Eagles fans can sleep easier this weekend. They have the running back they so desperately craved.
On the same day the Phillies opened their season of high hopes in electric fashion, pasting the Atlanta Braves, 10-4, Howie Roseman recaptured center stage by acquiring Jordan Howard from the Chicago Bears just hours after the Phils’ victory.
The Eagles executive vice president of football operations didn’t have to part with much to acquire a running back who is still just 24 and ran for more than 1,000 yards in two of his first three NFL seasons. The Birds will reportedly send the Bears a sixth-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft that can go as high as a fifth-rounder.
It is the second trade engineered by Roseman this offseason. He bolstered the offense two weeks ago by trading for receiver DeSean Jackson.
The acquisition of Howard seems to complete the offensive puzzle for the Eagles, and should now allow them to bolster their depth on the offensive and defensive lines as well as pluck perhaps a safety with one of their first three picks in the draft – No. 25, 53 and 57.
Howard entered the league as a fifth-round draft pick out of the University of Indiana and wasted no time making his presence known. As a rookie, he gained 1,313 yards, averaging 5.2 yards per carry and scoring six touchdowns.
In 2017, he ran for 1,122 yards with nine touchdowns and an average of 4.1 yards per carry.
Last season, Howard had 935 yards and a 3.7 yards per carry average to go along with nine touchdowns.
He is also a threat catching the ball out of the backfield, with 72 receptions for 568 yards in his three seasons.
In two games against the Eagles – one in 2016, the other in 2017 - Howard did not exactly shine.
In the first game, he had just three carries for 22 yards and two catches for nine yards in a 29-14 loss. In the second matchup, he had just six yards on seven carries and two receptions for 13 yards in a 31-3 loss.
Perhaps a knock on Howard is his propensity to fumble. He’s had five of them in the 47 games he’s played. That’s not terrible, but it could certainly improve.
Howard immediately vaults to the top of the team’s depth chart at running back, a position that includes Wendell Smallwood, Corey Clement, Josh Adams, and Boston Scott.
There is also a possibility that the Eagles could draft a running back.
By getting Howard, however, that need no longer seems to be on the front burner.