The Eagles have completely overhauled their wide receiving corps.
From the minute the team drafted Carson Wentz second overall in 2016, they made a committment to build an offense around their franchise quarterback, and when free agency started in March they put their money where their mouths were, backing up Brinks trucks to sign Alshon Jeffery to a one-year deal, and a three-year deal (with opt outs) for Torrey Smith.
With tight ends Zach Ertz and Brent Celek tied up long-term, the Eagles added depth and built for the future by taking Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson at wide receiver on the 2017 NFL draft’s third day.
However, when it came to running back the Eagles were less aggressive.
They drafted Donnell Pumphrey on Day 3, a small speedy running back with lots of mileage, but didn’t do anything to address their lack of a future star at the position. And with Ryan Mathews possibly on his way out as he recovers from offseason surgery, the team is left with few options at the spot.
“We’re really excited to make sure that we got Pumphrey, and then we like the players that are in the building,” Howie Roseman said on the Eagles’ running back situation shortly after the draft. “We’ve got Ryan [Mathews], we’ve got Darren [Sproles], Wendell [Smallwood], and Byron Marshall is a guy who can cross-train and play receiver and running back, as well.
“We’ve got some talent at that position, and we’re excited to see them.”
Sproles retires at the end of the year and Smallwood and Marshall have proven little in the NFL. The door is open for a veteran bruiser, someone who can handle third down duties and mentor the youth in the RB room.
Enter Patriots free agent LeGarrette Blount, who remains a free agent as minicamps approach.
Blount will be expecting a bigger deal in 2017 after earning just $1 million in New England last year. Spotrac.com says his market value is $4.3 million, a sum the Eagles can certainly not afford for a running back. The 30-year-old led all NFL running backs with 18 touchdowns last year while also running for 1,161 yards.
But this late in the free agent market teams are getting more and more leverage, and a team-friendly deal could wind up working in the Eagles’ favor.