Darren Sproles

Eagles RB Darren Sproles Suffers Setback, Will Miss Multiple Weeks

Sunday, 8:55am: Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets that Sproles is expected to miss multiple weeks (one estimate suggested an absence of three to four weeks). The Eagles will be cautious with him so that when he returns to the field, he will be back for good. The way Sproles’ injury was handled by the team’s medical staff may be cause for concern, as we detailed yesterday.

Thursday, 11:39am: Earlier this week, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said he expected Darren Sproles to play on Sunday versus the Cowboys. Unfortunately, those plans were derailed after the running back aggravated his hamstring injury (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter). 

Sproles has not been on the field since hurting his hamstring in practice prior to the Eagles’ Week 2 game. Sproles showed significant improvement this week and the team believed that Sproles would be able to resume punt-return duties against the Cowboys. Instead of facing Dallas and joining Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement in the backfield rotation, Sproles’ outlook for the rest of the season is now in question.

Sproles’ 2017 was shortened by multiple injuries in September, meaning that he has played in just three games over the last two years. He already cashed in on a $1MM guarantee for this year, but Sproles is eager to resume the form that earned him three straight Pro Bowl nods between 2014-2016.

On the plus side, Eagles tackle Lane Johnson resumed practice this week after recovering from a Grade 2 MCL sprain. Pederson is hopeful that Johnson will play, but that would mark a faster-than-usual turnaround from the injury.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Falcons, Giants, Eagles, Bucs

The 1-4 Falcons could face the Buccaneers without running back Devonta Freeman, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Freeman, who missed three games with an MCL sprain, is actually dealing with a new injury, as Rapoport indicates it’s a bone bruise that’s threatening to keep Freeman out of Sunday’s action. While Freeman didn’t practice today, he did work on the side, although his status for Week 6 is “in doubt, per Rapoport. Without Freeman, Atlanta would deploy a Tevin Coleman/Ito Smith combination that was used in Weeks 2-5.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Speaking of injury news, the Giants have already ruled out tight end Evan Engram for Thursday night’s game against the Eagles, meaning Rhett Ellison, who has shouldered the load since Week 3, will take over at tight end once again. Edge rusher Oliver Vernon, who’s missed the entire season to this point with an ankle issue, will make his 2018 debut. On the other side of the field, the Eagles have listed defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, safety Corey Graham, and running back Darren Sproles as out. The latter two are especially concerning, as Philadelphia recent placed defensive back Rodney McLeod and running back Jay Ajayi on injured reserve.
  • Although Broncos head coach Vance Joseph said he’d make changes following a loss to the Jets on Sunday, defensive coordinator Joe Woods will not be relieved of his play-calling duties, tweets Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link). Denver gave up 512 yards of offense against New York, including a whopping 334 on the ground. Joseph, a former defensive coordinator himself, could potentially take over play-calling, but that’s not a move that will happen this week. Joseph also indicated that cornerback Bradley Roby, who was burned by Jets receiver Robby Anderson in Week 5, is still a starter “for now.” Adam Jones, who’s played on roughly a third of the Broncos’ defensive snaps thus far, could see more snaps if Roby is benched.
  • Under the terms of his five-year extension with the Buccaneers, guard Ali Marpet will earn $12.365MM through one year, $23.25MM through two years, and $33.5MM through three years, reports Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Among left guards, Marpet’s $11MM annual average now ranks third, behind only Andrew Norwell and Kelechi Osemele, while his $27.125MM in guarantees ranks second. Marpet, who has started 44 games during his time in the NFL, has displayed exceptional versatility, as he’s played both guard spots and center in his career.
  • Broncos linebacker Alexander Johnson pleaded guilty to simple possession and failure to exercise due care while driving but subsequently had a DUI charge against him dismissed, per a report from the Associated Press. Johnson’s original arrest occurred in the summer of 2017, more than a year before Denver gave him $50K in guaranteed money to sign as an undrafted free agent. A Tennessee product, Johnson hadn’t played football in more than four years before landing with the Broncos, in part due to a rape charge of which he was later acquitted. He’s been inactive for every game in 2018.

