Sproles trade doesn’t make much sense for Eagles, anybody

Sproles trade doesn’t make much sense for Eagles, anybody

Well, I hope everyone is happy. The Philadelphia Eagles finally added a coveted, overpaid, aging veteran during this free agency period, sending a fifth-round pick to the New Orleans Saints in exchange for running back/all-purpose weapon Darren Sproles.

This is a swap that would’ve been fresh and exciting maybe two years ago. Now, Sproles is about to turn 31 and is coming off one of the least productive seasons in his nine-year NFL career.

Sproles ran 53 times for just 220 yards (4.2 AVG) and two touchdowns in 2013, although the ground attack wasn't what he was known for. The '05 fourth-round pick still managed to reel in 71 passes, but for only 604 yards (8.5 AVG) and two touchdowns. His return numbers were as bad as they’ve ever been—21.3 on kickoffs, 6.7 on punts, zero scores. He also lost two fumbles.

The playoffs weren’t significantly better. In two games, Sproles carried seven times for 31 yards (4.4 AVG) and posted nine receptions for 63 (7.0 AVG) with zero TDs. Including the postseason, he broke 40 yards receiving just once in his final 11 games as a Saint.

Simply put, Sproles lost the explosion that once made him a special player. Look no further than his kick return to set up the Saints’ game-winning score in the Birds’ first-round playoff exit. If Sproles had that enormous of a hole to run through two years ago, nobody catches him, yet Cary Williams was able to corral him by the collar.

Sure, Sproles will catch a high number of balls out of the backfield, which is not an altogether useless skill, but so could a well-placed bucket.

At this point, you might be thinking to yourself, ‘So what, it was only a fifth-round pick.’ I’ll take the pick, thank you. That was Earl Wolff last year, who looks like a potential starter at safety.

In this year’s draft, it could be more. Thanks to a record number of underclassmen entering the selection process, this is a considerably deep draft. There is talent to be found in the fifth round—including at running back, potentially.

Wouldn’t you much rather have De’Anthony Thomas out of Oregon for that pick, somebody who already knows Chip Kelly’s offense, isn’t in his 30s and would have more than one year remaining on his contract?

A fifth-round pick is far from guaranteed to be an NFL player, but neither will Sproles anymore soon enough.

Sproles is entering the final year of his deal and is scheduled to make $3.4 million.

Sproles’ presence could mean the front office is ready to act on a Bryce Brown trade this offseason. Brown didn’t appear to be a great fit for Kelly’s scheme, and if they get the pick back that was exchanged for Sproles, the whole series of moves is something of a wash.

Still, it cannot be understated that Sproles is 31, on the final year of his deal and fading. Brown will be 23, is under contract and has flashed Pro Bowl potential.

Is this trade the end of the world? No, in fact my guess is Sproles will be at least serviceable in his role in Kelly’s offense. With all that talent surrounding him in the league’s No. 2 offense, there will be opportunities to make plays.

Yet given the Eagles’ approach to the rest of this offseason so far—avoiding expensive, big-name players as deftly as LeSean McCoy eludes Louis Delmas in the snow—it’s difficult for me to wrap my head around this. There’s been so much talk of a plan that relies on building through the draft, yet the front office is shipping off a valuable pick for somebody who probably won’t even be here a year from now.

Call me a curmudgeon or a hater, but this is a baffling trade. Maybe the Eagles can squeeze the last drops of football out of Sproles. Then again, it’s not like the offense even needed him. Weird move, giving up a draft pick for a beat-up rental at the club’s strongest position.

>> Eagles acquire Darren Sproles from Saints [CSN]

Temple cracks Top 25 in final CFP rankings, will play in Military Bowl

ap-temple.jpg
The Associated Press

Temple cracks Top 25 in final CFP rankings, will play in Military Bowl

After winning its first American Athletic Conference championship Saturday, Temple learned its postseason fate Sunday and it does not involve a New Year's Six bowl game.

The Owls will play Wake Forest in the Military Bowl on Dec. 27 in Annapolis, Maryland. Temple also finished No. 24 in the final College Football Playoff rankings and No. 23 in the AP poll.

At 10-3, Temple has its first back-to-back 10-win season in program history. It's also the first time the Owls have been ranked in consecutive seasons. Head coach Matt Rhule now has 28 wins as Temple's head coach, tying him with Bruce Arians' for the sixth-most in school history.

Wake Forest finished the season 6-6 and on a three-game losing streak, but two of those three loses came to No. 2 Clemson and No. 13 Louisville. The Deamon Deacons have lost five of their last six games.

Flyers-Predators 5 things: Going for longest win streak since 2014

Flyers-Predators 5 things: Going for longest win streak since 2014

Flyers (13-10-3) at Predators (11-8-4)
6 p.m. on CSN and CSNPhilly.com

The Flyers have won a season-high four games in a row. They'll try to make it five Sunday night when they visit the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena for the second game of a back-to-back set.

Let's take a look at five things you need to know.

1. Streaking like 2014?
Not only do the Flyers have a chance to extend their season-best winning streak, but they're also looking to win their most consecutive games since March 15-22, 2014, when they also won five straight.

The Flyers have put up strong showings in the back ends of back-to-backs, going 4-1-1 thus far.

“You just have to have the work ethic night in and night out," Steve Mason said Saturday after the Flyers' 3-1 win over the Blackhawks. "And, I think we were struggling to find that. There are games when we were swarming and giving teams no other option, and other nights we were chasing the puck.

"We have another tough test going to Nashville to play. So, we’re going to have to follow up with another great effort.” 

2. A Provorov encore?
Ivan Provorov's confidence has to be at his highest of the season.

In Saturday's win, the 19-year-old blueliner scored two goals in a 31-second span to double his goal total through the first 25 games.

Provorov said he thinks defense first, but the offensive production is a good sign.

“Score one goal in a game, it’s a good feeling. Score two in one shift, it’s unbelievable,” Provorov said.

“Every time you score, it’s like a confidence booster."

3. Predators finding stride
After losing eight of their first 11 games, Peter Laviolette's Predators have gotten on track, going 8-3-1 since.

Nashville ranks in the top half of the league in goals per game (3.00 — tied for fifth), goals against per game (2.61 — 15th), power-play percentage (22.6 — sixth) and penalty-kill percentage (84.5 — 10th).

Last time out, the Predators blew a 4-1 lead in the third period for a 5-4 overtime loss to the Devils on Saturday, so they should be extra focused.

4. Keep an eye on ...
Flyers: On Saturday, Brayden Schenn scored just his second goal in his past 18 games. Schenn can be streaky so maybe he feeds off that goal. He's also a career plus-4 against the Predators, with two goals and three assists in eight games.

Predators: Let's go P.K. Subban, who isn't exactly a favorite among Flyers fans. He's off to a nice start in his first season in Nashville with six goals and 10 assists, and eight points (three goals, five assists) in his last eight games.

5. This and that
• Flyers goalie Steve Mason is 7-7-5 with a 2.42 goals-against average and .916 save percentage in 20 career games against the Predators.

• Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne is 3-2-2 with a 2.91 goals-against average and .906 save percentage in seven career games against the Flyers.

• Claude Giroux is four assists away from passing Rick MacLeish (369) and Eric Lindros (369) for fifth on the Flyers’ all-time list.