Adding two running backs to the team through both the draft and post-draft free agency, the Philadelphia Eagles now look to have a backfield filled with talented players. The one issue in the backfield at this moment in time could be the future of Ryan Mathews. An extremely inconsistent player for the team last season, Ryan Mathews now looks to be on his way out of Philadelphia.
The move is likely to be the right one in terms of the team’s future. With the arrival of the All-Time rushing yard leader for the FBS in Donnel Pumphrey and a work horse power back in Corey Clement, Ryan Mathews is really not needed any more. Given his age and injury history, keeping him onboard may even be a liability for this team going forward.
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Looking at the rookies, Donnel Pumphrey and Corey Clement should be two players that can carry some of the workload this season. While Pumphrey will probably be used as a rotation option to keep Darren Sproles somewhat fresh in his final season, Clement can be used as the power back, similar to Mathews role with the team last season.
Another factor that favors the Eagles releasing Ryan Mathews is the depth at the running back position. While the unit as a whole is not that talented, they are all extremely solid players. Wendell Smallwood returns from last year and should once again be ready to take a role on passing downs. Also joining the Eagles backfield for at least the preseason is Byron Marshall and Terrell Watson.
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Given all of this, I still would not be shocked if the Philadelphia Eagles retained Ryan Mathews. Despite the fact that the team remains non-committal, Mathews is still the best true running back on this team. While he does have some injury concerns, Philly may still see value in retaining him.
While it is my opinion that the Eagles should release Ryan Mathews before the preseason begins, I would not be shocked if Mathews starts the 2017 season with the team. Either way, I am cautiously optimistic about the future of the backfield in Philadelphia.
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