A look at Darren Sproles and Nolan Carroll, the two new Eagles.
For the second day in a row, the Philadelphia Eagles made their move early. At first, they traded one of their two 2014 fifth-round picks to the New Orleans Saints for Darren Sproles. Then, before the dust had settled down, the Eagles announced the signing of former Miami Dolphins cornerback Nolan Carroll.
Sproles is 30 years old and is no stranger to football fans. The “Lightning Bug” has been in the league since 2005, when he was drafted by the San Diego Chargers. After five years with the Chargers, he signed with the New Orleans Saints.
In his first season there he enjoyed career-bests in rushing yards, receiving yards and touchdowns scored. His numbers went down in 2012 and dropped even more in 2013. During his tenure there, Sproles amassed over 5,550 all-purpose yards and 22 touchdowns.
Carroll is relatively unknown, but he was among the free-agent cornerbacks that made sense for Eagles. The Birds needed depth at the position, since they had no legit backup to starters Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher. Carroll is 27 years old, almost 6-feet tall and comes off a very good season with the Dolphins – he played in all 16 games and recorded three picks. He allowed a 65.0 passer rating to opposing quarterbacks.
Both players will have the chance to make an impact in 2014. Sproles is the fourth running back on the Eagles roster (the fifth if you take Matthew Tucker into account), but the competition doesn’t touch him much.
Sproles is more of a receiver than a running back. On offense, he will be Chip Kelly’s Swiss Army knife. He can be lined up in the backfield as well as in the slot position. Imagine the various looks and plays Kelly can add to the playbook with him on the roster, next to DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper, LeSean McCoy, Brent Celek and Zach Ertz. Wheel routes and screens will be a big part of the gameplan.
Sproles is also a stout kick returner and he is probably going to take over that role in Philadelphia.
Carroll was brought in as a backup and insurance policy, but he is going to compete for a starting job with Williams and Fletcher. His most impressive feat is his ball skills. He also has the experience (has played in 58 games) to start on the outside for the Eagles. No matter what, he is still better than Roc Carmichael, who served as the first backup last season.
Like the majority of Eagles free agency signings, Carroll can play special teams too.
What the Eagles s have in Darren Sproles and Nolan Carroll are not just two backups. Even though they are not projected as full-time starters, they weren’t brought in just to provide depth. Their presence makes the team stronger at special teams and also gives extra options at offense and defense.