Eagles Offseason Outlook: Running Back
Throughout the next two weeks, we’ll take a position-by-position look at where the Eagles stand going into the offseason. We have covered the quarterbacks and wide receivers so far. Now it’s onto the running backs.
STATE OF THE ROSTER
With this group, the offseason focus is on LeSean McCoy’s contract. The 26-year-old tailback carries a cap hit of $11.95M in 2015, according to Over The Cap. Only Adrian Peterson has a higher number among running backs.
The Eagles will have to decide what to do with McCoy: have him play 2015 on his current deal, ask him to restructure his contract or part ways with him. I think the third option is ridiculous, but more on that in the next section.
Playing behind a banged-up offensive line for much of the season, McCoy totaled 1,319 yards on 312 attempts (4.2 YPC). Although he didn’t appear to be as elusive as he’s been in the past, those are OK numbers, given the circumstances.
Darren Sproles carried 57 times for 329 yards (5.8 YPC) and also had 40 catches for 387 yards. He and Mark Sanchez could never get on the same page. In the final four games, Sproles totaled just 108 combined rushing/receiving yards. He was a weapon on special teams throughout and is under contract for two more seasons. Sproles turns 32 in June.
Chris Polk finished with 172 yards on 46 carries. He got in the end zone four times and was a contributor on special teams. He’s been effective when healthy and is a restricted free agent, meaning the Eagles can match any offers that Polk receives.
The Eagles also have Kenjon Barner and Matthew Tucker on the 90-man roster.
WHAT I THINK WILL HAPPEN
I don’t think McCoy is going anywhere. He’s still a productive player, and the Eagles do not have a suitable replacement for him on the team right now. The run game is the foundation of the offense, and getting rid of the best ball-carrier makes no sense.
The best veterans on your roster are going to take up the most cap space. That’s just how it works. But it’s worth noting that McCoy’s cap hit drops to a more manageable $8.85M in 2016 and $7.85M in 2017.
The Eagles can cut ties with several different veterans or restructure contracts if they need to create cap space. With McCoy, they certainly can discuss a restructure that works for both sides. But I just don’t see any reason to consider cutting ties with him.
I do think there’s a good chance the Eagles draft a running back in the first three or four rounds. This class is considered loaded at that position, and it wouldn’t be a bad time to select a player who can complement McCoy right away and potentially replace him down the road.
THE FREE AGENT LIST
Here are the top-15 free-agent options, per Rotoworld:
1. DeMarco Murray
2. C.J. Spiller
3. Ryan Mathews
4. Mark Ingram
5. Justin Forsett
6. Frank Gore
7. Shane Vereen
8. Stevan Ridley
9. Roy Helu
10. Ahmad Bradshaw
11. Darren McFadden
12. Knowshon Moreno
13. Ray Rice
14. Ben Tate
15. Antone Smith
The most intriguing name on this list, as it pertains to the Eagles, is Spiller. The Eagles reportedly looked into trading for Spiller last offseason before they eventually acquired Sproles.
Given that they landed Sproles, the guess here is that they are unlikely to be players for Spiller or any of the free agents on this list. But it’s at least worth noting that they thought highly of Spiller’s skill set at one point.