Injury Notes: Titans, Mariota, Falcons, McKinley, Colts, Doyle, Eagles, Ajayi

Marcus Mariota‘s injury remains a mystery. It hasn’t been disclosed exactly what he’s dealing with although it has reportedly caused him to lose some feeling in his hand. Blaine Gabbert started, and won, for the Titans last week, and it’s possible he’s asked to do so again this week against the Jaguars.

Titans coach Mike Vrabel told reporters that he would make the decision between Gabbert and Mariota within the next “24 hours” and that he would let them know then according to Jim Wyatt of the Titans’ official website (Twitter link). If Mariota can’t go it would be a huge blow for Tennessee against the league’s top defense. One thing that could make their matchup a bit easier is that Jalen Ramsey was added to the injury report Friday with an ankle injury, although it’s unclear if he’s in any danger of missing the game.

Here’s more injury updates from around the league:

  • The Falcons just can’t seem to catch a break. It was already known they’d be without Devonta Freeman and several other starters, but it was announced today that they’d also be without talented pass-rusher Takkarist McKinley. McKinley is currently dealing with a groin injury.
  • The Colts will be quite shorthanded for their trip to Philadelphia as the team ruled out tight end Jack Doyle, running back Marlon Mack, defensive tackle Denico Autry, and right tackle Anthony Castonzo. Doyle’s injury is a big blow, as he formed an effective tight end duo with Eric Ebron through the first two games.
  • The Eagles will also be significantly shorthanded on offense, with their backfield being particularly banged up. Running backs Jay Ajayi and Darren Sproles have been ruled out, while Corey Clement is questionable. If Clement isn’t able to go, the running back situation would be dire. Alshon Jeffery is questionable, but reporters have written that he’s very unlikely to play.

NFC Injury Notes: Rodgers, Falcons, Eagles

Aaron Rodgers will enter Sunday with a questionable designation on the Packers‘ injury report. The two-time MVP can improve his chances of playing, obviously, by practicing Saturday — when the Packers do more than the typical walkthrough — but not doing so won’t prevent him from playing. Mike McCarthy said he’d have no issues deploying Rodgers even if he doesn’t practice all week, per Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. The 13th-year Green Bay coach said his quarterback feels better than he did at the beginning of the week. Despite Rodgers’ performance on Sunday against the Bears and his history of playing through left knee pain, he’s not a lock to face the Vikings.

Here’s the latest from the NFC’s injury situations.

  • Another key Falcons cog won’t be available Sunday. After the losses of Keanu Neal and Deion Jones, Atlanta won’t have the services of starting running back Devonta Freeman. He’s been declared out due to the knee injury he suffered against the Eagles. Tevin Coleman will start. The Falcons have rookie Ito Smith and recently signed Brian Hill in place as backups.
  • Once again, the Giants won’t have their top pass rusher available. While the Giants are hoping to have Olivier Vernon in Week 3, per Paul Schwartz of the New York Post (on Twitter), his high ankle sprain will keep him out against the Cowboys.
  • Trai Turner‘s stay in Panthers concussion protocol will result in him missing this week’s game against the Falcons. He’s been declared out, putting Carolina down three starting offensive linemen — Turner and tackles Matt Kalil and Daryl Williams, both of whom residing on IR — going into its NFC South opener.
  • The already-banged-up Eagles didn’t come out of Week 1 unscathed. Darren Sproles will miss Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers. The 34-year-old passing-down back sustained a hamstring injury against the Falcons. He’ll join Carson Wentz and Alshon Jeffery among Philadelphia’s high-profile Week 2 absences.
  • Already without IR-stationed cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, the Bucs won’t have Brent Grimes available to cover Eagle wideouts, either. Tampa Bay used two second-round picks on corners, Carlton Davis and M.J. Stewart, and could see an extended glimpse of the rookies’ development to this point in their careers.
  • The Lions49ers game will see the visitors without top guard T.J. Lang and the hosts missing deep threat Marquise Goodwin. Both players have been declared out. Kyle Shanahan said (via Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area, on Twitter) Dante Pettis will start in place of Goodwin.

