The best franchises in the NFL often use the trade deadline to get tangibly better. Right now, the Philadelphia Eagles are establishing themselves as one of the top teams in the league, and they were active. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported that Philadelphia acquired Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick. This is a huge addition to a team that is already the class of the NFC, with a superb 7-1 record. Despite the Eagles having the fifth-best rushing attack in the NFL at 129.2 yards per game, they were without a true feature back. LeGarrette Blount leads the team in rushing, but has been inconsistent at times. Ajayi makes this offense even more multi-dimensional.
It’s clear that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz is special, and a clear MVP candidate at the season’s halfway point. Wentz is tied for the league lead in touchdown passes, and he’s clearly the number one option in Philly’s offense for the foreseeable future. Nonetheless, it’s always a focus for teams to have balance going toward the playoff push as the weather gets colder, and Ajayi should provide that and more.
Although Ajayi has not had a great year with the Miami Dolphins to this point, he should have more production with a better Eagles offense. Ajayi has faced even more of a loaded box this year with the Dolphins having awful quarterback play, and he’ll have more holes open up with Philadelphia.
To this point, Ajayi is only averaging 3.4 yards per carry, and he has not found the endzone. That being said, he is a multi-dimensional player that is a gifted runner and receiver out of the backfield. Last year, he was fourth in the league in rushing yards (courtesy of Pro Football Reference). He had some monster games in 2016. Ajayi was just the fourth player in the Super Bowl era to have back-to-back 200-yard rushing games, according to ESPN Stats & Information Research.
The Eagles offense is much better around him, and Ajayi will be a huge upgrade over LeGarrette Blount as the number one running back. Philadelphia’s offensive line has great athletes Ajayi will be running behind, especially right tackle Lane Johnson, and that will allow Wentz to be even more lethal in play-action situations. Ajayi handling more of the work will allow Blount to go back to a redzone and short-yardage role, where he is one of the league’s best. Philadelphia’s receiving corps should have more big play opportunities with the threat of Ajayi and Wentz read-option looks as well.
When the Eagles get their points earlier on in games with Wentz’ arm, the running game with Ajayi, Blount, and Wendell Smallwood can end it, as Kevin Patra of NFL.com touched on.
“The addition of Ajayi could help salt games away and preserve victories,” Patra said.
Lastly, Ajayi’s contract is very team-friendly for this season and next season. He is still only on a rookie contract, in which he’ll be making just over $1 million throughout the 2017 and 2018 seasons, according to Spotrac.com.
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