Saints running back Darren Sproles has officially been traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick. Dealing with injury issues this past NFL season, Sproles is coming off of one of his worst statistical seasons of his career thus far. Still, Sproles, age 30, through his career has established himself across the NFL as a tailback who is feared by opponents due to his versatility and ability to shake defenders in a heartbeat. Although Sproles is technically considered a running back, he is most valued for his versatility as a punt return specialist while also collecting the majority of his yard total through catching the ball through the air. Previously with the Saints, Sproles set an NFL single season record for all-purpose yards in 2011 recording 1,067 rushing yards and 1,981 receiving yards giving him a grand total of 2,696 yards total. For Sproles, rushing and receiving yards is not all, there’s more. In addition to leading the league in all-purpose yards in 2011, Sproles added 1,089 yards from kick returns as well as 294 yards from punt returns. Hence, with the trade to the Eagles, Sproles will be joining his third NFL team of his career after previously spending his first five seasons with the Chargers and his last three seasons with the Saints.
The trade agreed upon between the Eagles and Saints that has sent Darren Sproles to Philadelphia is one that has potential to pay off big dividends for the Eagles. Looking at the Eagles offensive roster going into next season, Sproles appears to fit perfectly into head coach Chip Kelly’s offense that is built around speed. As it appears on paper currently regarding the running back situation in Philadelphia, Sproles will be looking to compliment Pro-Bowl running back LeSean McCoy in the backfield for the Eagles. With the addition of Darren Sproles to the mix, the Eagles present an offense that features a volatile backfield that is complimented by a promising young quarterback in Nick Foles and talented speedy wide receivers such as DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. Worth noting, however, is that Sproles was not in fact a primary focus in the Saints Offensive scheme last season, playing in less than 35 percent of the plays during the 15 games in which he was on the teams active roster. In addition, his averages in production pertaining to both rushing and receiving had declined last season in comparison to previous years.
In final analysis, Darren Sproles has undoubtedly proven himself among one of the NFL’s most versatile players in the game today. The trade that has sent Sproles to the Eagles in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick to the Saints can only be perceived as a winning deal for the Eagles. Given the Eagles only gave up one of the teams two fifth-round draft picks in exchange for a high caliper player such as Darren Sproles, the Eagles have given up little for a potential impact player that could really boost an already potent offense.
Commentary by Robert Lucas
Los Angeles Times