Running back is far from the biggest need facing the Eagles this offseason, but Howie Roseman will still more than likely look to add at least one running back. With Jordan Howard expected to hit free agency, the team will have at least one vacancy to fill in their RB room.
Without Howard, the Eagles still have a solid stable of backs. Miles Sanders is the home run hitter, Kenny Gainwell is the third down back, and Boston Scott provides a little bit of everything. Howard brought the short yardage, bruiser archetype to the Eagles backfield in 2021, and it paid off in a big way in the latter half of the year.
If Jalen Hurts remains the Eagles quarterback this upcoming season — which is the most likely scenario — it would behoove Nick Sirianni and Co. to fully embrace the run-first attitude they adopted in the second half of last season.
Here are some running backs to keep an eye on once the free agency period rolls around.
Soney Michel, Los Angeles Rams
After Darrell Henderson went down with injury, Soney Michel became the bellcow for the Rams rushing attack. From Week 13 on, Michel averaged 90 rushing yards per game with a 4.2 YPC average, while finding the end zone three times.
He’s proven to be a steady back throughout his career, he just doesn’t do the flashy stuff that’ll land a big contract. But he’ll always continue to be a key cog in any running back rotation he’s placed in because of that steadiness. Michel is a north-south runner who should be able to fill Howard’s shoes with ease.
The Rams probably won’t bring him back, despite playing a role in their playoff run. With Cam Akers now fully healthy, Michel has been more of an afterthought in the Rams offense. The team will probably ride with Akers and Henderson heading into next season.
Pro Football Focus projects Michel’s contract to be worth two-years at $4.25 million per year. That’s certainly doable for the Eagles, who are going to have upwards of $30 million in cap space this offseason.
Marlon Mack, Indianapolis Colts
The Eagles didn’t really dip into any of Nick Sirianni’s former players in Indianapolis last offseason, partially because the team didn’t have much cap space to work with. Colts running back Marlon Mack is set to hit free agency this offseason and would be a nice cheap option to bolster the running back room.
Mack is still just 25 years old with very little tread on the tires. He only totaled 30 touches last season, due in large part to the emergence of Jonathan Taylor as a bonified workhorse back, but Mack’s lingering issues with his torn Achilles also played a role. He tore his Achilles in Week 1 of the 2020 season and only appeared in six games this past year.
Nevertheless, Mack has proven to be a productive back when healthy. In 2019, Mack surpassed 1,000 yards on the ground, averaging 4.4 yards per carry and finding the end zone eight times. He’s not really a power back, but he still has great size for an RB (6-foot, 210 pounds) and can be a nice change of pace to Sanders.
D’Onta Foreman, Tennessee Titans
If the Eagles want to replace Howard with a similar skill set but has a higher ceiling, look no further than D’Onta Foreman. Foreman was mostly an afterthought for the Titans through the first half of the season, but once Derrick Henry went down, Foreman took off.
On the year, Foreman totaled 566 yards on 133 carries (4.3 YPC) and scored three touchdowns. Even when Henry came back for the playoff game against Cincinnati, Foreman still managed to leave his mark on the game, carrying the ball four times for 66 yards, including a 45-yard scamper.
Like Mack, Foreman still has a lot of mileage left. 2021 was the only season in his five-year career that he saw over 100 touches. At just 25 years old, Foreman still has a lot of football left in him and could prove to be a significant upgrade over Howard if the Eagles decide to pursue him.