Philadelphia lands Jordan Howard in trade with Bears

Philadelphia lands Jordan Howard in trade with Bears

Player Movement

Philadelphia lands Jordan Howard in trade with Bears

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(Bruce Kluckhohn, USA TODAY Sports)

The Chicago Bears sent underutilized running back Jordan Howard to the Philadelphia Eagles for a conditional 2020 draft selection. The move makes plenty of sense for both parties, since Philly’s offense was in dire need of a proven rusher, and Howard wasn’t a good fit for the spread system in Chicago.

Following one of the stronger rookie campaigns in recent years, Howard added three more touchdowns on the ground in 2017 and continued to look the part, even if being less efficient. The 2018 season brought a coaching change to Chi-Town, and Matt Nagy’s system resulted in a slightly reduced workload for Howard, but he just didn’t fit the system.

Rushing
Receiving
Fumbles
Year
Team
G
GS
Att
Yds
Avg
Lng
TD
Rec
Yds
Avg
Lng
TD
FUM
Lost
2016
Chicago Bears
15
13
252
1,313
5.2
69
6
29
298
10.3
34
1
2
1
2017
Chicago Bears
16
16
276
1,122
4.1
53
9
23
125
5.4
12
0
1
1
2018
Chicago Bears
16
15
250
935
3.7
42
9
20
145
7.3
18
0
2
1
Total
778
3,370
4.3
69
24
72
568
7.9
34
1
5
3

Last year, Howard faced eight-man boxes on 18.4 percent of his carries, averaging just 1.6 yards per tote. He carried it 55.2 percent of the time out of shotgun (4.2 yards per carry), faring far better than from under center (3.1 YPC).

Howard struggled to generate yardage of his own in 2018, ranking only 39th among qualified backs. Chicago played with a lead more frequently than all but one team, which would have made his utilization even more curious in most any other situation … square peg, round hole.

Philadelphia’s personnel

The Jay Ajayi experiment was a crash-and-burn for the most part, and he’s currently an unsigned free agent coming off of a major injury. Darren Sproles is long in the tooth and also remains on the market. Given his situational value, he could return. Howard is a direct replacement for Ajayi’s role between the hashes, on clear running downs, and around the stripe.

Josh Adams attempted to replace Ajayi last year and looked the part in limited dosages; he’s more of a depth player than a featured option. The same can be said for Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement, both of whom have flashed at times but are more or less complementary fill-ins. They should vie for third-down and change-of-pace touches. Howard can catch, but he’s not adept at it.

The offensive line returns intact, and Carson Wentz is expected to be 100 percent well ahead of Week 1. Wideout DeSean Jackson comes back to town to help the long-ball game, and an aggressive passing attack should help clear clutter around the line of scrimmage.

Fantasy football takeaway

Howard’s inefficiency is of concern, and he’ll go from being mostly the workhorse his first two years in Chicago to seeing another committee approach. He’s only 24 years old until Nov. 2 and should see enough action to find his way into conventional starting lineups most weeks. He could flirt with being an RB2 but is more safely a third back with a smidge of upside based on his nose for the end zone.

Howard probably comes off of the draft board somewhere in the first four or five rounds in just about any format, given the positional scarcity and the potential for a strong year in Philadelphia. The Eagles desperately need to take pressure off of Wentz and keep him healthy. Howard should be an important cog in that game plan.

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