In the past few hours we’ve seen Mark Ingram and Tevin Coleman — two of the top running backs on the free agency market — agree to very reasonable contracts.
The Eagles didn’t end up with either.
This is slightly puzzling.
Because, as the roster stands now, the Eagles’ most glaring need is clearly at running back. They are set to return Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood and Josh Adams. Either Ingram or Coleman would have immediately given the Eagles’ offense a huge boost — and it’s not like these guys broke the bank.
Ingram’s three-year contract with the Ravens is reportedly worth $15 million.
Coleman’s two-year contract with the 49ers is reportedly worth $10 million.
So the Eagles couldn’t match or beat an annual average salary of $5 million for a player who could transform their offense and give them a more legitimate threat at their greatest position of need? It doesn’t make sense.
The Eagles are in win-now mode. They have one more year with Carson Wentz on his rookie contract. They just re-signed their 37-year-old left tackle. And they will have over $25 million in cap space allocated to the receiver position now that Nelson Agholor’s salary is guaranteed.
If getting a top running back on the market would complete the offense, you gotta do it, don’t you? I'm not even a proponent of spending big on running backs, but these contracts are reasonable.
Maybe I’m being too reactionary. The Eagles are still months away from training camp and, technically, free agency is just a couple hours old. If anyone deserves the benefit of the doubt, it’s Howie Roseman. But this free agent running back class is drying up quickly.
Outside of the draft, there are still some good remaining options:
In free agency: T.J. Yeldon, Spencer Ware, Jay Ajayi
All three of these players make sense for various reasons. Yeldon is still just 25 and has ability as a runner and receiver. Ware is still just 27 and has played in Andy Reid’s offense and was with Doug Pederson there in 2015. And Ajayi is coming off an ACL tear, but maybe he could stay on some sort of prove-it deal.
Through a trade: Jordan Howard, Duke Johnson
If the Eagles trade for a running back, they would avoid hurting the compensatory pick formula. Howard isn’t a good receiving threat but has been a Pro Bowler and Eagles head personnel chief Joe Douglas was with the Bears when they drafted him. And Johnson could be a trade target from Cleveland, where he has been buried on the depth chart. He’s more of a receiving threat. If you could combine the skills of these two players, you would have an excellent feature back.
No matter what happens, the Eagles need to improve at the running back position. They would be doing themselves a great disservice if they go into a season with what they have right now. My guess is they get one of those guys listed above and still draft one in April.
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