Can Eagles keep Miles Sanders from pricing himself out of Philly after a career game?

PHILADELPHIA — It's possible that at some point next spring, Miles Sanders will take that lucrative free agent contract offer and leave the Philadelphia Eagles — as much as he won't want to.

Sure, there is a long way to go and plenty can still happen, both on the field and off.

But if we have learned anything from Eagles general manager Howie Roseman, it's that the Eagles won't overspend for a running back on a second contract, no matter how well he's playing.

And few running backs in the NFL are playing as well as Sanders.

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Sanders had a career-high 134 yards rushing on a career-high 27 carries in the Eagles' 29-21 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. He ran over, past and around beleaguered Jaguars defenders.

And Sanders did it with everyone in Lincoln Financial Field knowing that he was going to get the ball often. The conditions were brutal as the game was played in a driving rainstorm and 28-mph wind gusts. That made passing the football an adventure, to say the least.

Still, the Jaguars still couldn't stop Sanders, who currently ranks third in the NFL with 356 yards rushing. He's on pace for 1,513 yards for the season. That would rank second in Eagles' history, behind only LeSean McCoy's 1,607 yards in 2013.

Philadelphia Eagles' Miles Sanders runs with the ball during the second half of an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia Eagles' Miles Sanders runs with the ball during the second half of an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, in Philadelphia.

And yet, the reason why Sanders might want to stay, even if it's for less money, was evident in his response when asked about his career day.

"Definitely getting in the groove," Sanders said. "My job is to be ready whenever they call my number. Whenever they call my number, I’m going to be ready, regardless. With the weather being the way it was, we leaned on our offensive line, and our offensive line had a heck of a game.”

In other words, even Sanders knows the grass is not always greener on the other side.

Sanders would be hard-pressed to find a new team with a better offensive line than the Eagles, both in talent and in depth. That was evident Sunday as the Eagles dominated the Jaguars' front-seven even though Jacksonville came into the game as the stingiest run defense in the NFL, allowing an average of 55 yards rushing per game.

The Eagles more than doubled that in the first half. In all, the Eagles had 210 yards rushing.

And that was with left tackle Jordan Mailata leaving the game after the first series, which ended in Jalen Hurts' pick-six. Mailata was replaced by Jack Driscoll, who last played left tackle as a sophomore at UMass in 2016. Later, right guard Isaac Seumalo left with an ankle injury and was replaced by Sua Opeta.

The Eagles ran more, not less, without Mailata and Seumalo. They still had All-Pro center Jason Kelce and star right tackle Lane Johnson, not to mention budding star Landon Dickerson at left guard.

"What you really want when a backup comes in, is you want to not have to change your entire offense up to mask a weakness," Kelce said. "I thought both of those guys went in there and did phenomenal. … So (for Driscoll) to be able to go out there and play left tackle against a good front, 1-on-1 for much of the game, and move guys around in the run game, he’s probably, in my opinion, the player of the game."

Sanders would also be hard-pressed to find a quarterback who can do more for him in the running game than Hurts.

Defenses have to account for Hurts as a runner, who's second among NFL quarterbacks with 205 yards rushing. That also creates lanes for Sanders.

That, too, was evident Sunday. Hurts didn't have a great rushing game, gaining 38 yards on 16 carries. But on the run-pass options, when Hurts hands off inside to Sanders, then runs to the outside, a defender has to follow Hurts. That was the case on Sanders' 35-yard run up the middle to midfield late in the third quarter.

That eventually led to a field goal that gave the Eagles' a nine-point cushion early in the fourth quarter.

“He played angry, in my opinion," Hurts said. "He played with a purpose. He deserves it. He had a hell of a game."

By now, we're well aware of everything that has held Sanders back in the past, namely the injuries that kept him out of nine games the last two seasons, and the tendency to run east and west rather than north and south.

There are also a lot of mouths to feed for an offense with three star receivers in A.J. Brown, third in the NFL with 404 receiving yards, DeVonta Smith and tight end Dallas Goedert. That's in addition to Hurts running the ball.

The Eagles are the seventh team since 1970 to start a season 4-0 with at least 400 yards of offense in each game.

Maybe on another team, Sanders would be a more featured part of the offense, something that hasn't really been the case in his previous three seasons with the Eagles.

That question was still evident in the summer when both Sanders and head coach Nick Sirianni scoffed after a reporter noted that Sanders was with the second unit during a day in training camp.

Sirianni couldn't resist referencing that after the game.

"Miles Sanders is our No.1 back," he said. "There is no question about it."

Then Sirianni heaped credit on the offensive line. "I’ll take them over anybody in this league. I love that group. They are gritty. They are grimy. They are tough. They are physical."

And for Sanders, it's hard to find a better situation. If the Eagles keep winning and Sanders keeps running like this, it'll be even harder to find a better situation.

This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: Is Eagles' Miles Sanders pricing himself out of new deal in Philly?