Darren Sproles says he’s leaning towards returning in 2018

By Tim Kelly, Sports Talk Philly editor

Perhaps the most special part about this Philadelphia Eagles season is the amount of injuries that the team has overcome to reach Super Bowl LII. For those still standing, it's something to rally around, as the team has overcome losing MVP candidate Carson Wentz and nine-time Pro Bowler Jason Peters, among others. Of course, those that were the casualties have been left to watch their team make a run to the Super Bowl. 

One of the losses that the team sustained was RB/PR Darren Sproles, who had made the Pro Bowl in each of his first three seasons with the Eagles. At Super Bowl Opening Night, Sproles told NFL Media's Ian Rapoport that he is likely to return in 2018: 

Sproles, 34, had initially planned to retire after the 2017 season. However, Sproles torn his ACL and broke his arm on the same play in the team's Week 3 victory over the New York Giants. Since then, he's laid relatively low, but a September tweet from Sproles suggested that the injury changed his retirement plans. It wouldn't be that different from when Steve Smith Sr. played an extra year after tearing his Achilles during the 2015 season, which was scheduled to be his final.  

Whether Sproles returns to the Eagles, should he choose to play in 2018, is another story. Sproles will be a free-agent this offseason. It's unclear what LeGarrette Blount's future is beyond this season, but both Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement figure into the team's plans in 2018. Wendell Smallwood, who is only a couple years removed from being a fifth round pick, is still under the organization's control. Donnel Pumphrey, who the Eagles spent a fourth round pick on in the 2017 NFL Draft, may still be in the picture moving forward. And those are just those currently in the organization. 

Of course, there's no way to replace Sproles as a punt returner – he's one of the absolute best to ever do it. But Kenjon Barner, who has quietly averaged over four yards per carry as a running-back in his career, has done a pretty impressive job of stepping up in Sproles' absence. He's also done it as a significantly cheaper price. 

It's not impossible that the Eagles re-sign Sproles, but it seems more likely that they allocate the $4 million that he made elsewhere. It could go towards retaining Jason Peters, who has an $11.67 million cap number in 2018. Peters or Vinny Curry, who has a cap number of $11 million in 2018, could restructure their contracts, but neither will be cheap to retain in any event. Nigel Bradham will be a free-agent. You get the point. 

If Sproles does indeed choose to play in 2018, he'll have no problem finding a team to play for. It may involve relocating, however.