The Eagles are facing a D’Andre Swift conundrum going into the 2024 offseason

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Eagles vs buccaneers
Philadelphia Eagles running back D’Andre Swift (0) runs with the ball as Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Trent McDuffie (22) defends during the first half of an NFL football game, Monday, Nov. 20, 2023, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

The start of free agency is on the horizon and the Philadelphia Eagles have some tricky decisions to make. Perhaps the most difficult of all will be coming to a conclusion on the future of D’Andre Swift, who razzled and dazzled his way to his first ever Pro Bowl nomination in 2023.

Historically, the Eagles don’t pay running backs. Ever since the DeMarco Murray implosion of 2015, Howie Roseman has veered away from pinning his hopes on one man, instead opting for committee efforts. It’s hard to really go against that logic, either.

Eagles rushing ranks during the regular season

2023: 9th
2022: 3rd
2021: 15th
2020: 24th
2019: 14th
2018: 14th
2017: 7th
2016: 22nd

The Eagles have a specific formula for building their backfield

With 3 top-10 rushing offenses to their name, the Eagles have essentially moneyballed their way to success, with an average rushing rank of 13th in that span despite never really paying anyone.

Take 2023 for example. The Eagles decided to let Miles Sanders walk into free agency and secure the bag in Carolina. For the price of what Sanders was being paid in 2023, the Eagles constructed a three-headed monster that hung with the best backfields in the league. D’Andre Swift’s addition was a key cog in that process.

D’Andre Swift’s breakout

Swift, along with a 7th round pick, was traded to the Eagles during the heart of the 2023 NFL Draft in exchange for a 2025 fourth-round pick and pick No. 219 in last year’s draft. What did the Eagles get in return?

1,049 rushing yards, 214 receiving yards, and 6 total touchdowns in what was a career year for the former Detroit Lion. What’s even more impressive is the way the season panned out.

Eagles jers vs chargers
Philadelphia Eagles’ D’Andre Swift (0), bottom, fumbles the ball during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Sunday, Oct. 15, 2023, in East Rutherford, N.J. The New York Jets recovered the fumble. (AP Photo/Noah K. Murray)

He was initially brought in and expected to be a change of pace back behind Kenny Gainwell, the only real long-term option on the roster. He burst out of the gates in week 2 for 175 yards and followed it up with a 130-yard romp one game later. That was enough for Nick Sirianni to give him the keys to the backfield, and Swift never really looked back.

It wasn’t just the stats, but the way Swift put them up. His rushing style was genuinely beautiful to watch. After years of watching Miles Sanders fly into linemen or violently bounce most rushes outside, it was a pleasure to watch a back who processed the game much faster. The game looked slower to Swift, who rarely put a foot wrong in 2023 and would consistently be able to turn a 3-yard carry into a 6-7 yard gain thanks to his impressive agility and stunning instincts.

Should the Eagles bring him back in 2024?

There is no questioning that the Georgia product was one of the biggest offensive standouts in an otherwise troubled 2023 campaign, but can the Eagles afford to keep him around?

According to Spotrac, his projected AAV sits at around $6.7M. Ironically, this puts him just ahead of Miles Sanders, whose Carolina deal now sees him earn $6.3M AAV.

The Eagles currently have around $19M in cap space and are expected to free up some additional funds soon. They should really be able to comfortably meet this number, but it would be the most that Howie Roseman had paid a running back anything remotely substantial in nearly a decade.

Philadelphia Eagles running back D’Andre Swift scores against the New York Giants during the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Dec. 25, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Can they AFFORD to let him go?

It’s one thing being able to afford Swift, but can they afford to let him walk? As things stand, the Eagles only have one back currently not set to hit the open market – Kenny Gainwell. We can assume that Boston Scott will be brought back with the sole purpose of ruining two Sunday’s a year for Giants fans, but the Eagles will be forced to rebuild their backfield again. While it’s viable that they do so, can they really bank on finding a rusher the level of Swift for as cheap as they did?

The answer is, we really don’t know. They were able to find some similar levels of efficiency out of Jordan Howard, but he simply wasn’t the same after another injury. Durability has been the Achilles Heel in Swift’s career up to this point and although he was excellent in 2023, it’s something the Eagles are bound to be hyper-aware of.

It’s hard to really say what Howie Roseman’s thinking. If Swift would be willing to take a discount in order to stay in Philadelphia, the move is a no-brainier. It keeps the pressure off Gainwell’s shoulders for another year and gives the team a firm foundation to build on. But I don’t think anybody would blame Swift for wanting to secure a payday, especially after finally breaking free of the ‘injury-plagued’ tag often tied to his name.

In an ideal world, D’Andre Swift would re-sign with the Eagles for a 3-year deal laden with incentives at an AAV of around $5M per year, but things are rarely that straight-forward.

Howie Roseman has a tough decision to make but hopefully he’s able to recognize that while his formula for building strong backfields on a budget is effective, there is an exception to every rule.

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) hands off to Eagles running back D’Andre Swift (0) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

AP Photo/Ed Zurga