The Philadelphia Eagles have 20 free agents heading into the NFL offseason according to contract supersite Sportrac.
Of the pending free agents, 13 of 20 were key contributors to the Eagles run towards another Lombardi Trophy.
The staff from Sports Talk Philly –editors Paul Bowman and Michael Lipinski and Eagles writers Jennifer McGraw and Maranda Jo Shinn– have decided to play a game of “stay or go” with Jeffery Lurie’s money!
The crew deliberates on running back Miles Sanders.
Name: Miles Sanders
Acquired: 53rd overall pick (Rd 2) 2019 NFL Draft
Achievements: 2019 PFWA All-Rookie Team, 2022 Pro Bowl Selection
2022 Regular Season Stats: 17G/15GS, 259 Att, 1269 yds, 4.6 Avg, 11 TD, 20 Rec, 78 Yds, 0 TD
Market Value: $7.2MM/year
Potential Contract: 2-years/$14.4MM
Comparable players based on Sportrac’s formula for age, contract status, and statistical production.
Paul Bowman, STP Editor: This is a decision I really don’t feel comfortable answering definitively one way or another without more information. Perhaps the most important one would be how the Eagles would intend to replace Sanders. If letting him walk would mean the Eagles investing a first or even second-round pick on a running back, I’d prefer to see Sanders back and use the valuable draft capital on areas like corner, OL, DL or even receiver.
The other question would be the cost. I think Sanders is a very smart guy and he was one of the players that indicated a strong interest in making a return. As a wise player, Sanders has almost certainly already realized that he will not put up the numbers that he did this season behind another offensive line – that’d be true of any running back. On the flip side, Sanders’ speed parlayed well to things like wheel routes in college and the Eagles have never really attempted to use him in that manner – perhaps another team will. That could lead Sanders to go one of two ways – take a deal with a lower cap hit to stay with that offense and offensive line and look to make that money up on endorsements and the like or capitalize on his best season to take a huge deal elsewhere where there’s a chance he isn’t as successful as a runner.
While I’m open to a return, running back is not a position that the Eagles have or should start investing heavily in. As long as they maintain their offensive line, they should be able to have success with someone at the position. Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott are both effective, there are solid backs available in free agency that get overlooked each season and there are late picks and UDFA that emerge at the position each year. At a $7 million/year market value, it’d take Sanders passing up that money to take something more in like with Gus Edwards’ $4.5 million/year in order for the value to make sense for the Eagles.
Michael Lipinski, STP Editor: It wasn’t all that long ago I was openly advocating for the Eagles to re-sign Miles Sanders. Yeah, about that. I just don’t foresee the Eagles giving a big time contract to Sanders especially after ball control issues popped up again during Super Bowl LVII. He fumbled the first play of the game out of bounds for a loss and the overturned fumble on the swing pass was a lot closer than many realize.
Sanders was a non-factor in The Big Game, rushing 7-times for 16-yards or 2.3 yards-per-carry. Maybe he was hurt, no one knows because he didn’t stick around to speak with the media. Whatever the reason, the Eagles looked slow and disjointed when Sanders carried the ball against the Chiefs. He looked indecisive and switched back to the running style that dogged him for the first three-years of his career. Gone were the hard hitting, inside runs that made him a 1,200-yard rusher this season and back was the guy who bounced it to the outside all too often.
The facts are running backs are now a dime-a-dozen and smart teams draft their running backs in the draft. So, unless Sanders is willing to sign for Gus Edwards money — that’s not likely to happen– then it’s time for the Eagles to move on and draft the next Isiah Pacheco.
Jenn McGraw, Eagles Writer: I love Miles Sanders and I’m thankful for the contributions he brought to the Eagles, really, through his career. I’m really rooting for him to have a great career, however, I think his time in Philly is over. I don’t see paying him when we have more issues we need to address. Sanders has been underwhelming at times this season and I think it’ll be worth it to let him go where he can get paid and we look for a running back in a cheaper way.
Verdict: Sadly, go.
Maranda Jo Shinn, Eagles Writer: Despite following arguably the best season of his career, I’m not sure if Miles Sanders deserves a longer run in Philadelphia. He has openly said he wants to stay, but the main question is: has he earned it? With a stacked group of free agent running backs competing for contracts this season, the Eagles can likely see similar production from another man in his place for much, much cheaper. Rest assured he did make up for his 2021 season in a critical way this year with amazing numbers, but I’m just not sure it’s worth the dime he wants to stay.
While there is an agreement amongst the staff that it’d be ideal to have Sanders back, there is concern over the cost of doing so and more important positions that the Eagles will need to allocate that money to that’d make a Sanders return unlikely.