Eagles make a deal for dynamic Sproles

Two of the newest Eagles, Chris Maragos (left) and Bryan Braman, discuss their signings at a news conference. The free-agent additions are expected to bolster special teams.
Two of the newest Eagles, Chris Maragos (left) and Bryan Braman, discuss their signings at a news conference. The free-agent additions are expected to bolster special teams. (CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer)
Posted: March 15, 2014

The Eagles' biggest splash during free agency actually came in a trade Thursday, when they acquired New Orleans Saints running back Darren Sproles for a fifth-round draft pick.

The Eagles also added to their secondary by agreeing to terms with former Miami Dolphins cornerback Nolan Carroll, who became the third defensive back the team has added in as many days.

It was clear entering the week that the Eagles needed to upgrade their defense and special teams, but the Sproles trade excited fans, who imagined what the dynamic, diminutive threat would look like in Chip Kelly's offense.

Sproles, who will turn 31 in June, is 5-foot-6 and 190 pounds. Although he is listed as a running back, the multidimensional Sproles can be used as a runner, receiver, and returner.

"Darren Sproles is an unbelievable offensive weapon," Kelly said in a statement. "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. There is no question we were all excited once we found out we were going to be able to trade for him."

Sproles is entering the final year of his contract at $3.5 million. The Eagles acquired him with the fifth-round pick they received from the Patriots in the Isaac Sopoaga trade in October, so the Eagles essentially dealt Sopoaga and their sixth-round pick for Sproles. The benefit to the Saints was salary-cap relief, although they surrendered a player who has averaged 77 receptions and 1,016 combined receiving and rushing yards in the last three seasons.

Shortly after the Eagles acquired Sproles, they reached a deal with Carroll. They needed to bolster their cornerback corps, and they locked up the 27-year-old for two years at $5.2 million plus incentives, a league source said.

A 2010 fifth-round pick out of Maryland, Carroll started 12 games last season and 26 in his four-year career. Listed at 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, Carroll fits the prototype that the Eagles search for at that position. He also has press-coverage skills and is a sound tackler.

Carroll will add depth as an outside cornerback and will compete with starters Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher.

"You can never have enough big, long corners on a football team," general manager Howie Roseman said in a statement.

Both Carroll and Sproles will play on special teams, which has been a trend in most of the acquisitions this week. The Eagles introduced safety Chris Maragos and linebacker Bryan Braman on Thursday, after agreeing to deals with them a day earlier, mostly because of their ability on special teams.

"So often, people think you run down the field and go tackle the ballcarrier, which maybe some guys do, but it's a lot more calculated than that," said Maragos, who played with the Seattle Seahawks the last three seasons. "You have to have a person who can make decisions quick, read things really fast, and be athletic but have a lot of grit to them."

Braman's approach was a bit more simplistic.

"Kill, maim, and destroy," the former Houston Texan said.


zberman@phillynews.com

@ZBerm

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