To be clear, there are no reports connecting the Eagles to either Adrian Peterson or Jamaal Charles at this time. However, when a pair of Pro Bowl running backs become free agents, it’s only natural for their names to come up in conversation.
So let’s talk about Peterson and Charles. Should the Eagles have interest, and more importantly, will they?
There has been a great deal of speculation that the Eagles will move on from Ryan Mathews this offseason. While Mathews is an excellent back when healthy, that is rare. OK, so missing three games in each of the past two seasons isn’t exactly the end of the world, but he always seems to be dealing with something. Plus, a neck injury shut Mathews down at the end of 2016, which sounds like serious stuff.
Financially, the Eagles stand to gain $4 million from Mathews’ release. Then again, if they turn around and sign a veteran ball-carrier to replace him, those savings are gone, so money is a moot point for this discussion.
Of course, should the Eagles decide to keep Mathews, there’s no need for a veteran running back at all. Either way, that angle must be addressed first.
But supposing Mathews is out of the way, would the Eagles go after Peterson or Charles?
First, let’s look at Peterson, a three-time rushing champion and the 2012 NFL Most Valuable Player. The seven-time Pro Bowler turns 32 in March and is coming off of a torn meniscus, although he rushed for 1,485 yards at 4.5 yards per carry with 11 touchdowns in his last healthy season. Hall of Fame career, but what does he have left in the tank?
Yet even setting aside the question of whether Peterson is worth the risk, the Eagles don’t appear to be on his radar. He already mentioned four desired landing spots, including a return to the Vikings, and his father, Nelson, recently listed three more. That’s nearly one quarter of the league, and the Eagles were not among them.
That doesn’t mean Peterson wouldn’t play for the Eagles, but he clearly doesn’t think it’s the best fit.
Charles, on the other hand, is a very logical target for the Eagles. After all, he played for coach Doug Pederson in Kansas City, so he knows the offense and is undeniably a fit.
Then again, Charles’ health is an even bigger question mark than Peterson’s. A four-time Pro Bowler whose career 5.5 yards per carry are an all-time best for the running back position, Charles has played only eight games over the past two seasons. He never made a full recovery from a torn ACL in 2015, and at 30 years old, it’s unclear if he ever will.
There’s no way the Eagles could count on Charles to remain an every-down back at this point in his career. And before you suggest they sign him to be part of a committee, ask yourself what he brings to the table Darren Sproles doesn’t already.
Sure, Charles is a better runner (assuming he can play), but the 5-10 carries per game he would get would likely be at the expense of Sproles, who is a better receiver and lines up all over the place. It’s difficult to say whether the addition would result in a net gain for the offense.
Given the ages and injury histories of these two players, not to mention the cost, it doesn’t make a ton of sense for the Eagles to be serious suitors for either one. It might be fun to think about, but even if Peterson or Charles were to come here, the guy who ran for 2,000 yards in a season and the guy who averaged 5.5 yards per carry throughout his career aren’t who the Eagles are going to get.
Rating the Rumor: Get out of here