It’s a good thing the Eagles waited to cut receiver DeSean Jackson until after they traded for running back Darren Sproles and then signed Sproles to an extension. If Jackson had been gone before Sproles arrived, the price tag for either or both transactions may have been a little higher.
Now that Jackson is gone, Sproles will be counted upon to help replace some of the spark that Jackson brought to the offense and, possibly, to the special teams.
Coach Chip Kelly understandably downplayed the Sproles/Jackson swap last week at the league meetings, two days before Jackson was cut.
“Totally different positions,” Kelly said, via Ed Kracz of the Burlington County (N.J.) Times. “Darren is a running back, DeSean a wideout, so our whole thing, and I mentioned it when we got Darren, we’re excited about him, but we’ve got a long way to go before we play a game so let’s get him in here. Let’s go through phase one, OTA, minicamp, and all that, and find out what his strengths are and play to them, but I’m real excited with the addition and what he can give us.”
While Kelly surely has some ideas based on game film, he seems to want to wait until he has a chance to experiment first hand with the nine-year veteran.
“Until we get out on the field and run around, I know, obviously, he’s an outstanding returner, he’s an outstanding receiver coming out of the backfield, [but] what run plays does he run the best?” Kelly said. “Is he an inside zone guy? Is he an outside zone guy? Is power a better play for him?. Those are all things we’ll figure out when we get our hands on him.”
Traditionally, it’s been hard for opponents to get their hands on Sproles. When the Eagles got the chance to acquire him, the analysis was simple.
“The way we looked at it is, if Darren Sproles was available in the fifth round of the draft this year would you take him?” Kelly said. “And absolutely we would.”
Whether Sproles justifies that investment will go a long way toward justifying the move away from Jackson, who’ll visit Philly’s division rivals in Washington on Monday.