Jay Ajayi

Howie Roseman says there's plenty of time for Eagles to add a RB

Howie Roseman says there's plenty of time for Eagles to add a RB

PHOENIX — Howie Roseman’s attitude toward the running back position mirrored the shady patch of grass from which he spoke on Monday afternoon at the NFL’s annual meetings. 

The sun was scorching, but it was cool under the shade of a big ol’ tree in the lawn of the luxurious Arizona Biltmore. Similarly, heat from Eagles fans has risen about the lack of moves at the running back position. But Roseman is staying cool about that too. 

Roseman’s message was pretty simple: Relax. 

“The three running backs who played in the Super Bowl were guys we acquired after the 2017 draft,” he said. “The talent acquisition period continues to go; we want to have the best possible team. We’re going to look into everything, that’s our job. And at the same time, we’ve got to grow and develop our players.”

The Eagles have a need at running back and it would have made sense for them to make a play for one of the running backs in the free agent market, but they haven’t gotten any yet. Mark Ingram signed a three-year, $15 million deal and Tevin Coleman’s deal with the 49ers is two years for $8 million. Both of those backs signed relatively reasonable contracts and it was somewhat curious the Eagles weren’t more involved. 

But Roseman said the Eagles have simply stayed true to their internal philosophy. They wanted to first shore up the offensive and defensive lines and then get weapons for Carson Wentz. That includes all the skill position players. And other parts of the offseason were unforeseen; like how they were able to re-sign some of their own free agents, including Ronald Darby. 

So if running back got pushed to the back-burner, so be it. 

We’re pretty set in how we believe we should build this team and we’re going to be committed to that until something shows us that there’s a different way.

For now, the Eagles’ running back group includes Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood, Josh Adams and Boston Scott. Some decent pieces for a rotation, but clearly missing a top guy. 

Jay Ajayi is still a free agent, but is coming off a torn ACL. Still, it’s possible he could return on a one-year deal if the price is right. But if that’s the case, it might behoove the Eagles to draft one in conjunction. The Eagles have kept those lines of communication open. 

Roseman praised the guys who are still on the roster and it didn’t seem like lip service. He likes them, but that also doesn’t mean he’s prepared to go into a season with the group he has. The Eagles’ de facto GM was quick to point out there’s a long way to go before the season. 

Roseman was asked if he doesn’t add a running back in the next month, if he’d feel obligated to use a high draft pick on a running back in late April. It doesn’t seem like he’s going to let a need force their hand. 

I just go back to our history over the last couple of years. We’ve been fortunate to win a lot of games with the running backs we have on the roster. And to have opportunities also to acquire backs, not just before the draft but after the draft process.

The Eagles haven’t used a first- or second-round pick on a running back in 10 years. The last time they did, they used a second-round pick on LeSean McCoy back in 2009. They haven’t drafted a running back in the first round since Keith Byars in 1986. 

This draft class offers one possibility in the first round at No. 25 in Alabama’s Josh Jacobs, but there are plenty of options in the second round, starting with Penn State’s Miles Sanders and Iowa State’s David Montgomery. With picks 53 and 57 in the second round, this could finally be the year the Eagles buck that trend. 

Or maybe they won’t. Either way, Roseman was quick to point out there’s still time to figure out what might be the last big piece to their offensive puzzle. 

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Who's still left? Updating statuses for all Eagles' free agents

Who's still left? Updating statuses for all Eagles' free agents

The craziness of free agency has finally died down, so it’s time to take a breath and take stock of the Eagles’ free agents. 

So far, several Birds from the 2018 team have re-signed, others have signed elsewhere and plenty are still on the open market. 

Here’s a complete look: 

Brought back 

Brandon Graham: Graham never made it to free agency, signing a three-year, $40 million deal before the new league year. Just the first two years of the contract are guaranteed, but it was still a nice payday for the 30-year-old defensive end. 

Ronald Darby: He’s still rehabbing from a torn ACL, but Darby is back for the 2019 season to join a crowded cornerback room. His deal is reportedly worth $8.5 million. There’s some question as to whether or not he’ll be ready for the opener. 

Paul Worrilow: Worrilow didn’t make it to free agency either. The veteran linebacker was re-signed back in January. He tore his ACL early in OTAs, so he’s far along and could factor into the linebacker rotation. 

Nate Sudfeld: The Eagles slapped a second-round tender on the restricted free agent. It all but guarantees he’ll be back for 2019 at a salary just north of $3 million.  

Rick Lovato: The long snapper signed a one-year deal. He was an exclusive rights free agent. 

Jake Elliott: Ditto. Elliott signed a one-year deal too. 

