Today is a sad day for Philadelphia Eagles fans as three-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl LII champion Darren Sproles has announced he will retire after this upcoming season. After being drafted in 2005 by the San Diego Chargers, the 5’6″ menace went on to play thirteen seasons in the NFL, six with the Chargers, three with the Saints, and four with the Eagles. As a running back/return specialist, Sproles has accrued 19,020 all-purpose yards, which ranks him 8th in NFL history in career all-purpose yards. Throughout the course of his career Sproles also set the single-season record for most all-purpose yards with 2,696 yards, and is also the first player in NFL history with more than 2,200 all-purpose yards in four different seasons. Sproles has been a force to be reckon with during his tenure with the Eagles, as he was a productive constant in our rapidly-changing offense over the past four seasons. Sproles’ retirement will certainly weaken the Eagles’ running back situation, but it will also give the younger guys a chance to grow and develop. Although Sproles is not retiring for another season, the Eagles have to prepare now for the departure of an integral piece of our offense.
Taking a look at the Eagles’ backfield, Jay Ajayi is still the clear number one option. Ajayi had a fairly productive season after making his way to Philadelphia halfway through last season, and I only expect him to improve as he is still only 25 years old. After our off-season loss of LeGarrette Blount, our second option is most likely going to be Corey Clement, who had a rookie fantastic season which included an unforgettable touchdown in Super Bowl LII. Looking further down the depth chart, we have ex-Colt Matt Jones, Donnel Pumphrey, Wendell Smallwood and Notre Dame’s Josh Adams rounding out the rest of our running back depth, along with Sproles. All five of these guys will most likely not make the final 53-man roster, so fans will have to keep a lookout for word from the team on who will and will not the final cut. Regardless of the final look of our running back situation, I think it is safe to say both Ajayi and Clement proved themselves last season and throughout the playoffs, so I am for one am not too worried about the future of the Eagles’ backfield.
Darren Sproles has left an everlasting mark on three separate franchises, connecting with fans, with his teammates, and playing hard every snap. With one more season separating him from retirement, I have no doubt that No. 43 will stop at nothing to take this team to another championship. As one of my personal favorite players back when he played for both San Diego and New Orleans, I can confidently say I will dearly miss who Underdawg Sports writer Dan McGuckin dubbed his “little king.”
Sean Zarzatian, Underdawg Sports Writer