Sproles trade: Better than nothing

March, 13, 2014
3/13/14
10:45
AM ET
I'm still not in love with the New Orleans Saints' decision to part ways with running back Darren Sproles. And if they're hoping to avoid regret, then the Philadelphia Eagles probably weren't the ideal trade partners.

Not only are the Eagles among the Saints' chief rivals for NFC supremacy, but Philly coach Chip Kelly's dynamic offense will probably be a great fit for Sproles, who can thrive in a limited role there as LeSean McCoy's sidekick.

However, at least the Eagles aren't in the NFC South, and at least the Saints made them give up something in return (a fifth-round pick). If the Saints had released Sproles, they would have had no say in where he wound up and gotten nothing in return (see: Darrelle Revis, DeMarcus Ware and several other recent examples).

Since the Saints had already made it clear last week that they were intending to let Sproles go, it's something of a boon for them to land a fifth-round pick. That's not exactly a "throwaway" pick. And perhaps the Saints can use it as ammo to trade up -- like what they did with the fourth-round pick they got for running back Chris Ivory last year.

Just as importantly, the Saints cleared out $3.5 million in salary-cap space this year by letting Sproles go (he'll count just $750,000 in "dead money" against their cap). And they're obviously following an out-with-the-old, in-with-the-new playbook this offseason, having released several veterans while investing heavily in new safety Jairus Byrd.

Letting Sproles go does make some sense for a number of reasons I've outlined previously. The Saints are still well-stocked at the running back position with Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson. And Sproles is 30 years old and has shown signs of declining production in recent years.

I still believe Sproles can be a dangerous weapon in a limited role. And I'm sure he will be in Philly.

But he probably wouldn't have come close to replicating his remarkable 2011 season in either city -- which is the biggest shame of all.

Mike Triplett

ESPN New Orleans Saints reporter

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