Sep 30, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Darren Sproles (43) carries the ball in the first quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports
I know the Chargers have bigger needs (offensive line, defensive line, secondary) but this is fun to think about. I miss the “Lightning Bug” as Darren Sproles was affectionately called as a Bolt, not just because of his 5’6″ 190lb. frame, but also because the man could scoot. The return specialist from Kansas State has spent the past 3 seasons with the New Orleans Saints, who, according to a reports, will release Sproles if they can’t trade him (via ESPN’s Mike Triplett).
In 5 seasons with San Diego, Sproles racked up 9,958 all-purpose yards (kick return, punt return, rushing and receiving yards combined). He also had 21 total touchdowns. That’s a lot of production for someone who never really was the starting running back, he always played second fiddle to either LaDanian Tomlinson or the Mike Tolbert/Ryan Mathews tandem in 2010. But who can forget when he went on a rampage against the Colts in the 2009 AFC Wild Card game, collecting 328 all-purpose yards including 105 rushing yards with 2 TDs, one of them being the “walk-off” touchdown to clinch the win in OT? He was productive in LT’s absence due to injury throughout that season. Also, the 2007 game vs. the Colts on Sunday Night, when he had 2 return TDs in the same game. And since he has been with the Saints, he has done much of the same. In 2011, his first year with New Orleans, he even led the NFL in all-purpose yards with 2,696. Last season he had 1,273 all-purpose yards and 4 TDs. He is still very productive.
Only the Jaguars were worse than the Chargers in punt return yardage last year and the Bolts were 26th in kick return yardage. During Sproles’ last season with San Diego, the Chargers were 7th in the NFL in punt return yardage and actually led the NFL in all-purpose yards. Sproles made an impact. San Diego’s special teams really has not been the same since his departure. Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead made good contributions in the return game, but it hasn’t been the same. I’m not saying we should pursue Sproles as our first priority and give him a lucrative deal, but after we sign some needs on the team, if we have some money left, I say we give Sproles a shot, bring him back, for old time’s sake. It sure couldn’t hurt the Chargers’ return game in 2014.