One more time for Darren Sproles and the Eagles. The team announced on Friday afternoon that Sproles will return for his 15th NFL season as he adds more depth to the team’s running back room and brings some explosiveness to the return game.
A talented roster just became more versatile and deeper.
"My heart is in Philly. That's where I want to end my career," Sproles said. "That team, the city is like a family."
“We are excited to bring Darren back. It isn’t very often that you have the opportunity to add a player who has the sixth-most total yards in NFL history," the team said in a statement. "He is the ultimate professional, and a leader on and off the field. He will add another proven talent to our running back room. His dynamic punt return skills are second to none. We can’t wait to get started next week.”
One of the most prolific yards-gainers in the history of the NFL – he ranks sixth all time in total combined yards with 19,520 – Sproles spoke through the offseason of his interest in playing in 2019 and reiterated that sentiment on Friday.
"I really want to go out on top. That's what I really want to do," Sproles said. "I can't wait to get back with the guys."
He’s back to add to a running back room that is going to be exciting to watch in this Training Camp.
Last season, Sproles contributed 32 yards from scrimmage, including a critical catch-and-run to convert a late third down, in the team’s opening-night win over Atlanta and then missed 10 games with a hamstring injury. He returned to the field for the final five weeks of the regular season and showed he’s got plenty of gas in his tank. In those five games, during which the Eagles went 4-1, Sproles had 24 rushing attempts for 110 yards and added 11 receptions for 138 yards. In those five games, he averaged 7.1 yards per touch from the line of scrimmage and the Eagles' offense, which played inconsistently for most of the season to that point, averaged 27.4 points per game.
Now he’s back, looking for one final season of glory to end a career – maybe? – that could very well send him on his way to Canton, Ohio and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Helping the Eagles win the Super Bowl would be the ideal way to end a spectacular playing career.
The question now is how will the Eagles incorporate Sproles into the offense and on special teams? That latter seems easy enough, with Sproles instantly becoming the leading candidate to return punts this season. The Eagles have DeSean Jackson, yes, and we know how much of a game-breaking return man he is, but it may be best to save Jackson’s legs for running past defensive backs.
Sproles is a leader in the locker room, an example of professionalism for every player and as hungry for success as a man can be. He wants to finish on top after an uneven 2018 campaign. The Eagles are excited to get him into camp and see him in action.
As far as the picture in the running backs room, Sproles is joining a deep and talented position group, which is a good thing for a team that was ravaged by injuries at the position a year ago, but emerged stronger, deeper, and more experienced. Then the Eagles went out in the offseason and dramatically upgraded their rushers, trading for Jordan Howard in a deal with Chicago and then using the 53rd overall draft pick on Miles Sanders.
Keeping the door open and the lines of communication intact again served the Eagles well. They made no secret of their interest in bringing Sproles back to the team – head coach Doug Pederson and Howie Roseman said as much throughout the offseason – and they patiently waited to see where Sproles was at with his intentions. With Training Camp opening, the sides are in sync. It’s a terrific good-news jolt to open the 2019 Eagles Training Camp.
The ageless one, the Mighty Mite, the player who defies all logic for his greatness, is back with the Eagles and ready to help in the running game, as a receiver in space, and in the return part of special teams. Darren Sproles is a once-in-a-decade kind of player the Eagles are glad to have back in Midnight Green as the long march through the 2019 season begins in the heat of South Philadelphia.