Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda: Jordan Howard as the RB2

John McMullen

The Eagles have spent the spring trying to add a veteran component to complement Miles Sanders in the backfield, preferring a cost-effective veteran option in the mold of Jordan Howard from a traits standpoint and LeGarrette Blount from a contract one.

An offer was made to Carlos Hyde but Philadelphia was outbid by Seattle. The Seahawks themselves essentially put the same deal down for Devonta Freeman and Hyde and preferred the former, who wanted more money than Hyde got, a one-year $2.75 million contract with only $750K guaranteed and a ceiling of $4M with incentives.

Freeman has told those close to him that he would rather sit out the season than accept those types of terms so logic tells you the price tag isn’t coming down for Howie Roseman to strike, leaving a reunion with LeSean McCoy as the best remaining veteran option for the Eagles, something complicated by age and redundancies to Sanders from a skill-set standpoint before we even get to off-the-field concerns.

Howard, meanwhile, got two years from Miami in free agency but only $4.75M guaranteed so it’s essentially a one-year, cost-effective deal for the Dolphins that will be revisited after the 2020 season.

It stands to reason that if the Eagles didn’t want to go to $4M for the RB2 they didn’t want to go near $5M and perhaps Howard wanted the opportunity to be a lead back, not to mention the favorable weather and tax situation in Florida so there were significant hurdles in trying to bring Howard back.

That said, if the Eagles really want a Howard-type to complement Sanders, why not try to bring the actual guy back by selling him on the organization and winning environment compared to the mess that is Miami?

Howard excelled before the shoulder injury last season and may have kept the job as Doug Pederson’s No. 1 back if the issue never cropped up so he’s already proven his efficacy in this offense.

From Week 4 in Green Bay when Howard ran it 15 times for 87 yards to Weeks 8 and 9 at Buffalo and against his former team in Chicago, Howard was excellent with those final two games being the most trafficked for a RB in the Pederson era, 42 totes for 178 yards, nearly 90.0 yards per game.

If anything, Howard was on a trajectory to price himself completely out of the Eagles’ plans due to the budget placed on that position by the organization and the shoulder injury limited his market, something Philadelphia should have taken advantage of if possible.

Conversely, if $5M vs. $2M is that important to the Eagles than perhaps jump into the deep end of the pool and instead of playing the nostalgia game with McCoy, roll the dice with the young bodies available like Corey Clement, Elijah Holyfield, and undrafted rookie Michael Warren.

Or ignore the conventional wisdom with Boston Scott and realize while short at 5-foot-6, the Louisiana Tech product is hardly small at over 200 pounds with a powerful lower body. More so, Scott's performance late last season earned him the right to compete for an expanded role. 

COULDA: Antied up and paid Hyde, the 230-pound bruiser who rushed for 1,070 yards with Houston last season.

SHOULDA: Done more to keep Howard in Philadelphia.

WOULDA: Valued the RB2 position a little more.

John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John every Monday and Friday on SIRIUSXM’s Tony Bruno Show with Harry Mayes, and every Tuesday and Thursday with Eytan Shander on SBNation Radio. You can reach him at or on Twitter @JFMcMullen