What does the Darren Sproles signing mean to other backs such as Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood, and more?
The Philadelphia Eagles have done it again. Just when we thought the Darren Sproles era in the backfield was over, the front office went out and brought back the 36-year-old running back. There’s been some speculation over the last month or so about a potential reunion, but it truly seemed like the Eagles were moving on after multiple moves were made regarding the backfield.
As it turns out, the Eagles still aren’t one-hundred percent content with their running backs. So now, a crowded backfield gets even more crowded ahead of training camp, and other young running backs have officially been put on notice. Throughout the spring, Jordan Howard, Boston Scott, Wendell Smallwood, and Donnel Pumphrey have been the most active backs.
Unfortunately, Josh Adams, Corey Clement, and the rookie Miles Sanders have been nursing injuries for the most part. By training camp though, the Eagles are likely expecting to have a full backfield, which will now include the long-time veteran, Darren Sproles.
What does this mean for the backfield?
So reading the tea leaves here, who’s in the most danger this summer now that Sproles is back in the mix? Well, first and foremost let me just say this — Darren Sproles has little-to-no chance of getting released. Some would say he’s here to spark some competition while fighting for a roster spot, but that’s simply not the case. Sproles is on the roster right now. Therefore, he will be on the roster for the entire 2019 NFL season.
Both Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders are safe. They are the newest additions, which cost the Eagles draft picks to get. That leaves the fourth running back and beyond as the potential odd men out. How many running backs will the Eagles keep in 2019? We’re not exactly sure. After last year’s injury concerns, they might hold onto a hefty committee for insurance purposes.
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Right now, the names on the hot seat, in no particular order, list as Corey Clement, Josh Adams, Wendell Smallwood, Boston Scott, and Donnel Pumphrey. While I believe Clement makes the team, it has become obvious that the Eagles aren’t very confident in him as the third back as they once were. Perhaps they believe Clement’s Super Bowl contributions were a fluke? It’s unclear. However, it’s pretty clear they don’t view him as a better option than Sproles right now.
Then, there’s Wendell Smallwood, Boston Scott, and Josh Adams. Over the spring, Scott was dubbed as a ‘Darren Sproles-type’ of player, but it doesn’t seem like he lived up to those expectations. The former Saints ‘practice squadder’ could be on his way out soon.
As for Smallwood, he seems to have nine lives with the Eagles. Ever since his Sophomore season with the Birds, many assumed Smallwood wouldn’t make the cut. Yet, here we are four years later. While I don’t believe the Eagles need Smallwood that much, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him make it through final cuts. Finally, there’s Josh Adams — the Eagles’ lead rusher for 2018.
Adams showed flashes last season, but his rise to being a lead back was short-lived. By the time playoffs rolled around, the Eagles went from giving Adams most of the carries, to not giving him any carries at all. We never really received an explanation as to why they quit on Adams last season, but it tells us all we need to know about Adams’ status on the team. I’d guess he’s one of the odd men out, joining Scott, Pumphrey, and potentially Smallwood.