San Diego RB Darren Sproles is ticketed for free agency this year, and there are already reports of one team, the Dolphins, being interested in his services. Last year, before San Diego reversed course and tendered him an RFA offer, the St. Louis Rams scheduled a visit with Sproles, part of their ongoing attempt to find a complementary back to pair with Steven Jackson. On the market again, it's worth asking if Sproles is still a fit for the St. Louis Rams.
The Rams needed another running back before they declined to tender Kenneth Darby an offer. Now, they definitely need another running back. Sproles fits the profile for what many Rams watchers believe is a perfect complement to Jackson. St. Louis has already visited with a number of similar backs available in the 2011 NFL Draft, including Kendall Hunter, DeMarco Murray, Derrick Locke, etc.
Sproles turns 28 this summer. His resume speaks for itself. The biggest questions is just how much mileage is left on that 5'6" 185 lbs frame. After 93 carries in 2009, Sproles had just 51 rushing attempts last year for 270 yards and an impressive 5.3 yards per carry. He had his busiest year yet as a receiver, catching 59 passes for 520 yards, 2 TDs and an average of 8.8 yards per reception. Sproles also continued to return punts and kicks, something the Rams would surely have him do as well.
Great teams build through the draft, but it still requires smart free agent moves. Sproles' numbers looked good last year, but, to state the obvious, he'll be reaching his decline phase much sooner than a draft pick. It's also worth mentioning that this draft, while lacking in complete running backs, has plenty of options for players similar to Sproles. Sproles' advantage is that he's a proven commodity who comes from an offense very similar to the ones Josh McDaniels has run.