Eagles running back Darren Sproles has been a key piece of the team's offense and special teams over the last two seasons. But so far, the 32-year-old has been a no-show for Philadelphia's offseason program.
He's skipped minicamp, and has yet to show up at OTAs — though both are voluntary and also being skipped by Fletcher Cox.
According to many NFL insiders, it is reason for concern.
#Eagles received calls of trade interest for RB Darren Sproles mid-draft, sources said. He's staying away from OTAs until its sorted out— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 17, 2016
According to Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, and Sproles himself, there is no reason for concern.
The running back responded a few times on Twitter to the rumors swirling around his absence — and to the reported trade offers.
I'm holding out because I want a long term deal 😂😂😂😂😂 who's telling these people there information— Darren Sproles (@DarrenSproles) May 19, 2016
Totally False— Darren Sproles (@DarrenSproles) May 19, 2016
"He and I are in direct communication," Pederson told the media last Tuesday at OTAs."We have been talking all offseason and I have no issues with Darren. I fully expect him to be here for the mandatory camp. But again, this is a voluntary program, so I can't fault him for [not] being here."
Pederson, more or less, dispelled trade rumors and said the aging running back has a right to spend time with his family during the offseason.
"I think where he is in his career, I've been there before, too, where sometimes you want that break," the coach said."I know with him and his family being apart during the season, this is a time for him to really spend quality time with the family, and he knows what it takes to get himself ready to go and I fully expect him to be here in a couple weeks."
He better be here in a couple weeks. Without Sproles, the Eagles are a bit thin at running back, with Ryan Mathews slated to be the starter and rookie Wendell Smallwood and Kenjon Barner — in theory — battling for the third RB slot.
Players are required to report to a mandatory minicampin South Philly when it starts on June 7.