If the Eagles want to bolster the depth at the running back position with a veteran, the soon-to-be unrestricted free agent class may have just improved a little on Friday.
Yes, free agency is not scheduled to begin for another week, but ESPN's Adam Schefter reports from the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis that the San Diego Chargers will not place a restricted free agent tender on running back Darren Sproles and will allow him to become an unrestricted free agent on March 5.
Why would the Chargers not even offer a tender to the change-of-pace back? While the value of a restricted free agent tender is set, if it is less than the player's 2009 salary then the player gets a 10 percent raise of last year's earnings. That's the case with Sproles. How much did he make last year? He earned $6.621 million playing under the franchise tag. That means a restricted free agent tender would cost the Chargers almost $7.3 million in 2010.
The Chargers simply aren't going to pay that amount for someone who averaged 3.7 yards per carry (343 total rushing yards) last year. Sproles did catch 45 passes for 497 yards and averaged 24.1 yards per kickoff return.
The 5-6, 185-pound Sproles is one of those players who last year was an unrestricted free agent, but would only be a restricted free agent despite having five years of service in the NFL unless there's an extension to the Collective Bargaining Agreement by next Friday. However, if a restricted free agent is not tendered then he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
The Eagles have eight players who will become restricted free agents next Friday absent a CBA extension: wide receiver Jason Avant, guard/center Nick Cole, linebacker Omar Gaither, linebacker Chris Gocong, cornerback Ellis Hobbs, guard Max Jean-Gilles, tight end Alex Smith and fullback Leonard Weaver. Linebacker Akeem Jordan and punter Sav Rocca are scheduled to become restricted free agents regardless of the CBA.
Restricted free agents have to be tendered by March 4.
-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 4:29 p.m., February 26