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]

Joel Embiid practices fully but doubtful for Friday and Saturday

Joel Embiid practices fully but doubtful for Friday and Saturday

Joel Embiid was a full participant Wednesday during the Sixers' first practice back from the All-Star break, but he's listed as doubtful for their games Friday and Saturday.

The Sixers host the Wizards Friday night (7/CSN) and face the Knicks Saturday night at Madison Square Garden (7:30/CSN).

If Embiid misses both games it would be 13 in a row and 16 of 17.

Still, it's a good sign he was able to practice in full Wednesday.

Ben Simmons, meanwhile, has a CT scan scheduled for Thursday in New York. The appointment should show whether his foot has healed enough for him to take the next step in his rehab.

Simmons did individual work at Wednesday's practice.

CSN Philly's Jessica Camerato contributed to this report.

Sarah Baicker: I don't skate like a man, just a darn good woman

Sarah Baicker: I don't skate like a man, just a darn good woman

In late December, I was invited to play in a pick-up hockey game with some other members of the local sports media community. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I was one of only two women there that day. Even now, female ice hockey players aren’t exactly common.

After the game, a reporter I’ve known a while — a guy I like a lot — said to me: “Don’t take this the wrong way, but you skate like a man.” I didn’t take it wrong, of course; he meant it as a compliment. The reporter wanted nothing more than to tell me I’d impressed him.

I thought about this exchange a lot in the days that followed. Had someone told me I played hockey like a boy when I was 15, I would have worn that description like a badge. Hell yeah, 15-year-old Sarah would have thought, I do play like a boy. I’m as tough as a boy. I’m as fierce and competitive as any boy on my team. I would have reveled in it, just as I reveled in a similar label I’d received even earlier in my adolescence: tomboy.

Yeah, I was a tomboy. I hung around with the neighborhood boys, riding bikes between each other’s houses or catching salamanders in the creek that ran through town. I loved sports, and my bedroom walls — papered with newspaper clippings and photos of Flyers players — were a far cry from the pink-tinged rooms that belonged to the girls at school. 

As much as I could, I dressed like a boy too, even once cutting the sleeves off of an oversized T-shirt before I went out to rollerblade with our next-door neighbors. My grandmother, who was visiting at the time, pulled me aside to tell me I really ought to dress more appropriately. I rolled my eyes.

I was a tomboy, and I loved the word and everything it stood for. I felt pride in my tomboyishness, believing that the things I liked — the things boys liked — were clearly better than the things stereotypically left to the girls.

I’m almost embarrassed to admit it was a conversation with a 15-year-old that changed my perspective, just a few days after my reporter friend had compared my hockey skills to those of a man. I sat down with Mo’ne Davis, the female Little League pitching phenom, for this very project. I asked her if she identified as a tomboy, and she shrugged. Not really, she said. Maybe other people wanted to define her that way, she suggested, but that wasn’t how she viewed things.

You know that record scratch sound effect they play on TV or in the movies? The one that denotes a sort of “wait … what?!” moment? That’s what happened in my head. Mo’ne Davis, the girl who played on the boys’ team and excelled, didn’t consider herself a tomboy?

Something clicked in my head after that. I’ve long identified as a feminist, and I’ve been a big supporter of girls in sports for as long as I can remember. I coach girls hockey, I’ve spoken at schools and camps about playing and working in sports as a woman. For some reason, though, it took a 15-year-old shrugging her shoulders at the label “tomboy” to take the power out of the word for me. Why does one have to be a tomboy, when one can simply be a girl who kicks ass? How had I never considered this before?

In many ways (and especially in sports) if something is male, it’s considered superior. It goes beyond just the things kids like to do, and it’s all old news. It’s also something I’m ashamed to admit I’ve bought into for practically all of my life. But no longer. How can I help change the narrative if I’m too busy playing along with it?

And if I could do it over, when that reporter approached me after our hockey game to tell me I skated like a man, I would have smiled, shook my head and said: Nah. But I skate like a darn good woman.