Darren Sproles Calling It Quits After Next Season

Plus: Which player do the Eagles need to re-sign in the offseason?

Darren Sproles. (Jeff Fusco)

Darren Sproles. (Jeff Fusco)

As the Eagles prepare to wrap up the 2016 regular season on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys, let’s take a look at some of the best stories from around the web from the past week.

Running back Darren Sproles says 2017 will be his last season in the NFL, but he hopes he can stay in Philadelphia, according to Tim McManus of ESPN.com.

His two daughters are “getting to the age that they want their daddy around more,” Sproles explained, and so he has decided that next season will be his last in the NFL. That was the thought when he inked a one-year extension through 2017 this summer with the Philadelphia Eagles, and it remains the thought as he gets set to complete his 12th season in the league.

“A little bit,” he said, when asked if he is starting to get sentimental now that the end of his career is near, “but I feel like [after 2017] it will be time.”

His hope is to remain in Philadelphia for the swan song — he has grown close to many of his teammates and is fond of the coaching staff — but noted that whether he’s back in an Eagles uniform next season is out of his hands.

“That’s not up to me. That’s up to the people upstairs. I’ve got nothing to do with that,” Sproles said. “But that’s the plan.”

The Eagles are the fourth best team who didn’t make the playoffs this year to make them next year, opines Bill Barnwell of ESPN.com.

4. Philadelphia Eagles

Advanced metrics are impressed by both whom the Eagles have beaten and the way in which they’ve won. Sure, the Eagles beat the Browns and Bears, which isn’t notable. Their other four wins are over the Steelers, Vikings, Falcons and Giants, three of whom are 10-win teams. Those wins have come by an average of 14 points, the most notable a 34-3 romp of Pittsburgh in Week 3. Of those nine losses, eight have come against teams with a winning record, the Bengals being the lone exception.

Overall, Philadelphia has played the second-toughest schedule in football this season, a figure topped only by the Browns, against whom the universe is conspiring. That likely will be easier next year, although the Eagles will join the rest of their division in playing the AFC West (along with the far-friendlier NFC West). They’ll also be better in close games, and rookie quarterback Carson Wentz should improve in his second season. The Eagles have the classic profile of a team likely to improve next season.

Well, not so fast. The Eagles have been very lucky with fumbles, recovering 28 of the 47 loose balls (59.6 percent) to hit the ground in their games this season. They’ve been incredible on special teams, where they lead the league in DVOA after finishing 10th a year ago and leading the league in 2014. Even if their special-teams play is still good next year, it’s unlikely to be the league’s best. The Philadelphia defense and special teams combined to produce five touchdowns this season, while their opposition has only scored one. The Eagles also were relatively healthy, although that idea looks worse if we consider Lane Johnson missed 10 games as a result of his second suspension for PEDs.

Doug Pederson had some bright spots in his first year as the Eagles’ head coach, but The Inquirer’s Jeff McLane says progress is needed in Year 2.

Several members of the Eagles leadership council questioned Pederson during an occasionally contentious meeting the next day. But [Malcolm] Jenkins said that at least there was dialogue, and ultimately, no hard feelings.

“This team could have really flipped and gone the other direction,” Pederson said.

Jenkins didn’t necessarily agree with Pederson’s assessment that his challenge and the subsequent meeting led to the Eagles’ improved performance in the next three games, but he applauded his coach’s openness. [Chip] Kelly, too, had a leadership council, “but we never met,” the safety said.

“It helps you as a coach to get a true pulse of what’s going on in the locker room. . . . [Pederson’s] got to lean on his leaders,” Jenkins said. “If you lose the leaders you lose the locker room. And the way you stay with the leaders is you’ve got to give them that open voice.”

The Eagles have to re-sign cornerback Nolan Carroll in the offseason, pens Cameron DaSilva of FoxSports.com.

Philadelphia Eagles: Nolan Carroll, CB

ESPN.com’s Matthew Berry likes Sproles and Zach Ertz in the final week of the regular season.

Running backs I like in Week 17

Darren Sproles, Eagles: With Ryan Mathews suffering a season-ending injury, you’ll see some Byron Marshall, but ultimately I expect this to be the Darren Sproles show against Dallas, a scenario we’ve seen before. Sproles had 20 touches for 103 total yards against the Cowboys in Week 8, and if you’re looking for a spot-start running back, you could do a lot worse.

Tight ends I like in Week 17

Zach Ertz, Eagles: I know, I know. He was brutal last week. Yet, even with that stinker, he has four more targets than any other tight end since Week 9. Sensing a theme here with Ertz and [Kyle] Rudolph? Yeah, outside of the obvious names, I like the guys who get the ball a lot — it’s not exactly brain surgery. In a game in which I am not convinced that Dallas plays all of its starters the whole time, Ertz should rebound from last week and finish strong against the Cowboys, who are allowing the second-most receptions and eighth-most fantasy points to tight ends.

Wentz’s jersey was the top selling NFL jersey dating back to April’s NFL Draft, according to a Dick’s Sporting Goods Jersey Report.

1. Carson Wentz, Eagles

Well, the Wentz Wagon didn’t keep rolling as long as the Dak Prescott bandwagon, but Philly fans clearly are sold on the No. 2 draft pick, despite the fact his hot start cooled off very fast and he’s struggled down the stretch. Still, he could become the first Eagles QB to start all 16 games since Donovan McNabb, and that guy was pretty popular in the City of Brotherly Love.