Bears trade Jordan Howard to Eagles for 2020 draft pick

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CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - JANUARY 06:  Jordan Howard #24 of the Chicago Bears warms up before the NFC Wild Card Playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles  at Soldier Field on January 06, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
After three years in Chicago, Jordan Howard is headed to Philadelphia. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

One year into head coach Matt Nagy’s tenure, the Chicago Bears have moved on from running back Jordan Howard.

The team traded Howard to the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday for a pick in the 2020 NFL draft, the team announced Thursday. Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Bears will receive a sixth-round pick, though it could become a fifth-round pick.

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Howard’s Bears career ends after three seasons. The power back made the Pro Bowl as a rookie to the tune of 1,313 rushing yards (5.2 yards per carry) and six touchdowns, but his production slipped in subsequent years.

He lost plenty of snaps his sophomore year to Tarik Cohen in 2017, then had his role even more diminished in 2018 with the addition of Nagy, whose offensive system didn’t have much use for a running back like Howard. The 24-year-old posted nine touchdowns in both seasons, but he averaged just 3.9 yards per carry and wasn’t productive in the receiving game with just 270 total yards.

Despite that downturn, it’s still surprising to see Howard fetch only a late-round draft pick in a trade. Of course, the Bears have been rumored to be trying to move Howard for months, so the trade market might have been suppressed.

How Jordan Howard fits on the Eagles

Howard joins a Philadelphia backfield that has operated more by committee in recent years. Last season, not a single running back averaged more than 50 rushing yards per game.

The Eagles running back roster currently includes Josh Adams, Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood and Boston Scott. Adams and Smallwood were the most productive backs of the group last season, but Howard figures to have first shot as the primary running back.

The addition of Howard also likely means the Eagles are moving on from free agent Jay Ajayi, who was set to be the team’s primary back last year until a torn ACL in Week 5 ended his season.

Where the Jordan Howard trade leaves the Bears

Without Howard, the Bears’ running back depth chart gets dicey. Tarik Cohen is talented and one of the hardest players in the league to tackle when he has space, but he’s also listed at 5-foot-6 and 181 pounds. That is nowhere close to the size usually needed to last as a feature back.

The other running back of note is Mike Davis, who the team signed as a free agent this offseason. Davis was solid for the Seattle Seahawks last season, posting 728 rushing yards and 4.6 yards per rush, but he’s also not exactly the kind of back teams plan an offense around.

Howard was never the best fit for Nagy’s pass-heavy scheme, but his departure might still be an indicator the Bears have further plans at running back, particularly in the upcoming NFL draft.

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