As Jordan Howard prepares to play his former team, he’d like to make his current situation more permanent.
The soon-to-be 25-year-old has fit in quite well in Philadelphia after the Eagles traded a late-round pick to the Bears to get him in March. On Sunday, the Eagles will host the Bears as Howard enters the second half of his final year under contract.
He’s already seen enough. Howard wants to stay in Philadelphia after this year.
“I would love to be back,” Howard said on Friday. “I’m loving Philly. So I would definitely love to be back. I’m loving my teammates and the city. I would definitely love to be back.”
Through eight games this season, Howard has 100 carries for 443 yards and five touchdowns (he also has one receiving touchdown). While rookie Miles Sanders has made more big-splash plays, Howard has established himself as the workhorse.
And the combo of Howard and Sanders seems to work. They’re complementary players, a sort of thunder-and-lightning combo.
General manager Howie Roseman and the Eagles' front office will have to figure out whether or not it’s worth it to them to re-sign Howard before the end of the season or in the offseason. Remember, it seemed like a big reason they traded for Howard this past offseason is because that was a cheaper option than signing a player on the free agent market.
To give you a sense of what the market might be, this past offseason, Mark Ingram signed a three-year, $15 million contract and Tevin Coleman signed a two-year, $8.5 million deal. When Howard becomes a free agent, he’ll be younger than both of them were during the offseason.
Coming into this season, there were some serious questions about Howard. In his three years in Chicago, while he had been very productive, his production waned. He had fewer yards in each of his successive seasons and his yards-per-carry average dropped each year too. He averaged a career-low 3.7 yards per carry in 2018.
But in eight games with the Eagles, his average is back up to 4.4, which is just above his three-year average in Chicago. And even though he’s on pace for the fewest yards in his career, he’s on pace for his highest touchdown total.
Overall, it’s hard to argue with his production. Since Howard entered the league as a fifth-round pick out of Indiana in 2016, his 3,813 rushing yards are second to just Ezekiel Elliott.
It would make sense if Howard had revenge on his mind this weekend. After all, the Bears dumped him for a pretty low price. But Howard said he knew for about a month before the trade that he was going to be on the move; it wasn’t a surprise.
So Howard doesn’t care about showing the Bears, ranked 26th in rushing offense, what they’re missing.
“No, I don’t need to prove myself to anybody,” Howard said. “I don’t need any validation from anybody. I’m my own worst critic. Anything I do, I’m my toughest critic, so I don’t care what anybody else says.”
Howard is excited about Sunday, but claims it’s not about revenge. He’s just looking forward to catching up with his old teammates.
With half a season left under contract, he’s hoping his current teammates stay that way.
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