Eagles acquire Sproles from Saints for draft pick

Posted: March 14, 2014

BIG PEOPLE beat up little people? Not always, new Eagles special-teamer and safety Chris Maragos said yesterday, when asked about another new Eagle - returner, running back and receiver Darren Sproles.

Sproles is 5-6, 190, and he'll be 31 in June, two strong negatives, given what coach Chip Kelly is trying to build. But there are other considerations, said Maragos, who had to try to tackle Sproles, the Saints' return man, when the Seahawks beat New Orleans in the divisional round of the playoffs a few months back.

"He's got a dangerous side to him. He's got an edge, he's got an ability. I think the thing that really goes understated is everybody talks about how short he is, but I really think that's such a great advantage to him," Maragos said. "He's got a low center of gravity. I think it's really hard for a lot of guys to dip, to get on tackles and then he's so powerful he really is able to get back upfield. Obviously he's shifty, that's stating the obvious, all you guys can see that."

Kelly sure could see it, when the Eagles lost to the Saints in the playoffs, the week before the Seahawks faced them. Sproles' 37-yard kickoff return, with a 15-yard Cary Williams horse collar penalty tacked on, set up the Saints' eventual winning field goal on the final play. The Eagles had grabbed a one-point lead with 4 minutes, 58 seconds remaining, but Sproles quickly hushed Lincoln Financial Field.

Kelly called Sproles "an unbelievable offensive weapon," in a statement released by the team yesterday after the Eagles acquired Sproles for a fifth-round pick they obtained last season, when they sent Isaac Sopoaga to New England. "He can do it all, run, catch, plus he's a proven winner. And on top of that, he can bring all of those dynamic skills to the return game, as well. There's no question we were all excited once we found out we were going to be able to trade for him."

General manager Howie Roseman called Sproles "a player that we have admired for many years," and said, "He's a proven performer at a high level."

Maragos said that, from afar, he knows of Sproles from "just his work ethic and just his ability in practice to perform. I think that's going to be a huge asset to the mindset of this team."

Sproles isn't the player he was in 2011, the year he went from the Chargers to the Saints and set an NFL record for all-purpose yards, with 2,696. Nobody else in NFL history has recorded 2,200 all-purpose yards 4 years in a row, as Sproles did from 2008 to 2011. No NFL player has as many all-purpose yards - 13,808 - as Sproles has rung up from the 2007 season until now. Sproles and LeSean McCoy are the only running backs with more than 150 catches and eight receiving touchdowns since 2011.

But this is 2014, and the Saints were quite willing to part with Sproles, who earlier this week retweeted an ESPN report that he would be traded, with the notation "WOW!" Sproles then remarked, "The stuff u find out on Twitter." He had bid farewell to New Orleans the previous week, under the impression he was going to be released so he could choose a destination.

Though he didn't get to choose the Eagles, Sproles seemed pretty happy with the move last night, tweeting that he was "excited to be a part of the Eagles organization," and thanking New Orleans for "three great years."

Kelly probably envisions using Sproles as a role player, as part of an array of weapons that includes McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Zach Ertz, Riley Cooper and Brent Celek. Unless the Eagles extend him, Sproles will be playing in the final season of a contract that will pay him $3.4 million.

Sproles could make the Eagles much more dynamic in the slot, particularly. He caught 71 passes for 604 yards and two touchdowns last season, a much more impressive figure than his 53 carries for 220 yards and two TDs.

"Darren is one of the smartest football players I've ever been around," Saints coach Sean Payton said in a statement released by the team. "He has been exceptionally consistent and dynamic coming out of the backfield for us the last three seasons and provided us with many different options. Darren is an exceptional person and teammate and we are going to miss him but we will also fondly remember his time as a member of the Saints and we thank him for his professionalism."

That last line was interesting, considering Sproles' tweeted surprise about finding that the Saints tried to trade him, and considering the Instagram rant posted Wednesday night by his wife, Michel, on the same subject.

"I am so disappointed in the Saints organization & the way they are treating my husband," Michel Sproles wrote. "I understand this is a brutal business but when u have a good guy who works hard & does a lot for the community u would think they would show a little more respect.

"To verbalize to him that they will release him so at least he can choose the team he wants to spend his last few years in the NFL on & then take it back without a word & try to trade him is f--d up."

Later in her screed, Michel Sproles invoked the wrath of God.

"See, the way my God is set up, he gets the last say & can get u back better than the Compton Curse Out I want to give these [m-words]."

When Sproles' ex-Saints teammate, Malcolm Jenkins, met with reporters at NovaCare on Wednesday to kick off his Eagles career, Jenkins' wife and infant daughter accompanied him. If Michel Sproles shows up with Darren this afternoon, she could have her own show on sports-talk radio by Monday.

Bio

Full name: Darren Lee Sproles

Height: 5-6

Weight: 190

Birthdate: June 20, 1983 (30 years old)

High school: Olathe North, Olathe, Kan.

College: Kansas State

Drafted: 2005, fourth round, 130th overall pick, by the San Diego Chargers

NFL teams: San Diego Chargers, 2005-2010; New Orleans Saints, 2011-2013.

How he became an Eagle: Acquired from the New Orleans Saints for a fifth-round pick, on March 13, 2014.

College highlights: Sixth most all-purpose yards in NCAA FBS history ... 11th all-time FBS in rushing (4,979 yards) ... Led all FBS in rushing in 2003 (1,986 yards) ... Set 23 K-State records ... Led Kansas State to its first-ever Big 12 championship (2003) ... Finished fifth in Heisman voting (2003).

Pro highlights: Set NFL record for most all-purpose yards in a season (2,696) in 2011 ... Returned a punt and kick for touchdowns on Nov. 11, 2007, against the Colts becoming the first player in NFL history to score his first two NFL TDs on a kick and punt return ... On Sept. 14, 2008, against the Broncos, he became second player in NFL history to accumulate 50 yards rushing, 50 yards receiving and 100 returns yards in the same game. He finished with 52, 72 and 192, including a 103-yard kickoff return. The other player? Gale Sayers ... Set an NFL record for most all-purpose yards in a playoff game (328: 105 rushing, 45 receiving, 178 return), Jan. 3, 2009 vs. Colts ... Spent 2006 on IR because of broken ankle.

Personal: Conquering a speech impediment since childhood, Sproles earned a degree in speech pathology from Kansas State ... Both he and former Saints/current Eagles teammate Malcolm Jenkins have their own youth foundations.


On Twitter: @LesBowen

Blog: ph.ly/Eagletarian

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