Darren Sproles garners positive reviews

March, 14, 2014
Mar 14
11:25
AM ET
The impact of the Darren Sproles trade will linger for a while, right up through the season when the Philadelphia Eagles can showcase yet another weapon in Chip Kelly's offense.

Sproles
Though Sproles is on the downside of his career, as any running back who turns 30 would be, that doesn't mean he's no longer dangerous. And that's why this move was largely applauded. The only thing that he can't do is improve a defense that struggled, though the Eagles have started to work on that side of the ball a little bit as well, with safety Malcolm Jenkins and corner Nolan Carroll having been signed.

Still, Sproles is the one worth taking more of a look at -- even a day later. Here's what others had to say about the move:
    • ESPN NFL writer Kevin Seifert wrote that Sproles and running back LeSean McCoy can be on the field at the same time: "Sproles proved especially productive in New Orleans when lined up somewhere other than the backfield. His 89 receptions in those situations since 2011 is twice that of the next-closest running back, Marcel Reece (44). Such familiarity with the slot and outside receiving positions give the Eagles a scary potential to use Sproles and McCoy on the field at the same time."
    • ESPN Saints reporter Mike Triplett said New Orleans letting him go makes sense. “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.”
    • Jeff McLane likes a lot of what Sproles offers, but does not think he plugs any holes for the Eagles. There's also concern because of his age, cap hit ($3.5 million) and having surrendered a draft pick in addition to a lot of cash. But he recognized that Sproles can help, as he wrote for the Philadelphia Inquirer: “Sproles isn't the player he was in 2011 when he had an NFL-record 2,696 all-purpose yards, but he is still one-on-one trouble for defenses. Kelly took full advantage of running back LeSean McCoy and wide receiver DeSean Jackson's quickness and lateral agility by designing one-on-one matchups."
    • Few spend more time breaking down X's and O's than Sheil Kapadia of Birds 24/7. His take? “The Eagles bid farewell to Jason Avant earlier this offseason. Look for Sproles to rotate in at multiple spots. Per PFF, he lined up in the backfield 60.9 percent of the time last season. On the other occasions, he was out wide or in the slot. Remember how Kelly used Jackson in the backfield last season to create mismatches? He can do the same with Sproles."
    • In USA Today, writer Lorenzo Reyes took a look at some reaction to the trade. "The big benefit that Sproles adds, however, is an option in the flat and in short-to-intermediate routes in the passing game for Foles. Last season, Sproles caught 71 passes for 604 yards and two touchdowns."
    • Finally, from New Orleans, Times-Picayune writer Larry Holder wrote that, “A pick and salary cap space helps the Saints, plus New Orleans won't face the Eagles in the 2014 regular season. The division-rival Carolina Panthers will, though. And a fresh start with a team on the rise like the Eagles, along with no cut in pay, is about the best Sproles could have asked for from the Saints. But it doesn't come without hurt feelings.”

John Keim

ESPN Washington Redskins reporter

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