• Gianfranco Illiano

Three Running Backs the Eagles Should Target at the Trade Deadline

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It's that time of year -- the smell of pumpkin-spiced coffee is in the air and the NFL trade deadline is upon us.


As pathetic as it may sound, the Eagles stand at 2-4-1 and in first place in the division. A report from Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports indicates that the Eagles are "expected to be aggressive at the trade deadline."

One of the many needs the Eagles should address is the backup running back spot, specifically a big-bodied back who can move the chains in short-yardage situations.


Current backups Boston Scott and Corey Clement have been disappointing thus far, despite a few good plays coming from Scott last game against the Giants.


There are three running backs standouts I see as potential trade targets:


1. Jordan Howard - 6'0, 235 LBS - Miami Dolphins

Eagles fans will recognize his name and for good reason. Howard was very effective for the Eagles in 2019 -- he gained 594 total yards from scrimmage and picked up 31 first downs.


Howard resides in Miami now, enjoying the sunshine on the bench. He's been productive in goalline situations with three touchdowns for the Dolphins, but has only gotten 19 total touches and 11 total yards from scrimmage in seven games.


Howard, 26, is owed $2.9 million the rest of the year with an out-year in 2021 with no cap hit. 


The Dolphins won't be looking for a lot in return for Howard. At the most, the Eagles can give up a 6th-round conditional pick.


2. Kerryon Johnson - 5'11, 211 LBS - Detroit Lions

Johnson has been a huge disappointment for the Lions. A 2nd-round pick in 2018, Johnson's career has been rattled with injuries and inconsistent play. The emergence of rookie running back D'Andre Swift has made Johnson obsolete in Detroit's offense.


So far in 2020, Johnson has 28 touches, 108 total yards from scrimmage, and one touchdown. He was on the field for 14 of 62 offensive snaps in Sunday's 23-22 win against the Falcons, with zero touches.


Johnson, 23, is still playing on his rookie deal, which is very team-friendly.


It's fair to say the Lions have no long-term plans for Johnson. A conditional 7th-round pick should be enough to bring him to Philadelphia.

3. Royce Freeman - 6'0, 238 LBS - Denver Broncos

For God's sake, he runs like a Rolls Royce (pun intended), what more could you want?


In all seriousness, Freeman has also been a big disappointment for his team, who drafted him in the third round in 2018. However, he's still young, and some would say he hasn't been given a fair opportunity in Denver.


Freeman, 24, has a jacked physique and looks the part walking off the bus with a 230-plus-pound frame. He's exactly what teams look for in a powerful, short-yardage running back. Coming out of Oregon, scouts and draft experts compared Freeman to Jordan Howard.


So far in 2020, Freeman has logged 27 touches, 126 total yards from scrimmage, and zero touchdowns.


Howie Roseman would be smart to give John Elway a call to see what it would take to unload Freeman, who has been sitting on the bench behind Melvin Gordon and Philip Lindsay.


A deal for Freeman should get done for no more than a conditional 6th-round pick.


BOTTOM LINE


Through seven weeks, the Eagles rank 28th in the league in rushing attempts per game, which means Doug Pederson isn't confident in the running group behind Miles Sanders.


Carson Wentz is at his best when the running game can be relied on. A strong running attack opens up the field and allows for play-action to work consistently, not to mention it also takes the pressure off of the quarterback. Just look at the Los Angeles Rams' offense.


Yes, the running game for the Eagles has struggled due to the numerous injuries on the Eagles offensive line, but that shouldn't be the reason why Philadelphia doesn't go after one of the three guys mentioned above.


The Eagles can acquire all three running backs for a cheap price, no more than a day three draft pick. It's a no-brainer.

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