Philadelphia Eagles News

Is RB Parker An Option?

With the Eagles cutting ties with Brian Westbrook, the talk now is focused on who will the team bring in to complement second-year man LeSean McCoy.

McCoy, who rushed for 637 yards on 155 carries as an Eagles rookie in 2009, has been handed the keys to the backfield. But he can't do it alone. In an NFL littered with teams employing a two-back attack, the team figures to add a veteran in free agency. The team has done so in the past under Andy Reid, who has added veterans like Dorsey Levens and Brian Mitchell to his backfield in the past.

One intriguing possibility is Steelers running back Willie Parker, a former two-time Pro Bowl running back who is destined to become an unrestricted free agent. The 5-foot-10, 209-pound Parker played sparingly last season after losing his starting job to Rashard Mendenhall in Week 4.

Parker hasn't played a complete season since 2006, but he proved he still has plenty of football left in him in the 2009 season finale in Miami, rushing for 74 of his 91 yards on the final drive. The development of Mendenhall, who rushed for 1,108 yards on 242 carries in 2009 after an injury shortened rookie season, has made Parker expendable in Pittsburgh.

Parker turns 30 in November, and has 1,253 career carries, a 4.3-yard career average and 26 career 100-yard rushing performances on his resume. At his best, he is a breakaway threat with elite speed. He can also pass block. The one element that Parker's game lacks -- and it's an important quality for Eagles' backs -- is pass-catching. Parker was not asked to do much in Pittsburgh. In 79 career games, Parker caught 84 passes for 697 yards (8.3-yard average).

Of course, Parker is best known for his 75-yard touchdown run early in the second half of Super Bowl XL in Detroit, the longest touchdown run in Super Bowl history. Parker even led the National Football League in rushing with two games remaining in 2007 before breaking his leg in Week 15.

It sees unlikely the Eagles would rely on a draft pick to step in and serve as McCoy's primary backup. Currently behind McCoy on the depth chart are Eldra Buckley, a good special teams player who saw some time in goal line packages last season, as well as Canadian Football League prospect Martell Mallett. Of course, Pro Bowl fullback Leonard Weaver proved he could shoulder some touches. Dwayne Wright is a running back prospect with NFL experience who is converting to fullback.

-- Posted by Bob Kent, 4:00 p.m., February 25

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