Darren Sproles To Retire After 2018 Season

Eagles running back Darren Sproles will retire from the NFL after the 2018 season, as the veteran explained in a post today.

“The plan was for 2017 to be my last season,” writes Sproles. “I was 34, had a great career, accomplished a lot—it was time. No one ever expected my career to last this long, over a decade but I was proud to prove them all wrong. Then my season ended a little earlier than expected, to an injury.

An injury is different; It’s something you don’t have any control over but I feel like I left a lot out there, and I couldn’t let my career end like that.”

As Sproles alludes to, he’d originally hinted that 2017 would be his final NFL campaign, but backtracked on that sentiment even before multiple injuries ended his season in September. Sproles not only suffered a torn ACL, but a broken arm during the first month of the 2017 season, which concluded with Sproles having played in just three games.

After deciding to return for 2018, Sproles inked a one-year deal with the Eagles that contains $1MM in guarantees. Now 35 years old, Sproles will be part of a Philadelphia backfield that also includes Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement, Matt Jones, Wendell Smallwood, and Donnel Pumphrey. Sproles should be guaranteed a roster spot, and will likely handle passing game work in the Eagles’ offense.

Maintaining value based on his receiving skills is nothing new for Sproles, who has never topped 100 carries in a season during his lengthy pro tenure. Sproles spent the early portion of his career as LaDainian Tomlinson‘s backup with the Chargers, but emerged to even greater prominence as a backfield weapon for Drew Brees and the Saints. He was shipped to the Eagles in 2015 in exchange for a fifth-round pick.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Rumors: Mayfield, Dolphins, Eagles

While multiple reports have indicated the Jets‘ goal for their No. 3 pick was Sam Darnold, their new heir apparent, Baker Mayfield‘s agent said the team was effusive in its praise for his client when he visited Gang Green headquarters in April.

When he visited the Jets, they pretty much said ‘You’re our guy if you’re there,'” Mayfield’s agent Jack Mills said on “The Business of Sport with Andrew Brandt” podcast (via Newsday). “(The Browns) didn’t say you’re our guy. I don’t know what they said. They liked him and (John) Dorsey never contacted us.”

It’s since come out the Browns had several executives independently declare Mayfield was the draft’s top quarterback, but for weeks, the Jets/Mayfield noise increased. However, this may well have been contingent on Darnold not getting past Cleveland.

Here’s the latest from the East divisions, continuing with a Dolphins draft what-if.

  • Here’s a nice chain reaction from the fourth round: the Ravens appear to have sought Miami running back Mark Walton with their fourth-round pick, but the Bengals took him at No. 112. This led to Baltimore selecting Alabama cornerback Anthony Averett at No. 118. This, in turn, depressed some in the Dolphins‘ war room. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald hears the Dolphins sought Averett with their fourth-rounder (No. 122), but they ended up drafting Notre Dame tight end Durham Smythe. This came after Miami already took Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki in Round 2.
  • The Dolphins have T.J. McDonald signed through 2020, but they may be considering moving him to linebacker, per Jackson. Miami extended McDonald last September and deployed him as a starting safety in eight games after his eight-game suspension ended. He graded as a middle-of-the-pack safety in the view of Pro Football Focus, but the analytics site rated McDonald as an upper-echelon run defender. Set to have Kiko Alonso and Raekwon McMillan start at two of their three linebacker spots, the Dolphins may have an interest in stationing McDonald at one of their outside positions. Although, they did draft former McMillan Ohio State teammate Jerome Baker in the third round.
  • Darren Sproles will make $1.015MM in base salary this season with the Eagles, per Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com. It’s uncertain what bonuses and incentives are in the 34-year-old running back’s contract, but Sproles is already on the books for this salary.
  • The Eagles are highly unlikely to pick up Nick Foles‘ mutual option in 2019, Parks notes. That figure is worth $20.6MM as a result of the renegotiated deal the Eagles and Foles agreed upon earlier this year. Foles faced a somewhat similar circumstance in 2016, when the Chiefs did not pick up an eight-figure option and sent him back into free agency. Shorr-Parks writes the Eagles understandably would be more willing to work out a long-term deal with their backup quarterback than have him stick around on that price.

