Philadelphia Eagles: Trading for Jay Ajayi looks like a stroke of genius

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

On this the one-year anniversary of the 2017 NFL trade deadline, let’s take a look back at the Philadelphia Eagles genius trade for Jay Ajayi.

Are 14 games, six starts, and 777 total rushing yards worth a fourth-round pick?

For the Philadelphia Eagles, not only was that production worthy of said fourth-round pick, but it very well may have changed the perception and trajectory of the franchise for the foreseeable future.

Though he may have played his final snap in midnight green after tearing his ACL in Week 5, Howie Roseman‘s decision to flip a 2017 fourth round pick for a third year running back with ‘behavior issues’ was without a doubt the pivotal move of the 2017 season, and all but single-handedly gave the team that final push for postseason success.

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Trading for Jay Ajayi one year ago today was an absolute stroke of genius.

Now don’t get me wrong, the move wasn’t considered a bad one when it was initially made, as Miami was almost universally questioned for moving on from their lead back for such a meager return, but at the time, the Eagles were a middle-of-the-pack team in search of a more balanced offensive attack to pair with their on-a-roll sophomore quarterback, not a team considered a Super Bowl favorite many folks outside of the City of Brotherly Love.

But once he came to town, everything changed for the Birds.

Fielding a three-headed monster in their offensive backfield with Ajayi, LeGarrette Blount, and Corey Clement all earning significant snaps, the Eagles vaulted to the third-best rushing attack in the entire nation, even after Darren Sproles went down with a season-ending injury in Week 3.

It was this balanced attack, maybe more so than anything else, that helped the Eagles weather the storm of losing their starting quarterback in a pivotal victory over the Los Angeles Rams, and by extension a significant reason why Nick Foles looked like a player potentially worthy of a first round pick in a post-season trade.

But more importantly, had the team not shipped their fourth-round pick, which Miami eventually used to select Arizona State rusher Kalen Ballage 131st overall, to bring Ajayi into the fold, it’s entirely possible that Philly fans may still be waiting(not so) patiently for their favorite team to finally win their first-ever Lombardi Trophy.

That moment alone certainly meant the world to many fans in the Delaware Valley, making that fourth-round pick all the more insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

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And now, one year later, the Eagles are once again in the hunt for a spot in the playoffs, with Golden Tate serving as the team’s midseason addition meant to turn the franchise’s luck around. Will his addition have as big of an impact on the team’s fortunes as the J-Train did before him? Only time will tell, but after less than one season in Philly, it’s pretty safe to say Eagles fans will never forget Jay Ajayi and the part he played in the team’s first ever Super Bowl championship victory.