Signed elsewhere 

Golden Tate: Tate talked a lot about wanting to win, but then cashed out with a four-year, $37.5 million deal to join the directionless Giants. He spent just half a season with the Birds, but will now see them twice per season for the next several years. 

Jordan Hicks: The Eagles would have welcomed Hicks back, but not with the deal he got. Hicks signed a four-year, $34 million contract to join the Arizona Cardinals. It includes $20 million guaranteed for the former third-round pick. 

Jordan Matthews: Matthews’ second stint as an Eagle came to a close when he agreed to a one-year deal with the 49ers. The Eagles brought back Nelson Agholor for $9.4 million and he will be their slot receiver. 

Nick Foles: The inevitable happened and Foles is no longer an Eagle. He got a huge four-year, $88 million contract with over $50 million guaranteed with the Jaguars. At least he left the NFC.  

Still available 

Jay Ajayi: He’s recovering from an ACL tear and had knee issues before the injury, but Ajayi might be a cheap option for 2019. We’ll see where he ends up, but the Eagles will at least know how his recovery is going.  

Haloti Ngata: The 35-year-old played better down the stretch, but he wasn’t worth the $3 million the Eagles paid him in 2018. Can’t imagine he’ll be back. 

Mike Wallace: For a while, I thought maybe Wallace would be back on a cheap deal. But after trading for DeSean Jackson, the Eagles have found their deep threat. 

D.J. Alexander: Alexander was a key special teams contributor when healthy, but he missed four games in 2018. He is a former special teams Pro Bowler, but the addition of L.J. Fort might not bode well for the 27-year-old’s chances to return. Still a chance, though. 

LaRoy Reynolds: Another special teams linebacker, at least Reynolds played limited snaps on defense in 2018. Wouldn’t be the worst thing to bring him back. 

Darren Sproles: Sproles is 35 now and his initial plan was to retire. We haven’t heard otherwise yet, but we know he was thinking about one more season. Doug Pederson said he would welcome Sproles back, but I wouldn’t count on that happening. 

Richard Rodgers: The Eagles might sign a veteran tight end to be their third behind Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, so Rodgers is still a possibility. But maybe the Eagles would be happy with Josh Perkins or Will Tye, who are already on the roster. 

Chance Warmack: The Eagles need depth on the interior of their line, but I don’t want to hear the collective groan from all Eagles fans if they bring Warmack back. 

Corey Graham: My guess is Graham finally retires. He was really close after the 2017 season and I think this time it sticks.  

Tim Jernigan: The Eagles didn’t pick up Jernigan’s option, a move that saved them $7 million in cap space. Perhaps they could bring him back on a cheaper deal, but Malik Jackson is definitely the new starter next to Fletcher Cox. 

Chris Maragos: A significant knee injury suffered in 2017 kept Maragos out all of last season and he needed another surgery late in the year. Heckuva career for an undrafted safety.  

Stefen Wisniewski: The Eagles declined Wiz’s option and will save $3 million because of it. He’s on the market and maybe he’ll find that starter job he’s been coveting since he arrived to Philadelphia.

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Eagles' free agent running back Jay Ajayi starts lining up visits

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USA Today Images

Eagles' free agent running back Jay Ajayi starts lining up visits

Free agent running back Jay Ajayi, limited to just four games last year after suffering a Week 4 torn ACL against the Vikings, has a visit scheduled for next week with the Colts, according to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Colts head coach Frank Reich was the Eagles’ offensive coordinator in 2017, when the Eagles acquired Ajayi from the Dolphins midway through the season on their way to the Super Bowl championship.

Ajayi ran for 408 yards with a 5.8 average in seven games with the Eagles in 2017 and added another 184 yards and a 4.4 average in the postseason. This past year, he averaged 4.1 yards on just 45 carries before getting hurt. 

The Colts appear to be in good shape at running back, with Marlon Mack, who gained 908 yards with nine TDs and a 4.7 average last year in his second season; Jordan Wilkins, who averaged 5.6 yards on 60 carries last year as a rookie, and Nyheim Hines, who had 314 yards rushing and 63 receptions last year, also as a rookie.

Ajayi is only 25 but has dealt with injuries throughout his career and has played just 42 of a possible 64 games in his four NFL seasons. 

There is no denying Ajayi’s talent — his 4.5 career rushing average is tied for eighth-highest in the NFL among active running backs with at least 500 carries. But lingering questions about his health and the long-term prognosis of his knees are a concern.

The Eagles have only Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood, Josh Adams, Donnel Pumphrey and Boston Scott currently on the roster at running back.

So far, there's been no indication that they're interested in retaining Ajayi, although it's possible they are waiting to see what his value is on the open market before making an offer.

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