The Eagles have found their bruising running back.
The team on Wednesday morning agreed to a one-year deal with 6-foot, 250-pound LeGarrette Blount.
Blount, 30, became a free agent after the 2016 season with the Patriots. In 2016, he rushed for 1,168 yards and 18 touchdowns. Those 18 rushing touchdowns were a franchise record for the Patriots. It was also the highest number for any back since Adrian Peterson in 2009.
To put those 18 rushing touchdowns into perspective, the entire Eagles roster had just 16 rushing touchdowns in 2016.
Last season, the Eagles ran the ball 26 times on 3rd or 4th down with one or two yards to go and converted a first down just 16 times (61.5 percent); just eight teams were worse. Blount should help them in those situations. He was 13 for 19 with five touchdowns in those situations.
“We’re always looking for complementary players when we go over our roster and positions,” Eagles VP of football operations Howie Roseman said in a statement released by the team. “Obviously, LeGarrette had a tremendous amount of success with New England last year, rushing for over 1,000 yards and scoring 18 touchdowns and winning a Super Bowl. He sets the tempo for your team as a running back.
“He can run between the tackles and he can drag tacklers down the field. He can do everything you look for in the running game. He had runs of plus-20 yards (Blount had seven rushes of 20-plus yards last season, tied for sixth-most in the league) and he’s won two Super Bowls in the last four years. For us, people are going to see that his size is what jumps out at you, but he’s also got quick feet for a big man. He has a complementary skill set that works well in our backfield.”
According to ESPN's Josina Anderson, Blount's deal can be worth up to $2.8 million, which breaks up into a $1.25M base and $1.55M in incentives. The Eagles entered Wednesday with an NFL-low $2.55 million in salary cap space.
Blount's 2016 was just the second 1,000-yard season of his career and his 1,161 yards were a career high. Blount does have a career yards-per-rush average of 4.4, although his average in 2016 was 3.9.
The Eagles seemed to be in desperate need of a bigger running back to pair with Wendell Smallwood (5-10, 208), Darren Sproles (5-6, 190) and Donnel Pumphrey (5-8, 176), and it appears they've found their answer in Blount, a seven-year veteran. (Ryan Mathews is still technically on the roster but is likely to be cut once he's healthy.)
The Eagles are trying to build long-term and signing a 30-year-old running back might not seem like the way to do that, but it's at least just a one-year deal for Blount, who will offer Carson Wentz another weapon as the franchise quarterback enters Year 2.