No, not this season. But with Miles Sanders due for a contract after next season that will be expected to command some serious dough, could Gainwell be a low-cost alternative to making the same mistake that the Falcons and Rams made with Devonta Freeman and Todd Gurley? Let’s take a look:
Kenny G was electric in college. A dual-threat RB who provides value both as a runner and a receiver, his speed (4.44 40 at the combine) and vision allow him to dance around defenders and find holes that a majority of RB’s would never have open.
Preseason isn’t always indicative of success during the regular season, but for a rookie football IQ and instincts are some of the most valuable attributes necessary for success as a rookie. Fortunately for Philly, those are both areas that Gainwell excels in.
In the preseason, Gainwell caught 9/11 passes for 66 yards (7.3 YPC) and had 12 carries for 67 yards (5.6 YPC). That type of versatility opposite of Miles Sanders was sorely lacking in the Eagles offense last year and Gainwell’s skillset could provide the thunder & lightning that first-year Head Coach Nick Sirianni needs to have success.
Now, the question I pose in the headline: Could Gainwell be an option for the Eagles to eventually replace Miles Sanders? In my opinion, the answer is YES – but not by himself. As mentioned earlier with Gurley and Freeman, giving out large contracts to running backs has proved absolutely devastating to teams in the past. Sanders is eligible for an extension after this season and his performance in his career thus far deserves that, but the Eagles are not in a position to dish out huge sums of money to a luxury position
Gainwell might be a fifth-rounder out of an AAC school (Memphis), but the past few seasons have been full of smaller-school, later-round running backs who have been able to make an impact far greater than their draft positions.
I am a Miles Sanders fan and obviously Gainwell has yet to prove he is capable of handling any sort of load as an NFL running back, but given the past few running back contracts given out and Kenny G’s ability to electrify an offense (albeit in preseason), he could develop into a cost-effective alternative to Miles Sanders when the time is right.
We’re 11 days away from kickoff in Atlanta. It’s going to be a helluva season. Go Birds.