One of the quietest whispers in NFL circles was heard back in March, at the very beginning of free agency.
The Atlanta Falcons released Devonta Freeman on March 16 to little fanfare. The 28-year-old running back was a key contributor during the Falcons’ 2016 Super Bowl run but cutting him saved the money-strapped team $3.5 million in cap space. They went out and signed Todd Gurley in free agency to replace his production.
Of course, one team’s loss could be another team’s gain. Freeman made two Pro Bowls in Atlanta while rushing for 3,972 yards (4.2 yards per carry) in six seasons. He was a shifty home-run hitter in a very pass-dominated offense.
While the Eagles don’t have a pressing need at running back, Freeman would be a nice luxury item. He still ran for 656 yards in 14 games last season in what was considered a down year. Philadelphia lost Jordan Howard to Miami in the offseason and haven’t replaced the bruising back. The Eagles intend to make Miles Sanders the primary ball-carrier in 2020 but there are other snaps to go around. The team likes to mix it up in the backfield as evidenced by the emergence of Boston Scott in 2019.
Could they be interested in a 5-foot-8, 206-pound change-of-pace back? Freeman wouldn’t replace those in-between-the-tackle “tough yards” Howard got but he is explosive. Pairing him with Sanders and Scott could be an electrifying new triumvirate that the Eagles haven’t seen since the early 2000s with Duce Staley, Correll Buckhalter and Brian Westbrook.
Freeman Rumors to Philly Picking Up Steam?
There hasn’t been a sourced report or confirmed rumor linking the Eagles to Devonta Freeman. Not yet. However, the idea has been picking up steam on social media where the move has been thrown out as an unexpected jolt for the offense.
Freeman himself wanted to stay in Atlanta and posted a Falcons’ highlight reel on April 11. That ship has sailed and the running back has surprisingly had few suitors in free agency thanks to some injury concerns. Freeman did miss two games in 2019 with a foot injury and did undergo surgery in 2018 for a nagging groin injury that caused him to miss 14 games.
Still, Freeman possesses one valuable skill that NFL teams always value: versatility. He’s a dual-threat out of the backfield, with 3,972 rushing yards and 2,015 receiving yards in his six-year career. He has 43 combined touchdowns, including leading the league in rushing scores (11) in 2015.
Eagles Targeting ‘Big Back’ in NFL Draft
Devonta Freeman is not a “big back” so let’s just put that out there right away. He’s basically the same size as Boston Scott and his skillset matches what Miles Sanders can do, to a much lesser degree. Philadelphia reportedly wants to add a bigger back, someone who can handle goal-line situations.
According to The Athletic‘s Dane Brugler, the Eagles might be targeting a “big” running back in the draft. He pegged Boston College’s AJ Dillon to Philly in the fourth round at 127th overall. Dillon measures 6-foot and weighs 249 pounds and rushed for 4,382 yards in college, with 38 rushing touchdowns.
NBC Sports Philadelphia threw out a few other big-framed backs that could be on the board for the Eagles, including Memphis stars Patrick Taylor, Jr. and Antonio Gibson, along with TCU rusher Sewo Olonilua. The Eagles have also been linked to a shiftier type of back in free agency: LeSean McCoy. The franchise’s all-time leading rusher is still sitting out there and wants to return to Philly.
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