With the way the free-spending Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders have affected the 2019 free agent market, you have to be pleased as an Eagles fan to land a power running back like Jordan Howard in the final year of his Bears rookie contract.
The fact that Howard is not only a proven big bopper but also young and affordable ($2.025 million salary cap hit this year and a conditional 6th-round draft pick in 2020) makes a stark contrast to the crazy spending of the Raidahs.
Back in early February the Raiders were putting it out there that Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock would be budget-conscious rather than free-spending. By March that idea went out the window. With about $70 million in cap space, the Raiders splurged. The only position that did not receive an infusion of talent and cash was edge rusher. Along with Antonio Brown, the team added Tyrell Williams. The Raiders signed a couple of veteran linebackers in Vontaze Burfict and Brandon Marshall. There is of course offensive tackle Trent Brown, who helps out one of the worst tackle duos in the NFL last season. For that they made Brown the highest paid offensive lineman in history.
A long term deal was handed out on defense to Lamarcus Joyner who will play primarily nickel corner, but will at times line up at safety as well.
My point is the word is out— if you want to get paid, call the Raiders.
So a sigh of relief for the most part by Eagles fans when Howie Roseman negotiated a deal on the cheap for a solid power back like Howard who is not only a proven straight-ahead runner but also pretty good at pass protect blocking and also receiving out of the backfield.
Dave Spadaro at PE.com calls it “a brilliant move”. EYE don’t know about brilliance, but it certainly makes common sense.
“Jordan Howard fits what the Eagles are looking for to a tee. He isn’t going to wow you with flash and dash, but you’re going to see running behind a strong offensive line moving the chains, picking up critical early-down yardage, and spiking the ball after touchdowns. Defenses have to respect Howard near the goal line. The Eagles made themselves better at the running back position and on offense on Thursday night thanks to some league-meeting time when Roseman stepped to the side and got a deal done.”
At 6-feet, 224 pounds [4.6 “40”-time], Howard brings power to the ground game, and he brings a nose for the end zone. Howard’s 18 touchdowns since 2017 are tied for the third most in the NFL behind the Rams’ Todd Gurley (30) and New Orleans’ Alvin Kamara (22). Howard and Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott are the only two running backs in the NFL with 900-plus yards rushing in each of the last three seasons. And in short-yardage situations (third- or fourth-and-2 or fewer), Howard converted 74 percent of his opportunities this past season (23 of 31), just behind Elliott who was successful 76 percent of the time (35 of 46). Howard’s “explosive” runs numbers have dropped since his rookie season, but the Eagles think he’s going to fit into the offense as a move-the-chains running back who can be effective as a checkdown receiver in the passing game.
Maybe the best part is Howard is only 24 years old and has been blessed with durability. That takes a lot of pressure off the Eagles’ upcoming draft strategy in late April, as the glaring need for running back depth in 2019 has been somewhat addressed—assuming Howard remains healthy and motivated.
I think the Eagles will still be looking to draft a running back in early-to-mid rounds with an EYE for the future. But the acquisition of Jordan Howard gives them a ton of breathing room for now. They can afford to be very selective and avoid reaching in the draft. And they don’t have to get into a bidding war with teams like the Raiders for free agents at the position. Business in the backfield is good again.
A closer look at the money details on Howard’s contract reveals only about $250,000 in guaranteed money. That’s low risk for potential high reward:
- 2019 Salary Cap Charge: $2,025,000
- % of 2019 Team Cap: 1.03%
- 2019 Cash Payout: $2,025,000
- % of 2019 Team Cash Spending: 1.05%
- 2019 Cash to Cap Ratio: 1.00
- Total Contract Value: $2,588,024
- Annual Contract Value: $647,006
- Position Ranking: 83/161 at RB
- Fully Guaranteed Money: $248,024