Eagles Re-Sign Darren Sproles

Darren Sproles has agreed to return to the Eagles and play a 14th NFL season. The elusive running back agreed to terms with the defending Super Bowl champions, Howie Roseman announced Saturday. It’s a one-year deal with a total guarantee of $1MM, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. The pact can be worth up to $1.415M with $1.433M in likely to be earned incentives.

The Eagles had been in communication with Sproles for a while now, and he’ll be part of Philadelphia’s backfield picture again this season — which will be his fifth in eastern Pennsylvania.

Rumored to be on the lookout for running backs in this year’s draft, the Eagles used five picks on other positions last week. Sproles being back in the fold figures to provide a boost to the backfield, which lost LeGarrette Blount but still houses Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement. Philly also has Donnel Pumphrey and Wendell Smallwood on the team, but with Sproles back, there likely is only room on the 53-man roster for one of these players.

Sproles will turn 35 before this season begins and is coming off multiple severe injuries — a broken arm and a torn ACL. However, Roseman is optimistic he will be ready to play by Week 1 (via Philly.com’s Jeff McLane, on Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eagles Rumors: Bennett, Sproles, Celek

Eagles defensive end Michael Bennett appeared before a Texas judge on Monday afternoon following a felony charge of injury to the elderly related to an alleged incident at NRG Stadium following the Super Bowl, as ESPN.com’s Tim McManus tweets. Bond had been set at $10K and he will be permitted to travel between his home in Hawaii and the Houston area for court appearances. For more on the incident, click here.

Here’s the latest on the defending champs:

  • Running back Darren Sproles, who is a free agent, could still be a part of the Eagles’ plans in 2018. “He’s expressed he wants to be back here. He knows we want him back here. Yeah, heck yeah,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said when asked about Sproles at the owners’ meetings (via Jeff McLane of the Inquirer). “He’s a big part of our team. Punt returner. He was a tremendous back, third-down guy. Yeah, so we’ll see where that falls out.”
  • The Eagles like this year’s tight end draft class and are likely to add one in April, but Pederson didn’t rule out a Brent Celek return. “I think that’s a player you’d consider bringing back, especially if you weren’t able to fit all the pieces together at the spot. So he’s definitely in that conversation,” (Twitter link via Zach Berman of the Inquirer). Celek was released earlier this month in order to save $4MM against the cap, but it sounds like the Eagles would be open to a reunion at a lesser rate.

Top 2018 NFL Free Agents By Position: Offense

NFL free agency will get underway on Wednesday, March 14th, and while the list of free agents will change between now and then, we do have some idea of who will be available when free agency kicks off. The frenzy is right around the corner and it’s time for us to break down the outlook for each position. We’ll start today on offense, before getting to defense and special teams later this week.

