The NFL‘s most efficient offense just became dangerous. After spending the first week of March locking up key contributors from last season to ensure offensive continuity in 2014, the Philadelphia Eagles were noticeably quiet during the first few days of free agency. That changed this morning. On the heels of losing out to the New England Patriots in the Darrelle Revis sweepstakes, general manager Howie Roseman executed a trade for New Orleans Saints scat back Darren Sproles that sent shockwaves through the league. In particular, the Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins and New York Giants fanbases undoubtedly felt blindsided by Roseman’s masterstroke, which essentially wrapped up the NFC East for the Eagles before the season even started.
To summarize the deal, Philadelphia traded a fifth-round draft pick to acquire one of the most dynamic “space players” in the NFL. The soon-to-be 31-year-old Sproles has made a living gashing opposing defenses on screen passes, dump offs, underneath routes and draw plays. Though he is on the wrong side of 30, he has logged less than 500 carries over eight seasons in the NFL and has plenty of tread left on the tires.
Sproles’ skill-set fits hand-in-glove with Chip Kelly’s offense that specializes in identifying mismatches and then deploying dynamic, versatile players in space to take full advantage of those mismatches. Sproles will often share the field with LeSean McCoy as he primarily takes over for Jason Avant in the slot, particularly on third down. Sproles will also provide a significant boost to Philadelphia’s return game, which ranked No. 26 in kickoff return average and No. 27 in punt return average in 2013.
After re-signing Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper, locking up key members of the offensive line and trading for Sproles, the Eagles have now assembled the most formidable offense in the NFL and will be a Super Bowl favorite.