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When will Roseman start valuing running backs?

Eliot Shorr-Parks
March 15, 2019 - 9:21 am

Since returning to run the Eagles in 2016, there is a strong argument to be made that top personnel Howie Roseman has been one of the best in the league at his job. He has done an excellent job managing the cap, he has built a fairly deep roster and he has won a Super Bowl. Not bad. 

One issue that fans have consistently had with Roseman, however, is that his track record as the top decision makes it pretty clear he does not value the running back position. Although they did win the Super Bowl in 2017 with a running-back by comittee, the Eagles’ running game has been far from dominant despite having a strong offensive line. Take out 2017, and the Eagles were 30th in the league last season in yards-per-rushing attempt and 18th in 2016. 

Part of the reason is that since taking back control from Chip Kelly prior to the 2016 season, Roseman has invested almost no money or draft capital in the position. The result is the Eagles’ cupboard at running back is pretty bare entering the 2019 season. 

Roseman’s Eagles have consistently been near the bottom of the league at money they have allocated to the running back position:

2019: 27th ($3.06 million)

2018: 24th ($2.6 million)

2017: 26th ($3.21 million) 

2016: 9th ($5.17 million) (Darren Sproles, who Kelly acquired, accounted for $5.1 million)

By comparison, the Eagles have consistently been near the top of the league in spending at the quarterback position, the offensive line and the defensive line. 

Roseman also seems ready to invest heavily in the receiver position this season, as Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson and Nelson Agholor’s deal could have combined cap hits of roughly $35 million this upcoming season — almost 10-times that of the cap hits for running backs. 

Roseman’s decisions to pass on both Mark Ingram and Tevin Coleman this week, both of whom had an average salary of just $5 million, was even more proof that Roseman does not like to spend in the backfield. 

The idea that Roseman might address the position in the draft is also farfetched. 

Roseman has also never invested top draft capital in the running back position. If you take away the years where Kelly was involved in the drafts, which is only fair considering his strict demands for the kind of players he wanted and that he didn’t see eye-to-eye with Roseman, the Eagles haven’t used a first-or-second round pick on a running back since 2009. 

2018: (None)

2017: (4th, 132nd overall, Donnel Pumphrey)

2016: (5th, 153rd overall, Wendell Smallwood)

(The Kelly Years) 

2012: None

2011: (5th, 149th overall, Dion Lewis)

2010: (6th, 200th overall, Charles Scott)

Roseman will have a chance to change this trend in 2019, as he has three picks in the first two rounds, and there should be plenty of running backs available to him in the first two rounds that would help this offense. 

Whether Roseman should start investing in the running back position is debatable. Just ask the Giants what prioritizing the running back position can lead to. 

Still, as Roseman builds a roster that is clearly ready to win now, and starting to become pretty loaded on offense, the glaring hole at running back is pretty clear. 

The question is after years of neglecting the position, will Roseman’s philosophy finally change, or will he start to invest top assets in running backs. 

You can reach Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at esp@94wip.com!

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