The Eagles made their biggest offseason splash on Thursday, trading for New Orleans running back/returner Darren Sproles and signing Miami cornerback Nolan Carroll to a two-year contract believe to be worth $5.2 million.
In exchange for Sproles, the Eagles sent the Saints a fifth-round pick in the upcoming NFL draft. The Eagles had acquired that pick from New England last season after trading nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga to the Patriots.
"Darren Sproles is an unbelievable offensive weapon," Eagles coach Chip Kelly said in a statement. "He can do it all, run, catch, plus he's a proven winner. And on top of that, he can bring all of those dynamic skills to the return game as well. There is no question we were all excited once we found out we were going to be able to trade for him."
Sproles, who spent the last three seasons with the Saints after a five-year stint with San Diego, had asked the Saints to release him rather than trade him. They initially agreed, but apparently changed their mind earlier in the week. According to Sproles' wife, Michel, he found out about the change via Twitter.
"Darren is a player that we have admired for many years," Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said in a statement. "He's such a dangerous back and he's a great piece to add to our offense and to our special teams. We spent a considerable time in order to try to make this happen and we were very happy to get a deal done with New Orleans."
The 5-foot-6, 181-pounder has long been regarded as one of the NFL's most versatile players. The 30-year-old has rushed for 2,221 yards and 11 touchdowns, caught 378 passes for 3,381 yards and 27 TDs, and has scored five career touchdowns via punt (three) and kickoff returns (two). Last season, his 71 receptions were fourth among NFL running backs behind Saints teammate Pierre Thomas (77), San Diego's Danny Woodhead (76) and Chicago's Matt Forte (74).
His return statistics were down last season, however. He averaged career lows in both punt returns (6.7 yards) and kickoff returns (21.3) for the Saints, who beat the Eagles in last season's playoffs. His 220 rushing yards were his fewest since 2007.
At the very least, he'll compete with Bryce Brown and Chris Polk for playing time as a backup to Pro Bowler LeSean McCoy. McCoy won the NFL rushing title with a franchise record 1,607 yards, but also had a league-high 314 carries (19.6 carries per game).
Sproles is the second Saints player to join the Eagles this week, following safety Malcolm Jenkins.
Carroll, 27, has the size (6-1, 205 pounds) the Eagles covet in their cornerbacks. Last season, he had three interceptions, two sacks and 11 pass defenses to go with 47 tackles for the Dolphins.
Carroll, who spent four seasons in Miami, should vie for playing time with cornerbacks Bradley Fletcher, Cary Williams and Brandon Boykin.