It’s time to bring Raheem Mostert back to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Raheem Mostert has one of the weirdest careers in the NFL right now.
He’s a 28-year-old running back who played for five teams over his five-year NFL career and has only amassed a little over 1,274 yards as a pro. He’s undersized by any standard (5-foot-10, 197 pounds), a seldom-utilized receiving option (20 career catches), and even his best career yards-per-game (48.3) leaves a ton to be desired.
And yet, the seven-time waived rusher may very well be the most in-demand trade target in the entire NFL, with seemingly a dozen potential suitors regardless of their situation.
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Why? Because Mostert is one of the better return men in the NFL, an underutilized asset with very little tread on his tires, and an intriguing offensive option to boot.
Since breaking into the NFL as a UDFA out of Purdue, ironically enough signed to a three-year deal by then-Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly in his lone season in charge of player personnel, change has been the only constant for Mostert. Regardless of whether he was tasked with filling a return-only role with the Browns, Dolphins, and Ravens as a rookie, Mostert consistently found a way to impact the game, picking up a combined 530 yards on 19 returns as a rookie for an impressive 27.9 yards-per-return average – the fifth-highest mark in the NFL that season.
But just because Mostert wasn’t utilized on the offensive side of the ball much over the first four years of his professional career – 48 offensive touches combined – doesn’t mean he didn’t remain ready for his next opportunity to shine on the offensive side of the ball – far from it, in fact.
You see, in 2019, the San Francisco 49ers were in a tough spot. They’d just signed ex-Atlanta Falcons third-round pick Tevin Coleman to a two-year, $10 million contract but in Week 1, he suffered a high ankle sprain after only six carries, with his short-term future very much in flux. Sure, the Niners still had Matt Breida, one of the fastest running backs in the NFL, but no team in 2019 can roll with one running back alone. So despite (presumably) a bit of internal hesitation, Kyle Shannahan folded Mostert into his offensive gameplan, nearly doubled his career rushing attempts from Week 1-4, and in the weirdest twist of all, it actually worked. Mostert picked up 236 yards, lead the 49ers in rushing yards over that one-month tenure, and finished out the season tied for the most rushing attempts on the team at 137, for the most yards at 772, and the most touchdowns by a non-quarterback with eight.
You’d think this would be too good to be true for Mostert. After toiling away as an afterthought thrown around the league for the better part of half a decade, he finally found a home, and actually lead an NFL team in rushing. He never even led the Boilermakers in rushing from 2011-14.
According to Ian Rapoport, Mostert has officially requested a trade after failing to negotiate a new contract with the 49ers in the same vein as Coleman at roughly $4.55 million a year.
Hmmm. Well, if that’s the case, why not bring Mostert back where it all began and trade him back to Philly?
Think about it, the Eagles didn’t add a running back in free agency despite showing interest in both Carlos Hyde and Devonta Freeman, failed to select a rusher with any of their 10 draft picks, and added a UDFA rookie with a relatively similar skill set in Adrian Killins. I know $5 million is a tad more than the team was looking to pay for a backup running back, but at this point, beggars can’t be choosers, right? Especially with no sure thing kick or punt returner on the roster right now.
His old number, 48, is still available too. Talk about serendipity.
While some may consider Mostert rather superfluous with Boston Scott set to take on an expanded role this fall, I really don’t see it that way. Sure, both Scott and Mostert are sub-6-foot rushers who can be utilized both in the run and pass game, but the former plays much more like a thicker Darren Sproles, whereas Raheem ironically enough has a relatively straight forward, one-cut style both between the tackle and when kicking the ball outside.
Whether running from a single back set, deployed out of the shotgun, or paired up with the best fullback in the game, Kyle Juszczyk, Mostert has found surprising success as a between the tackles trucker, capable of powering through traffic to pick up an average of 2.2. yards after contact per rush.
2.2 yards after contact doesn’t seem like a lot, but it’s more than both Sanders and Scott averaged in 2019.
Mostert is also a capable gunner on special teams, forcing two fumbles ad logging a team-leading 11 tackles on 201 special teams snaps – a task that may be a tad unnecessary depending on his offensive snap count but one that is valuable none the less.
Assuming the 49ers actually want to make a trade, which is far from a guarantee, and their asking price isn’t exorbitant, there aren’t too many downsides to acquiring Mostert before the season picks up, even if it’ll all but certainly require a renegotiated contract to get the deal done. Who knows, maybe after failing to land a cornerback in the 2020 NFL draft, the Niners would have some interest renewed interest in acquiring Rasul Douglas, and surrender Mostert as compensation for his services?
A player with Mostert’s set of skills is valuable in the NFL but not quite as valuable as a CB2 across from Richard Sherman. If the 49ers are that high on Douglas it’s much safer trade for him now than to risk losing him in free agency.
And as for the Philadelphia Eagles? Well, sometimes a hypothetical trade just feels right. After erroneously allowing Raheem Mostert to make his NFL debut elsewhere almost five years ago, Howie Roseman has a chance to make right another one of Chip Kelly’s mistakes and fill his team’s vacant backup running back position (and return man role) with a familiar face from years ago. What more could you ask for?