Six potential running backs who could replace Jordan Howard in Eagles backfield

Day 2 of legal tampering was a pretty big one for the Philadelphia Eagles. We saw Malcolm Jenkins leave, Jalen Mills and Rodney McLeod return and then we saw the departure of Jordan Howard to the Miami Dolphins.
The question to ask now, is who do the Eagles bring in to replace the hole left behind by Howard? Do they sign a free agent who can add experience to a running back room of the youthful Boston Scott and Miles Sanders, or do they just simply draft another running back prospect? Here are my suggestions on who Philly could target this offseason.

Devonta Freeman

Devonta Freeman was recently released by the Falcons and could prove himself as a great replacement for Jordan Howard. Freeman is coming off a 14-game season where he managed 656 yards on 184 rushing attempts, for an average of 3.6 yards per attempt.

Freeman is a brilliant option for the Eagles if they are looking for another back who is very comfortable at catching the ball. He had 59 catches off 70 targets for 410 yards and 4 touchdowns. Everyone knows how Sanders impressed with his catching ability, so having Freeman coming out of the backfield with good hands has to interest the Eagles.

The 28-year old also has playoff experience, appearing in both the 2016 and 2017 postseason for the Falcons. In those games, he had a total of 235 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns, alongside 16 catches off 19 targets for 197 yards and 2 touchdowns.

The Eagles should absolutely have their eyes keyed in on the two-time pro bowler.

Lamar Miller

Lamar Miller is currently a free agent after the Houston Texans failed to offer him a new contract this offseason. He enters the pool coming off a season-ending ACL injury that he suffered back in pre-season, so it is a risk taking him, considering the effect an ACL injury can have on a running back. However, Miller has some impressive stats to his name.

Since 2013, his lowest total rushing yards across a season is 709. The University of Miami product also has a pair of 1000+ rushing yard seasons along with a flurry of other strong outings,

With the ACL injury denying him the chance to play in 2019, we’ll have to go back and view his 2018 stats which were 973 rushing yards off 210 attempts with 5 touchdowns. He also had 25 catches off 35 targets for 163 yards and 1 touchdown. Across his career, he is averaging 4.3 yards per attempt and 55.8 yards per game, something that’s quite impressive.

A small prove it deal wouldn’t harm the Eagles, it’s a low risk, high reward sort of deal, in my opinion, the only real question is if he can reproduce the stats after this ACL injury.

Carlos Hyde

Another former Texans running back, Carlos Hyde has bounced around the past two years after leaving the 49ers in 2017. He is coming off a 1000+ yard season with the Texans, and, interestingly, they haven’t resigned him despite that.

Hyde has only had one 1,000+ yard seasons but he was seriously close to two more back in his Niners days and he proved last season that if you put your faith in him, he’ll produce the yardage needed.

In 2019, the veteran had a total of 1,070 rushing yards off 245 attempts with 6 touchdowns to his name. Unlike the other two I have previously mentioned, Hyde isn’t a productive back with his hands. He only had 10 catches off 16 targets in 2019 resulting in just 42 yards. But Hyde would present a true bowling ball back to replace the skillset left behind by Jordan Howard.

LeSean McCoy

It wouldn’t be a ‘running back options for the Eagles’ piece without mentioning Shady, would it?

He would bring a lot of experience to a running back room that lacks it and of course, knows what it’s like to play in Philly, how the team works, and if we’re all honest, who wouldn’t want to watch DJax and Shady ball out one more time in Eagles green?

In terms of stats, where do I begin? LeSean has 6 1,000+ rushing yard seasons in his career, multiple pro bowls and a couple of First-Team All-Pro’s to his name and even got a ring last season with the Chiefs.

The past couple of years have been tough for McCoy. He’s not been a major factor for the teams he’s played for as he only had 101 attempts for 465 yards and 4 touchdowns last season for the Chiefs, accepting a more rotational role.

It just so happens that a rotational role is exactly what the Eagles need.

Draft Options

Of course, Howie and the crew may have a completely different approach to the running back issues and draft another prospect, hoping to hit as they did with Sanders. I think it’s pretty obvious that it wouldn’t be smart for Philly to take a running back in the first few rounds, especially with the other needs the team has, but a running back in the 4th or lower wouldn’t be a bad idea.

One guy I really like is AJ Dillon from Boston, the 6-foot, 250-pound running back is exactly the type of rusher that the Eagles have been missing since LeGarrette Blount in that Superbowl winning season. Dillon is a fantastic power back who never gives up on his runs and truly powers through the line to grind out yards for his team. He may not be a flashy, pretty runner that fans love, but damn, he is effective at what he does.

Another option for the Eagles is Sewo Olonilua out of TCU. This man is an absolute athletic freak and would be a fantastic pickup for the Eagles in the latter rounds of the draft. Standing at 6’3, 232 lbs, you’d think he is a power back just like Dillon, however, you would be wrong. It’s scary how speed he possesses. He recently ran a 4.66 40-yard dash. If he could trim down a little to improve his initial burst, he could be an unstoppable force in the NFL.

Losing Howard was always a possibility for the Eagles, especially given the history Philly has with not paying running backs. When you factor in that the deal he had with the Eagles was basically a prove-it deal, it made sense that Howie didn’t extend his stay, he had injury issues during the season and Miles Sanders proved to the organization that they picked the right RB prospect in last year’s draft.

However, the Eagles have a lot of options to replace Howard. Freeman would be my first choice out of the free agents but Hyde and Miller offer interesting options and LeSean is somewhat of just a dream from a Philly fan! There are also options for the Eagles in the draft this year and they don’t require the Eagles to draft someone in the earlier rounds. It’s not all doom and gloom just yet, after all, it’s only day 3 of legal tampering!

Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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