The Eagles are expected to be in the free agent running back market with only Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood, Ryan Matthews, Byron Marshall and Donnel Pumphrey on the roster. Additionally, Mathews is expected to be cut and Marshall is reportedly switching positions to wide receiver, increasing Philadelphia’s need.
Bleeding Green Nation recently explored seven running backs who the Eagles could attempt to make a trade for and Cincinnati Bengals running back Jeremy Hill made the list. Here’s what BGN had to say about why they think Hill could land in Philly:
Hill is entering the final year of his rookie contract. Meanwhile, the Bengals drafted Joe Mixon in the second round. Cincinnati also still employs Giovani Bernard and five other running backs on their roster. If Hill isn’t in the long-term plans, the Bengals could look to ship him out now while they can get value for him.
Getting the 24-year-old Hill would figure to be a buy-low move for the Eagles. After rushing for 1,124 yards and nine touchdowns as a rookie in 2014, he only averaged 3.6 yards per carry in 2015 and 3.8 in 2016. Hill doesn’t offer much as a pass catcher, but he’s been a touchdown machine. He has 29 rushing scores (plus one receiving) over three seasons.
Likelihood: Could be a decent option if the Eagles can buy low on him.
“I think Hill would be a good fit, because he isn’t going to get us the big runs. He is a good short yardage back,” one Eagles fan said in the article’s comments. “He can get us 3 on the 3rd or 4th and 2. And I believe he has better ball security than Matthews.”
“I like the idea of buying low on Hill, but I wouldn’t want to assume he’s our main guy either,” another Eagles fan wrote. “Then again, maybe he becomes a cheap version of Blount and simply a cog in the RB committee?
So, is a Hill trade in the cards for the Eagles?
I do not believe the Bengals have any interest in shipping Hill elsewhere. Even with Mixon and Bernard on the roster, the Bengals are best served keeping Hill through the final year of his rookie deal. That’s true even if the team has no intention of re-signing him when he hits free agency in 2018. The Bengals typically are hesitant to let rookies play early on (making Hill a necessity on the roster) and Bernard is recovering from ACL surgery (further requiring Hill as insurance in case Bernard has any setbacks). Hill did score 29 rushing touchdowns in the last three seasons, and his goal-line ability is something the Bengals can continue to utilize. Even if Mixon plays early on and Bernard is fully healthy, the Bengals will likely figure out ways to utilize Hill, especially in the red zone.
Cedric Peerman, Tra Carson (who spent 2016 on the practice squad) and undrafted rookies Stanley "Boom" Williams and Jarveon Williams are the only other running backs on the roster. Sixth round draft pick Brandon Wilson can also serve as a running back, though the Bengals currently have him listed at safety. (Note: I just realized the Bengals have four guys whose last name is Williams on the roster.)
I’d put my money on Hill remaining in Cincinnati through his rookie contract. How about you?