The NFL’s top team upgraded their bullpen ahead of Tuesday’s trade deadline, adding a potential closer.
The Philadelphia Eaglesacquired running back Jay Ajayi from the Miami Dolphins, both teams announced.
Miami receives a 2018 fourth-round draft pick in return.
Ajayi moves to the one-loss Eagles, helping solidify a backfield led by LeGarrette Blount. Before acquiring Ajayi, the Eagles owned the NFL’s fifth-ranked run offense, earning 129.2 yards per game on 30.8 rush attempts per tilt (fourth most).
Ajayi continued his boom-or-bust play this season in Miami. The 24-year-old put up two games with 120-plus yards this season, but was held under 55 yards in four contests.
Ajayi’s final game in Miami was particularly disappointing. Last Thursday against the Baltimore Ravens, the power back dashed for 21 yards on his first attempt of the game. He earned two total yards on 13 carries the rest of the way, including a bevy of negative plays for 1.8 yards per carry average.
After the game, Dolphinscoach Adam Gase criticized the running back without mentioning him by name:
“We’ve got to stop trying to hit home runs all the time,” Gase said. “It’s on the running back. Do your job. It’s not hard to do.”
Gase has criticized his disappointing offense repeatedly this season. Now the Dolphins backed up those stormy words by shipping the workhorse out of town. Damien Williams and Kenyan Drake are the top backs remaining in Miami.
For Ajayi, he goes from carrying a workload to a timeshare with Blount, rookie Corey Clement, and pass-catcher Wendell Smallwood. The Eagles provide a better offensive line than Ajayi ran behind in Miami, so while the carries might dip, his efficiency could rise.
Eagles exec Howie Roseman addressed his now crowded backfield Tuesday afternoon.
“LeGarrette’s been productive when he’s gotten the ball,” Roseman said. “He’s a warrior and he’s a two-time Super Bowl champion, and we’re really glad to have him. I really shouldn’t get into starter roles, that’s really up to the coaches, but we’re counting on LeGarrette here going forward. This is no reflection of any of those running backs, this was a good opportunity for the Philadelphia Eagles to add good players who fit what we do, and we believe that Jay Ajayi does that.”
For Roseman, he made a play for a possible game-sealing closer. Philly owned three fourth-round picks, sending one to Miami to acquire a back they believe could put their offense over the top. With left tackle Jason Petersout, the Eagles struggled to run the ball consistently last week against the 49ers. Blount has been held to three yards per carry in his last two games.
With a surging Carson Wentzin Year 2 and a favorable schedule down the stretch, Philly plans to be leading plenty games late the rest of the season. The addition of Ajayi could help salt games away and preserve victories.
We see playoff teams trade for closers often at the deadline in baseball. The Eagles just made their move for one this year.