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each offensive position. The rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts that each player is expected to land in free agency, they are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account. Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents are not listed here since they are unlikely to actually reach the open market. The same goes for players who have been franchise tagged or transition tagged.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some guys than you are, so we encourage you to make your voice heard in our comments section to let us know which free agents we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by offensive position for 2018:

Quarterback:

  1. Kirk Cousins
  2. Drew Brees
  3. Case Keenum
  4. A.J. McCarron
  5. Sam Bradford
  6. Teddy Bridgewater
  7. Colin Kaepernick
  8. Josh McCown
  9. Mike Glennon
  10. Drew Stanton
  11. Jay Cutler
  12. Chase Daniel
  13. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  14. Brock Osweiler
  15. Tom Savage

There were many difficult calls when putting this list together, but ranking Kirk Cousins as the No. 1 QB available was not among them. Cousins is the best quarterback to reach free agency in recent history and he’ll become the highest-paid player of all-time – at least, for some period of time – in mid-March. Who will make history with Cousins? That’s anyone’s guess right now. The Browns have more cap room than any other team, but a recent report from Adam Schefter of ESPN.com listed the Broncos, Cardinals, Jets, and Vikings as the final suitors for Cousins. Of those four, the Jets have the most money to work with, but they’re concerned about the Vikings winning out and Cousins’ desire to win could point him in another direction. If the Broncos and Cardinals want in on the Cousins sweepstakes, they’ll have to get creative with the books.

Drew Brees is included here, but by his own admission, he’ll be re-signing with the Saints rather than testing the open waters of free agency. Unless the Saints lowball their franchise QB, it’s hard to see him leaving New Orleans.

Case Keenum put together a tremendous season for the Vikings, but he doesn’t have a history of success beyond 2017. There will be plenty of interest in Keenum, but only after QB-needy teams strike out on Cousins. The incumbent Vikings could re-sign Keenum, but right now, it seems like they are intent on exploring the Cousins waters first.

There isn’t a ton of footage on A.J. McCarron, which made his placement on this list awfully tricky. We know this much: McCarron did well in place of Dalton in the home stretch of the 2015 season and his former offensive coordinator Hue Jackson was salivating at the chance of landing him before the Browns bungled the trade with the Bengals. McCarron’s relative youth is a plus (he won’t turn 28 until September) and his lack of experience can be looked at as a positive. Unlike some of the other names on this list, he hasn’t run up his NFL odometer.

What will NFL teams make of Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford this offseason? Not long ago, both seemed like quality starting options. However, there are serious injury questions about both players and any team signing them will either look to backstop them with another decent option or ask them to come onboard as a QB2. With that in mind, one has to wonder if Bradford would consider retirement if asked to hold the clipboard for another signal caller. Bradford has earned upwards of $110MM over the years in the NFL, so it’s safe to say that he has enough money in the bank to call it quits if he wants. For now, he’s intent on playing.

Colin Kaepernick‘s placement on this list is sure to draw some strong reactions from his fans and detractors alike. Looking purely at his football ability, there’s no question that he belongs on someone’s roster. At minimum, Kaepernick profiles as a high-end backup, even after a year out of the game.

Quarterbacks coaches have long believed that Mike Glennon is capable of great things, due in part to his height. At 6’7″, he can see over any defensive line, but he hasn’t done much on the field to prove that he is a quality Week 1 starting option. Josh McCown, who is a decade his senior, edges him here for his surprisingly strong performance in 2017 at the helm of a weak Jets offense.

Read more

Darren Sproles Leaning Towards Return

Eagles running back Darren Sproles has yet to decide on his football future. However, he says that he is leaning towards playing in 2018 (Twitter link via Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer). Darren Sproles (vertical)

Sproles is still recovering from his knee injury, but he indicated that he wanted to leave the game on a higher note. “I can’t end like this,” Sproles said.

The diminutive runner had high hopes for this season, but he was forced out in Week 3 when he simultaneously suffered a broken forearm and a torn ACL. Sproles will turn 35 this summer, but his three consecutive Pro Bowl nods prior to this year indicate that he still has some football left in him. In 2016, he set a new personal watermark with 94 carries while also catching 52 passes. The 865 yards from scrimmage were the third-highest total of his career.

If Sproles does decide to return, it may or may not be with the Eagles. His contract expires at the end of this year, meaning that he’ll be eligible for free agency in March.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.