Eagles Get Their Bell Cow in Jordan Howard
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - It might not be the elusive three-down back the Eagles have been searching for but the team likely secured its lead back in what has been a committee approach during the Doug Pederson era, agreeing to send a conditional 2020 sixth-round pick to Chicago for Jordan Howard.
Howard finished his third season in Chicago with a career-worst 935 yards rushing at a pedestrian 3.7 yards-per-carry and had been on the market since Matt Nagy arrived in the Windy City before the 2018 season.
Once the Bears signed Mike Davis in free agency to pair with dynamic third-down back Tarik Cohen, it became clear that Howard was the odd man out even after setting the franchise's rookie record with 1,313 yards as a fourth-round pick out of Indiana back in 2016.
A powerful 6-foot-1, 225-pound back, Howard also cracked the 1,000-yard mark as a sophomore in 2017 but has never been much of a receiving threat, ranging from 20 receptions last season to a career-high 29 as a rookie.
Howard is the typical cost-effective Howie Roseman pick as 2019 will be the final year of his rookie contract at just $2 million. The sixth-round pick in 2020 earmarked for Chicago could turn into a fifth-round selection if Howard reaches certain playing time conditions with the Eagles.
In Doug Pederson's offense, Howard will immediately be penciled in as the lead back in a committee approach which also employs Corey Clement, Josh Adams, Wendell Smallwood, Boston Scott and Donnel Pumphrey. Both Jay Ajayi and Darren Sproles are free agents and the acquisition of Howard effectively shuts the door on Ajayi returning to Philadelphia.
Since entering the NFL, Howard has the third-most rushing yards of any running back (3,370), behind only Ezekiel Elliott (4,048) and Todd Gurley (3,441). Meanwhile, Eagles personnel chief Joe Douglas was the Bears director of college scouting for the 2016 draft before moving to Philadelphia in May of that year.
Howard is penciled to be the fourth lead back in the four-year Pederson era after Ryan Mathews, LeGarrette Blount and Ajayi.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen