Philadelphia Eagles: The second time’s the charm for Frank Gore

(Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images) /

After five long years apart, the timing may finally be right for the Philadelphia Eagles to take a second chance at signing Frank Gore.

Frank Gore is a Philadelphia Eagles legend.

No, technically Gore never played a game in midnight green – at least not yet – but he did agree to a deal with the team in March of 2017, only to have second thoughts and instead sign a three-year deal with the Indianapolis Colts.

Now, had the then-32-year-old running back opted to join up with Chip Kelly and company we may not have had to suffer through a truly bizarre season of post-Dallas Cowboys DeMarco Murray and pre-injury Ryan Mathews, but after five years, I think we can collectively let that go.

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And in a weird twist of fate, Gore has outlasted both Murray and Mathews in an admirable effort to play an NFL season alongside his son.

Now on paper, adding a soon-to-be-37-year-old with 235 games of NFL experience is pretty much the antithesis of what Howie Roseman should be targeting in free agency. The Birds tried that last season and we all know how that went.

Fortunately, Gore isn’t your typical soon-to-be-37-year-old veteran.

Since going 65th overall in the 2005(!) NFL Draft to the San Francisco 49ers, Gore has averaged 4.2 yards per carry. While that number has gone up and down from season to season, with it topping off at 5.4 in 2006 and bottoming out at 3.6 in 2019, that sort of consistency is virtually unprecedented in NFL history over a 15-year career.

To be fair, there aren’t a ton of NFL running backs who have had 15-year careers regardless, but I digress.

Even with his career winding down and his days as a bell-cow rusher having long since passed, Gore still made an impact for the Buffalo Bills in 2019 as a part-time player – rushing for 599 yards and two touchdowns on 10.4 attempts a game.

That isn’t going to break any records, but it’s pretty good.

Based on his production alone, there is an easily identifiable role for Gore in the Eagles’ offense. After moving on from LeGarrette Blount in 2018, Josh Adams in 2019, and Jay Ajayi in both 2018 and 2019, the Eagles enter 2020 with only one power rusher on their roster in late-season practice squad signee Elijah Holyfield. If given 15 or so snaps a game, Gore could come in, help move the chains, and provide solid pass protection for Carson Wentz.

But production isn’t the only reason Gore should be an option in 2020. No, when you look back at Gore’s career since spurning the Birds half a decade ago, he’s left a solid legacy in his wake.

After spending two seasons as the Colts’ unquestioned top rusher, Gore helped to transform Marlon Mack into one of the league’s more exciting young rushers. From there, Gore signed with Miami and played alongside eventual 2019 Arizona Cardinals breakout star Kenyan Drake. Heck, even when Gore signed up with the Bills to serve as a stopgap replacement for LeSean McCoy in 2019, he helped to usher in the Devin Singletary-era in Buffalo.

Is Gore the common thread in each of these players’ developments? Who’s to say. But with a pair of young, ascending stars on the roster in Miles Sanders and Boston Scott, why not add a grizzled veteran who can help the duo grow as opposed to another 22-year-old draftee with a similar skill set?

The Eagles are slowly but surely transitioning away from the bruising zone scheme that won them a Super Bowl towards a more nuanced, dynamic running game, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t use a little extra power between the tackles. Gore isn’t much of a pass catcher, or a particularly deadly player in space, but he can keep those power concepts alive when the team wants to move the chains and keep the clock moving.

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With Darren Sproles officially retired, there is a clear role for Frank Gore both on and off the field with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2020. Fortunately, Philly fans may finally get some use out of their long-closeted Frank Gore Eagles jerseys after all.