Eagles Stay or Go 2020: Figuring out Eagles’ running back rotation in 2020

NBC Sports Philadelphia Staff
NBC Sports Philadelphia

Reuben Frank, Dave Zangaro and Andrew Kulp bring back Stay or Go with the 2020 version, trying to figure out the future of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Today, we'll look at running backs: 

Miles Sanders

Roob: It was a truly historic rookie season for Sanders, who became only the fifth rookie in NFL history with 700 rushing yards, 500 receiving yards and a 4.5 rushing average. And he did it despite averaging only 10.6 touches in the Eagles' first eight games. After that? He averaged close to 100 scrimmage yards per game. Tough, fast, explosive, elusive. Big things ahead for this kid. Going to be fun to watch.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: It took Sanders a few games to get going but once he did, he improved throughout the rest of his rookie season. And when Jordan Howard went down, he proved to me that he can be a feature back in the NFL. Based on what I saw in 2019, I have no doubt that the Eagles nailed this pick. Sanders is a do-it-all back who can be a Pro Bowl player. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: The most impressive part about Sanders' rookie season is how much and how quickly he improved. Seven games into his career, he was averaging 3.3 yards per rushing attempt and there were people ready to write him off. Over the Eagles' last 10, he averaged 5.1 and looked like a legit RB1. 

Verdict: Stays

Jordan Howard

Roob: I really like Howard's game, but I just don't see where he fits in with Sanders and Boston Scott projecting to major roles. Howard has a different skill set, but even if his value on the free agency market is low because of his injury, do the Eagles still want to pay him a couple million bucks to be the third back? Does he even want to be here for whatever carries are leftover after Sanders and Scott get theirs? I don't see it.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: There was a period this past season where Howard was playing at a very high level. In fact, in his final two starts (and significant action) of the season, he carried the ball 42 times for 178 yards and two touchdowns. But he suffered a stinger that pretty much ended his season. He seems open to the idea of a return, but it would be as a complementary player to Sanders. That would work but I'd imagine it would be better for Howard to find a job where he can be the main back. If he can't, then sure, bring him back. I think he finds that gig elsewhere. 

Verdict: Goes 

Kulp: If the Eagles can keep Howard - meaning another team doesn't give him a crazy payday - they should. He's only 25, rushed for over 900 yards in each of his first three seasons with 24 touchdowns and was looking very much like the No. 1 back prior to the shoulder injury, averaging 4.4 yards per carry with six TDs. He doesn't need to be that here thanks to Sanders' ascension, but if Howard gets away, the Eagles will just need to replace him with another dependable ball carrier. So, ideally he'll be back, though he could easily find a better offer and situation elsewhere. 

Verdict: Stays

Darren Sproles 

Roob: This time Darren Sproles really is retiring, after playing just 15 games over the last three seasons. Incredible career: More than 8,000 scrimmage yards, seven punt return touchdowns, 2014 NFL punt return leader, three-time Pro Bowler (all in his 30s). An electrifying player for a long time. And every time Scott makes a big play next year we'll think of Sproles. 

Verdict: Goes

Dave: Sproles already announced his retirement so I'll just use this space to say how fun it was to watch him for the last several years of his career. Forget the fact that the Eagles held on too long and remember why they wanted to: No one worked harder than Sproles, no one was a better example for young players, no one was more respected. Even if he never makes it to the Hall of Fame, he goes down as an all-time great player who played more seasons with the Eagles than any other team and made his only three Pro Bowls as an Eagle. 

Verdict: Goes 

Kulp: Seeing as he's retiring, the decision would seem to be out of the Eagles' hands. But, no, this time the organization should not try to change his mind.

Verdict: Goes

Boston Scott 

Roob: An amazing find, Scott jumped off the practice squad and quickly piled up 449 scrimmage yards and five touchdowns in just 85 touches late in the season. Scott went from an emergency fill-in to a big piece of the future. He and Sanders give the Eagles two tough, powerful, fast and versatile backs and give Doug Pederson the chance to be a lot more creative as a play caller.

Verdict: Stays

Dave: I was admittedly skeptical when Scott initially found success in December but now I'm sold. He deserves a spot in the running back rotation in 2020 as a complementary piece next to Sanders. He's shifty, can catch and is a fun change-of-pace guy. He's earned the right to be back next season. 

Verdict: Stays 

Kulp: Scott filled Sproles' role in the Eagles' offense seamlessly, compiling 398 yards of total offense and four touchdowns over the final five games. There's definitely a place for him in the NFL, and he's under contract for next year, so that's one old-timer the front office doesn't need to worry about replacing. 

Verdict: Stays

Corey Clement 

Roob: It's been an unfortunate couple years of injuries for the former Super Bowl star, but I wouldn't write him off just yet. Clement is still only 25 and he's still a good, inexpensive option to be that third running back behind Sanders and Scott. If he can stay healthy, he'd be a perfect fit. 

Verdict: Stays

Dave: This is a tough one because Clement didn't have a role in 2019 and then landed on IR for the second straight season. This guy was a Super Bowl hero but can't seem to stay healthy. This time, he needed shoulder surgery, so at least he's another year removed from the knee injury. My head is telling me it's time for the Eagles to move on but I'm going with my gut here. I think Clement still has something left and has a chance to make the roster if Howard isn't back. 

Verdict: Stays

Kulp: That's back-to-back seasons Clement was unable to stay healthy after an impressive rookie year, which is something the Eagles definitely will look at. He's also a restricted free agent, so there's no risk in bringing him back. Granted, he'll be competing for a roster spot as the fourth running back, though even then, his special teams prowess gives him a shot. 

Verdict: Stays

Elijah Holyfield 

Roob: Holyfield, son of former world heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield, joined the Eagles just before the playoffs but didn't get on the field and has never actually played in an NFL game. He's got a limited skill set but he's a good tough inside runner and should get a long look in training camp. I can see him spending time on the practice squad next year and getting a shot at the 53 at some point, but I don't expect him to ever have a major role.

Verdict: Goes

Dave: There's a reason the Eagles brought in Holyfield late in the season and didn't play him. They wanted him for the future. So he'll be in training camp with a chance to make the roster and maybe he does. But I want to at least see him in a few practices first. For now, I think he ends up on the 2020 practice squad and not on the 53-man roster. 

Verdict: Goes 

Kulp: If Howard bolts, it could certainly give a powerful prospect like Holyfield more of an opportunity. Then again, the departure would likely prompt the Eagles to use a draft pick on a runner, too. Maybe he can crack the practice squad, but it's tough to project right now.

Verdict: Goes



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Eagles Stay or Go 2020: Figuring out Eagles running back rotation in 2020 originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

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