Former Eagles RB Miles Sanders Reportedly Reaches 4-Year, $25M Contract with Panthers

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVMarch 15, 2023

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 04: Miles Sanders #26 of the Philadelphia Eagles looks on during the second half of the game against the Tennessee Titans at Lincoln Financial Field on December 4, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Miles Sanders' time with the Philadelphia Eagles is reportedly over.

According to ESPN's David Newton, Sanders has agreed to a four-year, $25 million contract with the Carolina Panthers.

The deal was first reported by ESPN's Jeremy Fowler.

Sanders had alluded to his departure on the second day of the NFL's legal tampering period:

Miles Sanders @BoobieMilesXXIV

To the city of Philadelphia Thank You from the bottom of my heart. 🫶🏾

Quarterback Jalen Hurts understandably drew a lot of praise last season as he put together an MVP-caliber resume. But Sanders had a role in Philly's potent offensive attack as well after putting together his best-ever season on the ground.

As a rookie, Sanders ran for 818 yards while catching 50 passes for 509 yards and three touchdowns. In 2022, he was utilized almost exclusively as a running option, getting targeted only 26 times.

While the 2019 second-round pick didn't offer much as a pass-catcher, he made up for it by finishing fifth in the NFL in rushing yards (1,269) and finding the end zone a career-high 11 times on the ground. Football Outsiders ranked him third in DYAR (defense-adjusted yards above replacement) among backs with at least 100 carries.

Sanders' performance tailed off a bit during his team's run to Super Bowl LVII. He opened with 90 yards in a divisional-round win over the New York Giants before running for 42 yards and two scores in the NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers. In the Super Bowl, however, he carried the ball seven times for only 16 yards.

Free agency provided an obvious motivator for Sanders, but he told The Athletic's Dan Pompei in January he wanted to prove a larger point this year.

"A switch flipped in my head," he said. "It was time to let everybody in this league feel me and know who Miles Sanders is."

The results of Sanders' grueling offseason workouts—one involved training on a steep hill at Frick Park in Pittsburgh—were readily apparent.

"I really felt he had a different mindset," Eagles running backs coach Jemal Singleton said to Pompei. "His body looked leaner and thicker."

Signing running backs to their second contracts always carries a level of risk because of how quickly even the best at the position can fall off. In the case of Sanders, the danger is less about how much he might decline over the next few years and instead how much his overall value might have been inflated by his 2022 production.

Life is a little easier in the backfield when opposing defenses have to account for Hurts, A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert. Philadelphia had arguably the best offensive line in the league as well, one that included three Pro Bowlers (Lane Johnson, Landon Dickerson and Jason Kelce).

The Eagles also have to account for Hurts hitting the open market in 2024. Spotrac valued the Pro Bowl quarterback at $265.4 million over six years. After his dynamic showing in the Super Bowl, it's only a matter of time before he receives his massive payday.

General manager Howie Roseman had to weigh whether the added financial burden of re-signing Sanders and the salary-cap implications moving forward was worth what he provides on the field.

Philadelphia has already gone about replacing Sanders, agreeing to a one-year deal with former Seattle Seahawks running back Rashaad Penny. After Sanders worked so hard to silence his skeptics last offseason, that might put another chip on his shoulder in 2023 as he joins the Panthers.