Philadelphia Eagles: Jay Ajayi just can’t catch a break

(Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) /

After being unceremoniously released by the Philadelphia Eagles after a seldom-used stint with the team, it’s safe to wonder if Jay Ajayi’s NFL career is over.

When the Philadelphia Eagles re-signed Jay Ajayi earlier this season, they included an intriguing clause to his otherwise normal veteran minimum deal.

While none of the money was guaranteed, a usual plight for a player signed midseason, Howie Roseman did include a clause that gave the Birds a chance to match any deal Ajayi signed in free agency.

To some, this seemed like a sign that Jordan Howard was no longer in line for a long-term contract extension, but as these things so often go, maybe, just maybe, we read a little too much into Roseman’s contract wizardry.

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Why? Because going into Week 17, Howard is set to return to the field for the first time since Week 9, and Ajayi is officially unemployed; released before the start of Monday Night Football.

But really, should we be surprised?

Over Ajayi’s five-game tenure with the Eagles in 2019, the 26-year-old back earned a grand total of 10 carries for 30 yards on 21 offensive snaps. Despite being back to full strength, Ajayi’s carries dropped from six in Week 12, to four in Weeks 13/14 combined, to a pair of straight goose eggs over the last two weeks.

Maybe it’s the emergence of Miles Sanders as a legit number one rusher, or Boston Scott‘s emergence as a legit heir to Darren Sproles, but what never quite emerged was a legit role for Ajayi in the Eagles’ injury-dampened offensive plan.

And quite possibly worst of all, Ajayi didn’t even get anything out of his tenure with the team.

Ok, technically Ajayi earned a little over $100,000 for his time, but are teams seriously going to line up to sign a 27-year-old running back with a long history of injury concerns who couldn’t even break into Duce Staley‘s rotation despite Howard’s injury? Probably not.

No, the sheer fact that the Eagles, who typically deploy a power rusher between the tackles, opted to redesign their running game as opposed to giving Ajayi a chance to get things going on the ground speaks volumes for how the team valued their Super Bowl champion back.

Could 2019 mark the end of Ajayi’s professional career?

I hope not.

While it may seem like distant history now, Ajayi’s addition at the 2017 trade deadline was considered a major boon for a team on the cusp. Sure, he complained a little bit about his role early on, but once Ajayi settled in, he swiftly surpassed LeGarrette Blount as the team’s top option in the backfield – creating a thunder and thunder one-two punch with a Corey Clement chaser that set the postseason by storm.

Without Ajayi’s aggressive style of play, the Birds may not have beat the Minnesota Vikings in the 2017 playoffs. Without Ajayi, the Birds may not be champions.

And because of the Eagles, Ajayi’s professional career may be over.

Next. Fletcher Cox (finally) finds a way to save the season. dark

Ultimately, I do not believe the Philadelphia Eagles purposely did Jay Ajayi dirty or attempted to hurt his career in any way, but by signing him to a contract midway through the 2019 season only to not use him and then unceremoniously release him in favor of Jordan Howard, it certainly hurt his career prospects moving forward. This is the part of sports that isn’t all that fun.