Dec 28, 2014; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore (21) rushes for a gain during the fourth quarter against the Arizona Cardinals at Levi
After trading away all pro running, LeSean McCoy, to the Buffalo Bills for linebacker Kiko Alonso, the Philadelphia Eagles left a gaping hole in their offense. This hole looked like it was going to be filled by former San Franciso 49er and all pro, Frank Gore. This was an interesting move, slightly unexpected, but left a lot to be excited about along with a lot to be scared about. As it turns we may not need to worry about Frank Gore after all.
Gore has decided to back out of the deal with the Eagles to think things over. At this point in time it looks very likely that he will shun the Eagles for the Indianapolis Colts. Therefore we need to figure out who will play running back for the Eagles in 2015.
Jan 4, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray (29) carries the ball as he is chased by Detroit Lions defensive end Devin Taylor (92) and Glover Quin (27) during the third quarter in the NFC Wild Card Playoff Game at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
In free agency, the Eagles still have some very solid options. The top option is former Dallas Cowboy DeMarco Murray. At this point, based on a lack of serious suitors, if I were the Eagles I would make a push to sign Murray. It’s a two point swing because you gain an elite talent and the Cowboys lose one.
Murray had his best year because of being behind a top offensive line. The Eagles also have a top offensive line so Murray can continue to be successful. Murray’s camp also said that they think he might be able to get eight million a year. Based on this comment I believe that if a contender like the Eagles with such an attractive offense for a running back offered 6.5-7 million a year, he would take it.
Sep 28, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller (28) rushes against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
The other top option in free agency for the Eagles is former Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller. Spiller is a very talented runner that can do everything, and would provide a great addition to the Eagles stable of running backs.
Former Baltimore Ravens running back Justin Forsett; former New England Patriots running back Shane Vereen; and former San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews are all solid options as well. Forsett and Vereen wouldn’t provide much diversity from the type of talent the Eagles have in Darren Sproles, but nevertheless would be talented additions.
To me the better route to find a top running back is to groom your own through the talent in the draft. The Eagles have quite a few options there. The first option is using their first round pick on either Melvin Gordon of Wisconsin, or Todd Gurley of Georgia. Either of these two running backs would not only be a great replacement for Shady McCoy, but could also turn out to be an upgrade and at a cheap price too. The problem is that the Eagles seem to have their eye on a quarterback from Oregon in round one.
Dec 27, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; Nebraska Cornhuskers running back Ameer Abdullah (8) runs in for a touchdown as USC Trojans safety John Plattenburg (24) defends during the third quarter in the 2014 Holiday Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
A more likely option for the Eagles could come in round two. My top choice for the Eagles is Ameer Abdullah of Nebraska. Abdullah has as much talent as I have seen in a running back in years. His only downside is his size, but Chip Kelly has success getting running backs into space so that their size doesn’t matter the same way. The Eagles have other options in round two or three that could end up being stars in Indiana’s Tevin Coleman, Boise State’s Jay Ajayi, Miami’s Duke Johnson, or even Northern Iowa’s David Johnson.
Any of these running backs could easily step in and try to fill the void left by Shady McCoy. Frank Gore would have been a very solid option too, but he might decide to take his business elsewhere. On the off chance that Gore does come to Philly I would not rule out a later round running back joining the team as well.
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