Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly's offense potentially got even more prolific Thursday.
They added running back/returner Darren Sproles to an already talented lineup by working a trade with New Orleans. In exchange for Sproles, they sent the Saints a fifth-round pick in the upcoming NFL draft that they acquired last season when they traded nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga to New England.
"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 Eagles also gained more depth in their secondary on Thursday, when they signed former Miami cornerback Nolan Carroll to a two-year contract believed to be worth $5.2 million.
Like Carroll, Sproles had expected to become a free agent this offseason. Once it became clear he wasn't in the Saints' plans he asked the team to release him rather than trade him.
The Saints initially agreed, then changed their minds earlier this week. Sproles found out about it via Twitter on Tuesday, when he read a message from @ESPNNFL that read, "Saints now plan to trade RB Darren Sproles due to heavy interest. He will not be released."
His wife, Michel Sproles, voiced her frustration with the situation on Instagram in a rant that has since been deleted.
"I am so disappointed in the Saints organization & the way they are treating my husband," she wrote on Tuesday. "I understand this is a brutal business but when u have a good guy who works hard & does a lot for the community, u think they would show a little more respect."
Sproles would seem to be a great fit with the Eagles because of his versatility. The 5-foot-6, 190-pounder has proven to be an electrifying player during an eight-year NFL career with San Diego (2006-10) and New Orleans (2011-13). He has lined up at running back and wide receiver on offense and is a dangerous punt and kickoff returner.
The 30-year-old will join Bryce Brown and Chris Polk to provide Pro Bowl running back LeSean McCoy with some much-needed breaks. McCoy led the NFL in rushing with a franchise-record 1,607 yards last season, but also led the league with 314 carries (19.3 carries per game).
He joins McCoy, quarterback Nick Foles, wide receivers DeSean Jackson, Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin, and tight ends Brent Celek and Zach Ertz as part of an offense that produced a franchise-record 442 points last season.
"Darren Sproles is an unbelievable offensive weapon," Kelly said Thursday 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."
In his eight seasons, Sproles 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).
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 started 12 games and had three interceptions, two sacks and 11 pass defenses to go with 47 tackles for the Dolphins.
He appeared in 58 games for the Dolphins in four seasons, notching 135 tackles, five interceptions and three sacks.
Carroll should vie for playing time with cornerbacks Bradley Fletcher, Cary Williams and Brandon Boykin. He should also be a solid contributor on special teams, along with two other newcomers: safety Chris Maragos and linebacker Bryan Braman.
"Nolan is a guy we have studied for a while and the thing you see is his size, speed and press (coverage) ability," Roseman said Thursday in a statement. "He will add depth to a cornerback group we already feel good about. You can never have enough big, long corners on a football team. He's also a player that has proven to be a productive gunner on special teams. We're excited to add him to our team."
Sproles and Carroll were among five players the Eagles acquired in a three-day span, having signed Jenkins on Tuesday, then adding Maragos and Braman on Wednesday.
Earlier, they re-signed Cooper, Maclin and punter Donnie Jones. They also signed tackle Jason Peters and center Jason Kelce to long-term extensions.
They were believed to be in the running for cornerback Darrelle Revis, who was released by Tampa Bay on Wednesday, but Revis signed with New England on Thursday.
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