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Eagles Bring Back Darren Sproles


He isn't a 2018 draft pick, but make sure to count Darren Sproles among the additions from draft weekend for the Eagles, who announced on Saturday that the dynamic running back/return man would be returning to Philadelphia this season.

And while it's very difficult at times to project draft picks into immediate roles, that's not the case with Sproles, who comes in as a dual-threat running back in the offense and one of the league's best punt returners. His 2017 campaign came to an end when he suffered a torn ACL and a broken arm in last season's Week 3 win over the New York Giants.

The Eagles chose five players in the 2018 draft, but bringing back Sproles fills a need. The team traded out of the first round of the draft, providing some salary-cap relief and helping the Eagles maneuver to bring him back.

That Sproles is returning isn't necessarily a huge surprise, given head coach Doug Pederson's open interest in the standout back/return man when he spoke at the NFL's Annual Meeting in Orlando last month.

"We've reached out to him during the free agency period and talked to him," Pederson said. "He's expressed that he wants to be back here. He knows we want him back here. Heck yeah. He's a big part of our team. (He's a) punt returner, he's a tremendous back, third-down guy. So, we'll see what falls out.

"He wants to still play, and I want him to play, and I want him to be an Eagle."

And now he is. Again.

One of the most prolific all-purpose players in the history of the NFL, Sproles has seven punt returns for touchdowns in his career, four of them coming as an Eagle. Sproles has accounted for 19,155 all-purpose yards in his career, eighth highest in NFL history, with 22 rushing touchdowns and 30 receiving touchdowns along with seven touchdowns on punt returns and two on kickoff returns in his illustrious career.

Sproles is another weapon in the offense as a change-of-pace running back and receiving threat. The Eagles can create favorable matchups by moving Sproles around the formation in the passing game. The "move" role should suite Sproles perfectly as he works in with Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement, and Wendell Smallwood in the backfield. Second-year man Donnel Pumphrey has his work cut out for him making this roster, and the competition should be outstanding in the summer.

Nothing is set in stone, of course. The Eagles want competition across the board, and bringing back Sproles during draft weekend adds to the roster improvement in this all-important period of time.

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