This has nothing to do with LeSean McCoy being a former Eagle and the team’s all-time leading rusher.
This isn’t about nostalgia.
It’s about adding a guy who makes this a better football team.
The Eagles are in the market for a veteran backup running back, and the best one available just happens to be the guy who averaged over 1,100 rushing yards per season in an Eagles uniform from 2009 through 2014.
Generally, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to sign running backs in their 30s, and Shady turns 32 in July.
But he’s different than other older running backs in two critical ways:
First of all, he’s never suffered a major injury, and he’s missed just 14 games because of injury in 11 NFL seasons. He’s one of only seven running backs in NFL history to play at least 12 games in each of his first 11 seasons and one of only 13 with at least 100 carries in each of his first 11 seasons. He’s always available, and that’s paramount for a backup at any position.
And second of all, the inevitable decline that we see in running backs when they hit 29 or 30 hasn’t happened with McCoy. He averaged 4.6 yards per carry for the Chiefs last year and that ranked him 12th in the NFL in yards per carry among running backs with at least 100 carries – ahead of guys like Ezekiel Elliott, Saquon Barkley and Dalvin Cook. McCoy became only the fourth player in NFL history to average 4.6 or higher in his 11th season, only the second in the last 35 years.
Last year was a weird one for Shady.
In his only season with the Chiefs, he was eighth among all NFL running backs eight games into the season with a 5.3 average on about eight carries a game.
Then he had a costly fumble that may have cost the Chiefs a game against the Packers, the Chiefs’ last loss of the season. The next week he got just three carries and Damien Williams ran for 125 yards with a 91-yard TD.
Williams established himself as the lead back, then the Chiefs signed Spencer Ware, and Shady got only 32 carries the rest of the year, played just one snap in the postseason and was inactive for the Super Bowl.
But taken as a whole, 2019 was an encouraging year for Shady. He showed he can still play at a high level when used the right way.
And when you look at the running backs on the market right now, you can’t find anybody close in terms of production, health and fit.
It’s easy to understand why the Eagles want to add to their running back room.
We all love what Miles Sanders did last year, but if he got hurt and had to miss a few games, what do the Eagles have behind him?
As impressive as Boston Scott was late in the season, he’s more of a change-of-pace receiving back than a high-volume runner. Corey Clement’s injuries make it tough to rely on him, and Elijah Holyfield, Adrian Killins and Michael Warren have never played an NFL snap.
Shady gives you a guy who can get you through a game or two if you need it. He averaged 4.8 yards per carry last year in the five games he got at least 10 carries.
But he’s also a guy who is aware at this point in his career that he’s not a full-time starter and is happy to be a role player. Even when he rode the bench for Andy Reid in Kansas City at the end of last year, he just stayed ready and never complained.
He’s healthy. He’s effective. He’s available. He wouldn’t cost much. And that jersey No. 25 is just waiting to be worn, untouched since 2014.
Shady loves this team, loves this franchise, wants to be here. He’s got a great relationship with Duce Staley and Doug Pederson.
Howie Roseman has undone nearly all the damage Chip Kelly inflicted on this roster.
There’s just one final step to go.
Not for old time’s sake. But because he’s the best guy out there.
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