One of the best kept secrets in free agency came to a head today, as the Philadelphia Eagles signed former Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount to a 1-year deal worth up to $2.8 million. Few were even aware that the Eagles and Blount had engaged in contract talks. Rumors were swirling about Blount coming to the NFC East, but most believed it would be to the rival Giants.
The move, surprising as it may be, makes sense. The Eagles desperately needed a power back to compliment the small bodies and shifty running styles of Darren Sproles and newly acquired Donnel Pumphrey. Blount, at 6 feet 250 pounds, fits the mold perfectly. Blount scored 18 touchdowns last year, tops in the league. The Eagles as a team rushed for 16 touchdowns. The need was obvious.
Signing Blount also works on a financial level for the Eagles. A one year deal means that the team has no commitment to what will be a 31-year-old running back beyond 2017. $2.8 million was a bit heftier than the reported $2.1 million tender the Patriots offered him, but if he can come close to replicating his 2016 performance, he would be a steal.
This is the second free agent the Eagles have signed from the Patriots this year, as Blount joins former teammate Chris Long.
It seems that, along with talent, the Eagles front office is looking to add a culture of winning to the locker room. In his statement announcing the signing, VP of Football Operations Howie Roseman said that “LeGarrette Blount… has enjoyed a great deal of success in New England and we are excited about adding him to this football team”. It certainly doesn’t hurt to have players around that are used to winning.
The signing all but ensures that Ryan Mathews will be released from the team. However, don’t expect that Blount is not a lock to take Mathews’ starting job. From Roseman: “We feel good about the depth and competition that we have created at the running back position and we are looking forward to getting the guys out on the field next week for OTAs.” Many (myself included) expect Blount to start in 2017, but it looks like he’ll have to earn it.
Adding Blount is just the latest in a string of moves that the Eagles have made to give sophomore QB Carson Wentz the tools to succeed. The team has already added significant pieces this offseason in Alshon Jeffrey and Torrey Smith. Blount is just another part of what could be a scary offense in 2017.
With the signing of Blount, all the holes on offense seem to be filled for the Eagles. They have created a team that has multiple threats at every position on the offensive side of the ball. The rest of the NFL is on notice: these birds can fly high in 2017.