Ranging from Darren Sproles’ role to Nick Foles’ future, here are three Eagles numbers that matter.
4.3 – The number of rushing attempts per game Sproles has averaged in the past three seasons. Back in March, we took an All-22 look at what Sproles brings to the table. The conclusion was that he would have a far greater impact as a receiver than as a ball-carrier.
But Chip Kelly seems to have an issue with that assertion. Last week, a reporter started off a question to Kelly by pointing out that the team essentially was bringing on four new receivers (Jeremy Maclin, Jordan Matthews, Josh Huff and Sproles) from a year ago. The head coach interrupted.
“Sproles is not a receiver,” he said.
A receiving option then?
“All of our running backs are all receiving options,” Kelly said. “I just clarified that. Everyone thinks Darren Sproles is a receiver. He’s a running back and a really, really talented running back.”
Sproles will turn 31 in June and averaged 4.2 yards per carry last season, the second-worst mark of his career. But during the two OTAs that were open to the media, he took almost all the reps with the second team at running back. He’s yet to take reps as a slot receiver (from what we’ve seen).
With the Bryce Brown trade, the question of what the Eagles’ plan will be should LeSean McCoy go down needs an answer this summer. Given his frame and age, Sproles doesn’t seem like a viable option to carry the load; he’s never had more than 93 carries in a season. Chris Polk’s shoulder injury caused him to go undrafted, and he’s had a total of 11 carries in two seasons.
Maybe an unknown like Matthew Tucker, Henry Josey or David Fluellen will emerge this summer. Maybe the Eagles will add another running back in the coming months. But one way or another, they need to find an insurance plan for McCoy.
One more note: Last year, backup Eagles running backs averaged 5.4 carries per game. Expect the bulk of those touches to go to Sproles. But don’t expect McCoy’s workload to be lightened much.
11.95 – The number (in millions) of McCoy’s cap hit in 2015, according to OverTheCap.com.
Given that he saw the Eagles unexpectedly release DeSean Jackson this offseason, McCoy was asked if he’s thought about the team doing the same to him after 2014.
“Not really. I know it’s a business,” McCoy said. “I feel like if I do my job as far as being a productive player and just being positive, just being everything that I am, I’m not nervous at all. That’s something that we’ll work on when that time comes. As long as I’m productive, stay healthy and doing the right things, I should be fine. I think in this offense I’m the best fit around the league and anywhere, so just gotta have that type of confidence. I feel like I’ve been good to this team, and the team, they’ve been good to me. I’ve got a deal done going into my fourth year, which they didn’t have to do that. So it’s all a business, and I think they’ll take care of it when that time comes.”
Chase Stuart of Football Perspective took a look at some numbers and concluded that running backs tend to peak at age 26 and then steadily decline. McCoy turns 26 in July.
The guess here is that he’s not going anywhere. Kelly still employs a spread-to-run offense. That means he’s likely to be willing to invest significant resources in the primary ball-carrier and the offensive line. McCoy is durable, productive, explosive and versatile. In other words, he has everything that Kelly is looking for.
If the Eagles had a backup running back with high upside and a lower price tag, maybe this would be more of a relevant discussion. But for now, I don’t think McCoy has anything to worry about.
Update: Good point here from friend of the blog Sam Lynch.
@SheilKapadia One thing on McCoy: look at how his salary/cap dips in 16-17. Designed to be renegotiated but not cut.
— Sam Lynch (@shlynch) June 6, 2014
13.073 – The amount (in millions) of real guaranteed money for Colin Kaepernick. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk did an excellent job of breaking down all the details. Here’s the important part:
For 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and part of 2018, the base salaries are guaranteed only for injury. On April 1 of each year, the guarantees convert from injury only to fully guaranteed. That gives the 49ers the ability to decide, in any given year, to move on from Kaepernick. And with the deadline for the conversion of the guarantee coming on April 1, the 49ers can squat on his rights until several weeks after the start of free agency, making it harder for him to get paid elsewhere.
Kaepernick’s camp spread numbers like $126 million and $61 million guaranteed, but the reality is this is actually a team-friendly deal. The 49ers are essentially paying year-by-year and have the ability to cut Kaepernick whenever they want after 2014.
T-Mac did a good job this morning of breaking down how the deal might affect Nick Foles.
From my perspective, it’s tough to predict with any confidence what the Eagles’ plan of action will be next offseason when Foles is eligible for an extension. On one hand, we know Kelly values accuracy, decision-making and toughness – all qualities Foles exhibited in 2013. And as we saw with the Kaepernick deal, there are creative ways to structure contracts that make the player happy while still providing outs for the team.
However, we don’t have a complete picture about Kelly’s philosophy in terms of team-building. Having a cheap quarterback (often on a rookie contract) is a huge advantage because it allows teams to invest resources elsewhere. Having an expensive quarterback who eats up cap space can cripple a team’s ability to add talent in other areas. It’s possible Kelly really likes Foles, but believes he can find someone else to be productive at a reduced price. It’s also possible he doesn’t want to take that risk.
For now, we get to sit back and see what Foles has planned for an encore. But next offseason is going to tell us a lot about the long-term vision of Kelly and this franchise.