2021 Eagles free agency: 5 possible Eagles running back targets

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Dave Zangaro
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5 running backs for Eagles to target in free agency originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Eagles are in a tricky salary cap situation as free agency approaches, so don’t expect them to make any big splashes.

With that in mind, for this series we’ll look at some cheaper options as the Eagles try to fill out their first roster under Nick Sirianni. Free agency begins on March 17 and the legal tampering window opens March 15.

Today we’ll look at running backs.

The Eagles will bring back Miles Sanders for his third season and will bring back Boston Scott, who is an exclusive rights free agent. But Corey Clement is set to be an unrestricted free agent and they might look to bolster that room with another veteran. Remember, Sirianni will probably run the ball more than Doug Pederson did.

Marlon Mack

Like most of these lists this offseason, we’re starting with a player who has a connection to the new coaching staff. Mack was already in Indianapolis when Sirianni arrived with Frank Reich in 2018, but Mack reached new highs with Sirianni as his OC. In 2018, Mack rushed for 908 yards and 9 touchdowns and in 2019, he went for 1,091 and 8. He’s not even 25 yet and has a career yards per attempt average of 4.4. The downside is that Mack tore his Achilles in Week 1 in 2020 and is coming off that major injury. But that might actually be good news for the cap-strapped Eagles. If Mack is looking for a prove-it deal somewhere, maybe he’d join the Eagles and his former OC for a discount.

Jamaal Williams

During the first four years of his career, Williams has been a complementary back but has been productive. He has had at least 460 yards each season and has also had at least 25 catches in each season. He’d be a really good No. 2 unless there’s a team out there willing to pay him No. 1 money. That could be the case too.

T.J. Yeldon

He’s 27 now and he’s a couple years removed from his productive seasons. The last two years in Buffalo, he’s played in just 9 games and had just 133 total rushing yards and 146 receiving yards. But his last year in Jacksonville in 2018 was a good one. He rushed for 414 yards (4.0) and caught 55 passes for 487 yards. Being in the AFC South, Sirianni and Jonathan Gannon know him well and he has the pass-catching ability that Sirianni likes from his running backs.

Matt Breida

The 25-year-old spent the 2020 season in Miami but didn’t play a ton. He ended up with 59 carries for 254 yards and just nine catches. His best season came with the 49ers in 2018, when he rushed for 814 yards (5.3) and 3 touchdowns. Why would the Eagles be interested in him? Cheap speed. Breida likely won’t cost much and he ran a 4.38 at the Georgia Southern pro day back in 2017.

Samaje Perine

OK, we’re talking about long shots now, but that’s OK. Perine is a former 4th-round pick who had a nice season in Washington as a rookie (603 yards) but hasn’t done much since then. In 2020, he had 63 carries for 301 yards (4.8) and 3 touchdowns. Perine (5-11, 240) actually proved to be pretty elusive in 2020. In fact, according to PFF, he had the league’s fourth-highest elusive rating among running backs with at least 50 carries. He averaged 2.4 yards after contact in 2020.

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