We did that short story Wednesday about Miles Sanders saying he wants to remain an Eagle, and this was a good response from @KevBarDMV on Twitter:

That’s more or less the gist here. It’s not some overwhelming anti-Miles Sanders sentiment coming from Eagles fans and media, it’s the reality of the situation in 2023. Most teams just don’t spend big money on running backs. The Birds certainly have not. They’ve always chosen to restock in the middle rounds of the draft and then add free agents in the summer, or make a mid-season acquisition.

When you look through the salary logs, Sanders made about $5.3 million total on his rookie deal, which crested with a $1.7 million cap hit this past season. The highest-paid running back in the NFL is Christian McCaffrey, at $11.8 million, then from there the top earners (per Spotrac) are:

  • Zeke Elliott and Nick Chubb – $10.9 million
  • Derrick Henry – $10.5 million
  • Dalvin Cook – $10.4 million
  • Alvin Kamara and Joe Mixon – $9.4 million
  • Leonard Fournette – $6.5 million
  • James Conner and Austin Ekeler – $6.2 million

The Zeke contract is gross, isn’t it? But look at the rest of the list and you have guys who are either usage-heavy lead backs or dual-threat pass catchers. Austin Ekeler is worth every bit of that $6.2 million, and more. Same with Kamara. McCaffrey will earn all of that money if he stays healthy in Kyle Shanahan’s offense.

The fact of the matter is that only 11 NFL running backs are set to earn more than $5 million dollars in 2023, as of right now. Saquon Barkley and Josh Jacobs are currently free agents, so the number will increase, but that’s still not a lot of guys, which proves that this is not just an Eagles philosophy. Most teams simply are not dedicating significant cap space to running backs, because this remains a passing league.

That’s why the Eagles aren’t going to pay Miles Sanders because 1) he’s not Austin Ekeler or Alvin Kamara and 2) because they need to pay Jalen Hurts, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, and whomever else they prioritize on a long list of free agents. Sanders is a steady ball carrier, but I think we all know that most running backs were going for 1,000 yards on this 2022 Birds team. You know it and I know it.

We can talk separately about whether Bijan Robinson makes sense with the 10th overall draft pick, but knowing how the Birds operate, they’ll roll with Kenneth Gainwell and maybe give Boston Scott a new contract, then go for a 3rd or 4th round back and/or pursue someone like D’Onta Foreman in free agency. For Sanders, he could certainly take a home town discount, but if there’s money to be made elsewhere, he should absolutely do it, because this will be his second contract and running backs don’t have long careers. The smart thing for him would be to go elsewhere and secure the bag, and nobody would think any less of him for doing that.