Eagles Got Darren Sproles at a Good Price
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Darren Sproles wasn't going to break the bank as a running back in his mid-30s coming off a torn ACL and a broken arm but the veteran back wanted one more year to go out on his own terms and had a rather persuasive advocate at the NovaCare Complex in Doug Pederson.
"We had been talking to Darren before the draft. It's been a priority to get Darren back," Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman said when announcing Sproles will return for 2018 at the end of the NFL Draft. "I think I got the message when Coach [Pederson] would come by my office -- I don't know, maybe once a day or twice a day -- and say, ‘What's going on with Darren? When are we getting Sproles back?’ And I said, ‘I got the message, Coach.’"
Pederson is very comfortable with Sproles' well-rounded skill set and he was arguably at the top of the team's RB-by-committee approach through 2016 and until he got hurt last season in Week 3 at the New York Giants.
Sproles, who will turn 35 in June, intimated retirement before the injury but obviously wanted a better curtain call even though the Eagles themselves persevered without players like him, Jason Peters, Jordan Hicks, Chris Maragos and Carson Wentz to win Super Bowl LII.
With the Eagles against the cap as it is trading out of the first round in the draft and eschewing the contract that comes along with it created enough space to bring Sproles back for a 14th and likely final NFL season.
"Being able to trade back also allowed us to get some cap room," Roseman said. "We're really excited about that.
"... I think some of the things about trading back, when you're able to get some cap room and free up some money, it allows you to do things like this. So, we looked at that as we were making these moves. So, we're really excited about bringing Darren back. He's really excited to be back in green."
The contract details are in and Sproles got a modest $400,000 to sign and a one-year, $1.415M deal, which maxes out at $1.433M with likely to be earned incentives), according to NFL media. The total guarantee for Sproles is $1M, not what he's used to so but a workable compromise for two sides working together.
The 5-foot-6, 190-pound Sproles is expected to mix right back in with a committee which also now includes Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement, while also returning to his punt return job where he is regarded as one of the best in league history.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen