That was it. The Eagles had signed receivers Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin, their two biggest unknowns on offense heading into the offseason, and they now could focus on the other side of the ball up through May.
Uh, yeah, Chip Kelly had (at least) one more trick up his sleeve on his burgeoning offense.
On Thursday, the New Orleans Saints traded running back Darren Sproles to the Eagles, according to various media reports. The Saints had considered cutting Sproles but wisely held onto him once it was clear there was a vibrant trade market for his services.
The Eagles traded a fifth-round pick to the Saints, one they had received for Isaac Sopoaga last season.
[Be sure to check out Shutdown Corner's NFL free-agent rankings. Click here for the list of offensive players, and click here for the list of defensive and special teams players]
One of the teams pursuing Sproles and that appeared to be in on him until the final moments was the Redskins, who lost out to a division rival.
On the surface, you might think, "Why Philly?" But Sproles adds an obvious mismatch piece to an offense full of them. LeSean McCoy might be a younger, quicker version of Sproles, but McCoy also needs a breather here and here. He played an extremely high total of 813 snaps last season, more than 50 per game, and totaled career-highs for carries (314) and touches (366) en route to 2,146 total yards from scrimmage.
Even as he turns 26 years old this summer, McCoy's workload has been pretty high and he's closing in on 1,500 touches for his career.
Sproles is a great option on screens, inside draws and even fake screens. His short-area burst still manages to surprise teams at times, even as he's slowing down at age 31. He carried the ball only 53 times a season ago for the Saints, which run a similarly paced offense as the Eagles, but he had 71 receptions. Sproles also returns punts and kickoffs, although his production dropped off in both areas precipitously last season. He's best as a breather guy at both spots now.
So even though this is a part-time player we're talking about, Sproles is a perfect fit in Philly. Kelly even can play Sproles and McCoy on the field together, with defenses having to choose which one to respect the most. Sproles is still good for a shot of life and is excellent in the up-tempo offense. He also pass blocks and runs excellent routes.
The Eagles struck on a great, little addition on offense. Now, about that defense ... there's still work to be done, even with Sproles' former teammate, safety Malcolm Jenkins, coming on board.
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