Former Lions RB Interesting Fit for Eagles in Free Agency

Theo Riddick

Getty Theo Riddick

If the Eagles want a cheaper option at running back, then there is one under-the-radar name to watch. He’s a six-year NFL veteran with virtually no tread on his tires.

Theo Riddick grew up in Somerville, NJ which is about 1 hour, 15 minutes from downtown Philadelphia. The 29-year-old was Detroit’s sixth-round pick in 2013, a guy drafted by then-Lions head coach Jim Schwartz. Riddick was released by the Lions last July during training camp and then signed with the Broncos before a shoulder injury shelved him for the year. He has 1,023 career rushing yards on 288 carries (3.6 yards per touch) and five touchdowns on the ground.

Not impressive numbers, by any measure. But Riddick was a revelation out of the backfield in Detroit where he caught 285 balls for 2,238 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns in six seasons. More importantly, the Notre Dame product has some loose connections to the Eagles’ coaching staff. Schwartz, of course, is the defensive coordinator in Philly and Rich Scangarello — the Eagles’ new senior offensive assistant — was the offensive coordinator in Denver last year.

One other interesting note on Riddick: he was a slot receiver and running back in college. He also returned kicks as a freshman in South Bend. His versatility adds even more appeal.

“I think it definitely gave me the ability to read a defense a lot quicker, catch the ball out of the backfield, feel comfortable doing it,” Riddick said of playing in the slot, via Pride of Detroit. “Anyone can do it in practice, but when you’re in a game and you’ve got a feel for things, it actually just slowed the game down so much more for me. Which has helped me out tremendously.”

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Broncos Cut Riddick, Placed RB on Injured Reserve

Riddick was placed on injured reserve last year on Sept. 2 after suffering a slight shoulder fracture in the preseason. Denver formally parted ways with the running back on March 2 and he never saw a snap for the Broncos. It was unfortunate but he appears to be fully recovered.

Better yet, Riddick’s price tag has to be enticing for the Eagles as his one-year, $2.5 million contract is off the books. Philadelphia could offer him the veteran minimum — GM Howie Roseman has remained adamant about not wanting to spend more than that on a back — and bring him into training camp for added depth behind Miles Sanders.

At 5-foot-9 and 201 pounds, Riddick isn’t the ground-and-pound rusher the Eagles are necessarily looking for. Neither are LeSean McCoy or Devonta Freeman, though. Both guys have reportedly drawn interest from Philly in free agency. If nothing else, Riddick would be a good camp body who would push the younger guys on the roster (see: Boston Scott, Corey Clement, Elijah Holyfield, Michael Warren, Adrian Killins) for reps. The competition could make everyone better.

Head coach Doug Pederson prefers a backfield-by-committee approach so adding talent never hurts. In fact, Roseman expressed a need to add to the position back in March after the team lost bruiser Jordan Howard in free agency.

“It’s a loss to our football team,” Roseman said at the time. “At the same time, we need to continue to add to that position.”

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