Who stays, who goes: Philadelphia Eagles running backs

The Eagles finished with 2,715 rushing yards in 2021, breaking a franchise record since 1949.

Yes there were 17 games last season for the first time and that was well past the 12 played by the league when an 11-1 Championship side rushed just over 100 yards from less, but you get it, Nick Sirianni’s racing game was really effective in 2021.

Jalen Hurts’ offensive line and ability as the so-called plus one in the ground game gets most of the credit for that and rightly so, but all of the Eagles running backs have been effective at times when they had an opportunity from RB1 Miles Sanders to the rise of Jason Huntley’s practice squad in Week 18.

Yet there is still great uncertainty at the position for a number of reasons, including that a potential second contract is now in the conversation for Sanders, a player who looks good on the surface but has significant flaws. as you begin to peel the game. onion from his game.

Then comes the assessment of standing in the NFL as a whole, where it is believed that a second deal for big money will present diminishing returns, with only the biggest and most dominant names cashing in.

Overall, Sanders, who turns 25 on May 1, has remained a bit of a disappointment in 2021 despite rushing for 754 yards at 5.5 yards per clip, both second on the team against Hurts and that latest superlative number. for an RB.

The third-year pro, however, missed five games with an assortment of injuries that included an ankle, quad and finally a broken hand while failing to take proper action as a pass catcher or pass protector.

As a runner, meanwhile, Sanders still leaves far too much meat on the bone that OL provide, and still has ball security issues. He also didn’t hit the home runs he became known for, his longest rush of the season being 38 yards, a career low in that category for the Penn State product.

Check out more about each running back in this gallery:

Jordan Howard answers questions after practice on Saturday August 14, 2021
Boston Scott after Eagles training camp practice on July 30, 2021
Kenny Gainwell

Sanders is about to enter the final year of his rookie contract, but it’s hard to imagine anything being done contract-wise until the 2022 season, like what happened. spent this season with members of the 2018 draft class.

What you can glean from Nick Sirianni’s Week 1 and the early-season ethos as a whole is that he’d rather have a bell cow paired with a third back, not the committee approach towards which the Eagles turned out of necessity.

Veteran Jordan Howard, 27, could be more valuable to the Eagles than anyone else and another one-year contract for the veteran minimum could be in sight.

Howard, who finished with 406 yards on 86 carries with three touchdowns, admitted he didn’t garner much interest in the league last year in free agency before returning to Philadelphia where he spent the seven first games on the practice squad until he was pushed into action. .

Howard’s size and north-south running style is tailor-made for the Eagles’ powerful offensive line, but lingering stinging issues have surfaced and the Eagles could look to turn the page if they’re able to. get younger option 2 or 3 days in draft.

Boston Scott (87-373, seven touchdowns) turns 27 at the end of April and is a favorite of the coaching staff.

He should be offered as a restricted free agent and is one of the best RB3s in the NFL with a nose for the goal line.

FOLLOWING: Who stays, who continues with the Philadelphia Eagles: the quarterbacks

Kenny Gainwell, 22, has a huge advantage as a catcher out of the backfield so much so that in the second half of the season the Eagles made him work with both the RB and WR rooms at certain times.

Gainwell will be the guy as a receiver for his second NFL campaign after finishing the first with 291 yards on 68 carries and added 33 receptions for 253 more with six combined touchdowns.

Huntley was lifted from the practice squad for the meaningless Week 18 final and showed both his speed and kick-return ability, the latter being the route to contribution, especially with the struggles of Jalen Reagor and Quez Watkins in this role.

TO STAY: Miles Sanders (for 2022, no extension), Boston Scott, Kenny Gainwell, Jason Huntley

GO: Jordan Howard

-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com’s EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports chat host Jody McDonald every morning from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. on “Birds 365,” which streams live on PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show ‘Extending the Play’ on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at [email protected] or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

Ed Kracz is SI.com’s Eagle Maven editor and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles Where www.eaglemaven.com and follow him on Twitter: @kracze.

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