tony Pollard.

Hard to complain when 2 of the 3 play for division rivals and have plans to potentially sit out Training Camp and maybe Regular Season games.

It’s hard to pay Running Backs in the NFL. Often time it doesn’t work out for the team. Ezekiel Elliott signed a 6-year $90 Million contract in 2019 and was cut this off-season. Todd Gurley was signed to 4-years $57.5 Million in 2018 and was cut in 2020. Committing large contracts to a replaceable position isn’t always in a team’s best favor.

Saquon Barkley has missed over 20 games in his career. With career numbers in a very outlier season for the Giants, it’s even harder to gauge what future success and health could look like for the Year 6 Running Back. Not only concern about overpaying in the position, but the Giants would barely have the cap space to sign Barkley long-term and could come back to prove more costly in the future.

While the Eagles may have only avoided the Running Back debacle for the 2023 season, the 2024 Running Back Free Agent list holds some big and small names that the Eagles could pursue, including Derrick Henry, Austin Ekeler, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Antonio Gibson, and A.J. Dillon. (to name a few, view the full list here)

We’re days out from Eagles Training Camp, where we’ll finally begin to see where recent draft picks and acquisitions line up – and who gets to carry the workload.

Photo: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

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