For over a year now, we've heard whispers about the Bears possibly wanting to trade Jordan Howard and it doesn't look like that's going away.
The latest comes from ESPN's Adam Schefter:
Multiple teams approached the Chicago Bears at the combine last week and discussed a potential trade for RB Jordan Howard, per league sources. Discussions ongoing.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 7, 2019
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Hmm. It's fair to wonder if the Eagles are one of those teams.
After all, the Eagles are in the market to make improvements at the running back position and Howard has rushed for over 3,300 yards during his first three NFL seasons.
The obvious connection here is Joe Douglas. The Eagles' VP of player personnel was the Bears' director of college scouting for one season in 2015, the same year they were scouting Howard before drafting him in the fifth round of the 2016 draft. Since his arrival, Douglas' fingerprints have been all over the Eagles' roster.
It's even possible the Eagles were gearing up to take Howard out of Indiana when he went in the fifth round in 2016. But he went three spots before the Birds took Wendell Smallwood out of West Virginia.
The problem with Howard is he's a more one-dimensional player than the Eagles generally seem to want. He has never caught more than 29 balls in a year and isn't exactly a super elusive runner. It seems like that's at least part of the reason his time in Chicago might be coming to an end (see story).
Howard is cheap for now. His base salary for 2019 is just over $2 million. That's the good part. The bad part is that 2019 is the final year of his rookie contract, so he's cost-controlled for just one more season. He'll be an unrestricted free agent after this upcoming season. So how much would the Eagles be willing to give up to get one cheap year of Howard?
Another positive: If the Eagles were to trade for a running back, it wouldn't count as a free agent pickup and wouldn't hurt their return if they want to play the compensatory pick game.
And we have seen the Eagles' willingness to trade for a running back before. During the 2017 season, they traded a fourth-round pick for a year and a half of Jay Ajayi. He was a big part of the Super Bowl team, but played just four games in 2018 before he tore his ACL and missed the rest of the season.
The Bears will likely be looking for a draft pick in return for Howard and the Eagles have eight of them in April. Maybe they'd be better off drafting one in a mid-round (sort of like where Howard went in 2016) instead of trading for a running back with three years under his belt. There are really two ways to look at it.
At the very least, there are some reasons to think the Eagles are at least a little interested in making a move for Howard. At least enough to make a phone call.
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