Jerick McKinnon hasn’t played a single regular-season down for the San Francisco 49ers since joining the team, and there’s a reason to believe he may not. Although the 49ers just signed McKinnon to a four-year, $30 million deal last offseason, a torn ACL just prior to the year ended his season before it started. And now, their running back stable is far too overcrowded.
Along with McKinnon, the 49ers had Matt Breida still and opted to re-sign Raheem Mostert to a multi-year deal. But what stands out most is that they signed former Atlanta Falcons running back Tevin Coleman in free agency, a player who head coach Kyle Shanahan worked with previously.
So, what’s the next logical move for a crowded backfield and a high-paid player who may not be utilized as much as his contract likely calls for? Consider a trade, and this is where the Philadelphia Eagles come into play.
Philadelphia Eagles Trade for Jerick McKinnon Makes Sense
The Eagles are not currently planning to bring back Jay Ajayi, according to a source. In turn, this means the team needs to address the position somehow, and the potential to acquire McKinnon in a cost-effective trade makes a ton of sense. Although (another) running back coming off a knee injury seems less than ideal for the Eagles, the 49ers back offers upside and is a strong pass-catcher out of the backfield.
Beyond that, McKinnon’s contract isn’t bad or quite as big as it seems on the surface. The soon-to-be 27-year-old back comes with a cap hit of $5.75 million in 2019 and $8.8 million in 2020. His deal runs through 2021, but the final year is a team option which would carry a cap number of $9.2 million, per Spotrac.
There’s certainly some risk in this move, but based on the current outlook of the remaining free-agent running backs and Philly’s need at the position, the deal makes sense. Most importantly, due to the 49ers’ crowded backfield, the cost of a trade for McKinnon wouldn’t break the bank for the Eagles.
Eagles’ Alternate Free Agent Options at Running Back
After the first wave of free-agent deals wrapped up, the remaining group of players is hit-or-miss. An option like Isaiah Crowell, who was released after the New York Jets signed Le’Veon Bell, could be an interesting fit. While former Kansas City Chiefs running back Spencer Ware may worth watching, but seems unlikely.
Two names worth circling include T.J. Yeldon and Jeremy Hill, who suffered a torn ACL last season. Yeldon was in-and-out as the starter for the Jacksonville Jaguars depending on the health of Leonard Fournette, and he’d almost certainly be looking for the chance to earn a starting role. Yeldon totaled 414 rushing yards on 104 attempts and caught 55 passes for 487 yards, scoring five total touchdowns last season, so his ability as a dual-threat back has appeal.
Hill played in just one game for the New England Patriots before his injury, but this is a player who scored 29 rushing touchdowns over his first three NFL seasons. He’s only 26 years old currently and after logging 667 carries over that same three-year span, there’s no question that he can handle a big workload.