Sproles happy he was traded to Eagles

Darren Sproles says helikes to operate in space. ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF
Darren Sproles says helikes to operate in space. ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF
Posted: March 16, 2014

Darren Sproles arrived at the Eagles facility on Friday for the first time since the team acquired him a day earlier, and management quickly showed how much it wanted the 30-year-old running back by giving him a two-year contract extension that could keep him in Philadelphia through 2016.

Sproles, who was hoping that the Saints would release him so he could choose his own team, was pleased with the deal to the Eagles. His concern was going to a team in which he did not fit, but that does not appear to be an issue.

"When I finally heard it, I was happy, because they could have traded me somewhere I didn't want to be," Sproles said.

An extension was not a precondition for his coming to Philadelphia, but he liked the opportunity and wanted to stay. Sproles had one year remaining on his $3.5 million deal.

He said the offense could be "crazy" with all the possibilities, including LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper, Zach Ertz, and Brent Celek. Because of Sproles' versatility, he did not believe all the other options would limit his productivity. He mentioned catching the ball out of the backfield and the return games as areas in which he could help.

When asked the best way to utilize him, Sproles said, "anywhere in space." What impressed Sproles about the Eagles offense was the way coach Chip Kelly created open space for skill players to thrive.

Sproles met Kelly on Friday, and the coach brought up Sproles' 39-yard kick return in the playoffs that gave the Saints favorable field position for their game-winning drive.

Entering his age-31 season, Sproles did not believe that the drop-off running backs usually experience on the other side of 30 would affect him. He explained that his style is different from that of other running backs, and he does not absorb as much of a pounding as a hybrid player who seldom plays between the tackles.

At 5-foot-6, Sproles is the second-shortest player in the NFL and does not necessarily fit into Kelly's "big people beat up little people" philosophy. But Sproles can run around big people, which he has done throughout his nine-year NFL career.

"They've told me that since I was in high school," Sproles said of facing doubts about his height. "But that always kept me going, just to prove people wrong."

The Eagles also introduced cornerback Nolan Carroll, who was signed away from the Dolphins to add depth to the defensive backfield. The Eagles had the worst pass defense in the NFL, and Carroll said Kelly told him he would be able to compete for a starting job with Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher.

"You just don't want to go somewhere because of the money, and it was a good situation," Carroll said. "Coach Kelly told me and my agent that this would be a good job to come in and compete for a starting job. Looking at the roster, they didn't have a lot of depth. . . . I feel comfortable that I can come in and make the group better. Competition just makes everyone better."

The Eagles were attracted to Carroll's length. He is listed at 6-foot-1 and 205. Carroll started 12 games for Miami last season and he played a lot of press coverage, which is what the Eagles are looking for from their corners.

The former fifth-round pick initially survived in the league because of special teams. His assistant special-teams coordinator in Miami was Dave Fipp, who now runs the Eagles' special teams.

"When it came down to it, my time in Miami was good, but it was ready for another chapter in my life," said Carroll, who added that signing for two years was the Eagles' idea. "I felt I was ready to move on and do something else."


zberman@phillynews.com

@ZBerm

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