Sproles Denies Contact Issues
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Darren Sproles has one year left on his contract and has stayed away from the Eagles' voluntary work this offseason but the veteran running back is denying that he is wrangling for a new deal.
An NFL source told 973espn.com the opposite and claims the veteran running back would like an extension, something he took to Twitter to deny on Wednesday.
It's certainly possible people are just intimating things from Sproles' actions because the diminutive back will turn 33 next month and it makes sense to fight for everything you can from a monetary perspective while you are still perceived as a contributor.
With DeMarco Murray now in Nashville, Sproles is penciled in as the main complement to the oft-injured Ryan Mathews in the Eagles' backfield with rookie fifth-round pick Wendell Smallwood pushing from there.
On Tuesday, NFL Media reported that Sproles was the subject of trade discussions during the draft and because of that he planned to stay away from the team until “that is sorted out,” obviously an indication that there is some kind of problem that needs to be addressed.
On Tuesday Eagles coach Doug Pederson said he expected Sproles to be back for mandatory minicamp and denied there was any interest from Philadelphia in trading him.
“We had no decisions to do that whatsoever,” Pederson said when asked about a potential deal for Sproles. “I want Darren Sproles on this football team. He’s a big part of this football team.”
So then why is Sproles staying away from all the voluntary workouts?
After all, the other veterans who have missed time over the past number of weeks had a reason for doing so. Fletcher Cox is staying away in hopes of garnering a massive extension and Sam Bradford left for a bit to try to force a trade.
“I think (Sproles is) at the point of his career and I’ve been there too where he wants to spend time with his family,” Pederson claimed. “He’s knows what it takes to be ready to go and I expect he will be in a couple of weeks.”
There's little doubt Sproles will be in Philadelphia when things become mandatory but there is also some smoke to the fire of Sproles wanting an extended deal.
“He and I are in direct communication and we’ve been talking all offseason,” Pederson said. “I have no issues with Darren Sproles. I expect him to be here for mandatory camp. Obviously this a voluntary program so I can’t fault him for not being here.”
As for now the head coach is playing up the skills of Smallwood, claiming he has some similar traits to Sproles.
"Here is a guy I think can be explosive, has shown some explosiveness," Pederson said of the Wilmington native. "I really like the fact how he catches the football out of the backfield. I think that is something that is just a gift that he has. He's a natural, a natural pass catcher. I like that part of him."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973ESPN.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen