By Rob Maaddi
AP Pro Football Writer
Chip Kelly got another versatile playmaker for his offense.
The Philadelphia Eagles acquired running back Darren Sproles from the New Orleans Saints for a fifth-round draft pick on Tuesday. The Eagles also agreed on a two-year contract with former Dolphins cornerback Nolan Carroll.
“Darren Sproles is an unbelievable offensive weapon,” Kelly said. “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 as well. There is no question we were all excited once we found out we were going to be able to trade for him.”
The 30-year-old Sproles is coming off one of his least productive seasons. He ranked in the bottom five among punt returners with a 6.7 yards per return average and was third worst among kick returners with an average of 21.3.
Sproles’ offensive numbers also went down for the third straight year. He had 71 catches for 604 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 220 yards and two scores.
He joins an up-tempo offense that was quite dynamic in Kelly’s first season in Philadelphia. The Eagles set team records for points (442), total net yards (6,676), touchdowns (53), and gross yards passing (4,406). All-Pro running back LeSean McCoy had a franchise-best 1,607 yards rushing and 2,146 yards from scrimmage. Pro Bowl MVP Nick Foles had the third-highest passer rating (119.2) in league history.
“Darren is a player that we have admired for many years,” Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said. “He’s a proven performer at a high level. He’s such a dangerous back and he’s a great piece to add to our offense and to our special teams. We spent a considerable time in order to try to make this happen and we were very happy to get a deal done with New Orleans.”
Sproles played his first five seasons in San Diego and last three with the Saints. He has run for 2,221 yards and 11 TDs and caught 378 passes for 3,381 yards and 27 TDs. Since 2007, Sproles leads the NFL with 13,806 all-purpose yards and ranks first among running backs in receptions (375), yards receiving (3,371) and TD catches. He also has five return touchdowns on punts (three) and kickoffs (two).
The Saints get the second of Philadelphia’s two fifth-round picks in May. The Eagles acquired that pick from the Patriots in a trade for defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga last October.