Howard will need to fend off competition from rookie second-round pick Miles Sanders, NBC Sports Philadelphia reports.
Not that it was ever likely to happen, but this should end any slim chance for Howard to sign an extension as he prepares for the final season of his rookie contract. Coach Doug Pederson's track record suggests he'll rely on at least two or three running backs each week, with Howard, Sanders, Corey Clement (knee), Wendell Smallwood and Josh Adams all in the mix. Howard is the best bet to take the first snap of the season, but his proven lack of receiving ability is a major drawback, while Sanders at least offers some potential in that regard. There's also a vast gap in the resources devoted to each player, as Howard was acquired from Chicago for a mere sixth-round pick.
Howard profiles as the likely leader of a backfield committee in Philadelphia, NJ.com's Mike Kay reports.
Despite rushing for 3,370 yards and 24 touchdowns in three NFL seasons, Howard was traded from Chicago to Philadelphia on Thursday in exchange for a mere sixth-round pick. His middling speed and lack of receiving ability may limit his snap count, but the 24-year-old should at least rebound from last year's mark of 3.7 yards per carry, with some help from a strong offensive line in Philadelphia. Howard finished 2018 with 399 rushing yards (4.5 per carry) and four TDs in five December games, and he now finds himself in a backfield where the alternatives are Corey Clement (knee), Wendell Smallwood and Josh Adams. Of course, it won't come as any surprise if the Eagles use an early draft pick on a running back, in which case Howard's 2019 outlook would need to be reassessed. Meanwhile, Mike Davis takes over as Tarik Cohen's new partner in the Chicago backfield, giving coach Matt Nagy two capable pass catchers at the position.
The Bears had a crowded backfield with Howard, Tarik Cohen and free-agent pickup Mike Davis, making Howard expendable. Howard saw career lows in rushes, rushing yards and catches in 2018 and could see an uptick in usage now that he's with Philadelphia. Entering his age-24 season, Howard is the favorite to handle early down work for the Eagles, but he could get some competition from the upcoming draft.
Nagy added that GM Ryan Pace will do his due diligence with roster construction, including listening to trade overtures for any player to improve the team. Even before the Bears signed Davis in free agency, the rumor mill swirled regarding Howard, who produced a career-worst 3.7 yards per carry and managed just 5.4 yards per catch in the first season under Nagy. Davis serves as a threat to Howard's two-down gig, and with the latter entering the last year of his rookie contract, running-back-needy teams would be well-served giving him an audition in 2019.
Notoriously unhelpful in the passing game and now coming off a career-worst season with 3.7 yards per carry, Howard reportedly has been shopped on the trade market ahead of the final year of his rookie contract. He isn't a great fit with Bears coach Matt Nagy, but history suggests the 24-year-old can be quite useful in a scheme that heavily relies on zone blocking and doesn't ask him to run many pass routes. Howard restored some of his value in December when he took 88 carries for 399 yards (4.5 average) and four touchdowns in five games, thus completing a third consecutive season without missing a game due to injury. The Bears would probably be willing to trade him for a mid-round pick, but they might as well keep him around if the offers are less than that -- even if they envision Davis replacing Howard's role.
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