LeGarrette Blount‘s arduous foray into free agency finally reached an end Tuesday after signing a one-year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles worth up to $2.8 million. Blount is coming off a campaign where he led the NFL with 18 rushing touchdowns as a member of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots and now adds a new dimension to the Eagles’ running game.
It’s somewhat staggering that Blount remained on the open market well into the spring, although many believe he was a product of the Patriots’ system and it can’t be overlooked that he will turn 31 in December. Blount should be used exclusively as a short-yardage weapon, even as he comes off an 1,161-yard campaign. Amid a crowded Eagles’ backfield, Blount adds another layer to their ground game and it’s an astute signing ahead of training camp.
Philadelphia’s running backs averaged 4.28 yards per carry last season, the 13th-best total in the league, according to data compiled by Football Outsiders. However, the Eagles completed 57 percent of their runs on third and fourth down with less than two yards to go for a first down or touchdown, a phenomenon explained in Football Outsiders’ “Power Success” category. This falls well below the league average of 63 percent, and Blount’s bruising approach to the game ought to give the Eagles’ rushing attack a more complete profile.
Blount’s style is in diametric opposition to the rest of the Eagles’ cohort, with the undersized Darren Sproles and rookie Donnel Pumphrey relying on finesse, agility, and their ability to separate from defenders in the open field, while Wendell Smallwood isn’t suited for every-down usage. It was reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Ryan Mathews will likely be released as a result of Blount’s signing, giving the former Patriots star a chance to seize control of the offense.
The veteran running back joins the Eagles with championship pedigree, dangling two Super Bowl rings upon meeting his new club. Given the current status of their roster and making a patient assessment of the market, the Eagles did well to gain the NFL’s reigning rushing touchdown leader on a low-risk, high-reward deal.
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