The Eagles announced a trade Tuesday evening, acquiring running back Kenjon Barner from the Panthers in exchange for a conditional seventh-round pick in 2015.
Barner, who played for Chip Kelly at Oregon, was a sixth-round pick in 2013. According to Pro Football Focus, he played 25 offensive snaps as a rookie. Barner carried six times for 7 yards and had two catches for 7 yards. He also returned a pair of kicks for 17 yards.
“Kenjon will hopefully bring some depth to both our running back and return positions,” Kelly said in a statement. “He’s obviously a guy I know really well from Oregon, where he had a very productive career. He has a lot of speed, explosiveness and had a knack for making some really big plays. But our plan with him right now is get him in Philadelphia as soon as we can and plug him in at running back and returner and let him compete.”
Barner measured in at 5-9, 196 pounds at the combine in 2013 and ran a 4.52 40. He tested well in a variety of areas:
Barner ranked second all-time at Oregon in rushing yards (3,623) and tied for second with 41 rushing touchdowns. As a senior in 2012, he earned first-team All-America honors by rushing for 1,767 yards (second-most in school history) and 21 touchdowns (tied for most in school history).
So, who is affected by this trade? Let’s start with the running backs. LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles are obviously locks to make the roster. After that, the picture gets cloudy. Chris Polk drew praise from Kelly in the spring, but has been battling a hamstring injury. Kelly made it clear today that it’s tough to evaluate bubble guys when they can’t get on the field.
He included second-year player Matthew Tucker (hamstring) in that group as well. Undrafted free agents Henry Josey and David Fluellen seem like longshots to fill the third and fourth spots.
The Eagles could keep four running backs on the 53-man roster, with two of Barner/Polk/Tucker making the squad.
And then there’s Barner’s ability to return kicks. Josh Huff had been doing that, but he suffered a shoulder injury (AC sprain) vs. New England and said he’s day-to-day. He added that he’s aiming to be back for Week 1, but that’s obviously far from a guarantee.
Getting back to Barner, at the combine in 2013, he called Kelly a genius and told me about his ability to adjust on the fly.
“His ability to adapt to any environment, any situation, I’ve never seen it,” Barner said at the time. “I’ve never been around it. So for him to go to that level, I think he’ll be just fine.”
More to come.