Jordan Howard

Should the Bears bring Eagles running back Jordan Howard back to Chicago?

Should the Bears bring Eagles running back Jordan Howard back to Chicago?

Eagles running back Jordan Howard didn't have the contract year he was hoping for after the Bears traded him to Philadelphia for pennies on the dollar last offseason. He ended 2019 with career-lows in carries (119) and yards (525), but did achieve his second-best yards per carry average at 4.4.

Howard was victimized by a midseason shoulder injury that opened the door for Eagles rookie Miles Sanders to take the starting job. Before his injury, Howard was producing much like he did in Chicago where he became the first Bears running back to begin a career with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. Howard scored a touchdown in five of his final seven games last year and averaged 4.1 yards per carry in six of those seven games. He tore up the Bears in Week 9, running for 82 yards and a touchdown in an Eagles' victory.

In 2019, Howard had 123 fewer carries than Bears starter David Montgomery but still managed the same number of rushing touchdowns (6). If Howard had the same workload as Montgomery, he would have ended the year with 992 yards; Montgomery finished with 889.

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The Eagles are not expected to re-sign Howard this offseason and it's unlikely that the market for his services will be high. Considering that the Bears don't have much depth behind Montgomery with only Tarik Cohen as a change-of-pace option off the bench, it's possible that Howard's low-market value combined with Chicago's struggles to bang the ball between the tackles might make for a reunion.

Bears general manager Ryan Pace has added at least one running back in four of five offseasons. He drafted Jeremy Langford in 2015, Howard in 2016, Cohen in 2017 and Montgomery in 2019, and signed Mike Davis as a free agent last offseason. You can bet he'll draft or sign one in 2020 and it makes sense to give Howard, who already knows Matt Nagy's offense, some consideration.

The Bears could offer Howard the same deal they gave Davis last March (two years, $6 million). His history warrants that kind of pay. With Montgomery as the starter, Howard's role can be specifically designed to assist in short-yardage and goal line situations. Montgomery and Howard can even split carries if it gives the offense its most effective rushing attack.

Howard is going to follow the money this offseason. But after a down year at a position that isn't highly valued to begin with, the Bears can swoop in and bring him back at a discount.

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Here's what the Bears ended up with from the Jordan Howard trade

Here's what the Bears ended up with from the Jordan Howard trade

It may have taken a full season, but we finally know the compensation the Chicago Bears will receive from the Philadelphia Eagles for last offseason's trade that sent running back Jordan Howard, the only player to begin his career with back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons with the Bears, to the City of Brotherly Love.

Unfortunately, Howard didn't deliver the way the Eagles probably hoped he would, and as a result, Chicago will receive a sixth-round pick in the 2020 NFL draft.

Had Howard excelled in Doug Pederson's offense, the Bears could've ended up with a fifth-rounder.

Howard appeared in just 10 games for the Eagles and finished the season rushing for 525 yards and six touchdowns. His 4.4 yards per carry was the second-best of his career and he likely would've had the kind of 2019 campaign that flipped the pick into a fifth-round selection had he been healthy for all 16 weeks. Howard missed several weeks with a shoulder injury and ended up losing his starting job to rookie Miles Sanders while he was out.

In Week 9 against the Bears, Howard ran for 82 yards and a touchdown in Philadelphia's 22-14 victory.

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Jordan Howard on revenge game vs. Bears: 'I was definitely amped up'

Jordan Howard on revenge game vs. Bears: 'I was definitely amped up'

PHILADELPHIA — Bears general manager Ryan Pace decided running back Jordan Howard was expendable last offseason. In fact, Howard was so expendable that Pace traded the franchise's record-holder for the most rushing yards by a rookie and the only running back in team history to begin his career with back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons for a conditional sixth-round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles.

And while Howard said after Philadelphia's 22-14 win over the Bears that he doesn't need any validation from his former team, he did admit he was pretty fired up for the game.

"I just did a little more talking than I usually do," Howard said. "There was a little back-and-forth with the guys. Everything else was normal. It was definitely a little strange because I didn't really go against them that much in practice. They never really tackled me."

It showed on Sunday afternoon. Howard finished the game with 19 carries for 82 yards and scored on a 13-yard touchdown run. He was decisive and ran with power. In other words, he ran exactly the way he did for three seasons with the Bears.

And while it's natural for an athlete to enjoy a win over his former team a little bit more than normal, Howard said his biggest concern was maintaining the momentum the Eagles are building in this mini-winning streak.

"I don't worry about what they do, because I'm here now," Howard said of the Bears. "I wanted to get this win because it was just the next game. I was definitely amped up for this one a little more."

Howard's replacement in Chicago, rookie David Montgomery, had some nice moments on Sunday and finished the game with 40 yards and two scores. His 2.9 yards per carry was more indicative of the offensive line's struggles, but there's no avoiding his crucial drop in the fourth quarter that, had he secured the catch, may have gone for a touchdown. And it may have changed the outcome of the game, too.

Ironically, Howard's weakness as a receiver is one of the main reasons he was shipped out of town. 

Howard's first season with the Eagles is going about as well as he could've hoped, especially with unrestricted free agency on the horizon. He has 525 yards and six touchdowns on 119 carries (4.4 yards per carry) through nine games. He's on pace for 933 yards and 11 scores.