Eagles

The interesting wrinkle in Jay Ajayi's contract

The interesting wrinkle in Jay Ajayi's contract

The Eagles on Friday signed running back Jay Ajayi for the rest of the 2019 season, but based on what’s written into the contract, the Eagles will basically have the option to bring him back in 2020. 

Here’s the report from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport: 

So basically, Ajayi will kind of be a restricted free agent at the lowest (right of first refusal) level. That means the Eagles have the option to match a contract and keep the player, but won’t get compensation back if he goes elsewhere like a higher-level tendered player. The Eagles will still be eligible for a compensatory pick if Ajayi signs elsewhere and they don't match the offer. 

This is an interesting wrinkle to Ajayi’s contract, especially in the entire scope of the Eagles’ running back situation. 

Because, remember, Jordan Howard is set to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year. As long as he’s able to return from this stinger soon, he would be a realistic candidate to get an extension before the end of the season. But, to me, this part of Ajayi’s contract is sort of like an insurance policy if the Eagles aren’t able to re-sign Howard during free agency. Or if they choose to move on from Howard. 

The Eagles seem to like having a running back rotation and the only running back guaranteed to return in 2020 is Miles Sanders. Either Howard or a healthy Ajayi (we’ll see) would seemingly be a good complement. 

I say we’ll see because Ajayi hasn’t played football in over a year. He signed on Friday, but Doug Pederson opted to not play him two days later. During his career, Ajayi has been a very productive runner, averaging 4.5 yards per carry. 

But Ajayi, 26, tore his ACL last season and already had long-standing knee issues, so there’s some serious doubt about his football future. Ajayi will have a chance to answer some of those questions in the final six games of the 2019 season. 

“We will incorporate him,” Pederson said on Monday. “Again, if Jordan (Howard) … if he doesn't practice or whatever during the week then we definitely will get Jay ready to go.”

The Eagles at least took out an insurance policy of sorts. If Ajayi does have something left, they’ll have the option of bringing him back in 2020 no matter what other team is interested in him.

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Doug Pederson hoping to mix new face Jay Ajayi into Eagles' running attack

Doug Pederson hoping to mix new face Jay Ajayi into Eagles' running attack

Doug Pederson said he hopes to get recently re-acquired running back Jay Ajayi more involved in the offense as the Eagles head into the stretch run.

Ajayi has eight carries for 25 yards and a 3.1 average in two games since returning to the Eagles following a year layoff. 

A Pro Bowler in 2016 with the Dolphins and a stud down the stretch during the Super Bowl season, Ajayi suffered a torn ACL in Week 5 last year and didn’t play from Oct. 7, 2018, until Nov. 24, 2019, when he made his 2019 debut against the Seahawks.

Ajayi didn't have OTAs or a training camp and didn't even practice until the Wednesday before the Seattle game. 

It's a process with him, but we understand who he is and the injury that he's coming off of, so we're careful with that,” Pederson said. “But at the same time, he's a bigger, powerful guy that we can use in spots.

With Jordan Howard missing the last three games with nerve damage in his shoulder, rookie Miles Sanders has essentially been the entire running attack. But the Eagles are so hesitant to increase his workload significantly that it’s created a situation in which the Eagles just haven’t run the ball very much during their three-game losing streak because they haven’t had a viable second option.

During these last three games, Sanders has 40 carries, Ajayi eight and Boston Scott seven.

This is the first time the Eagles have leaned this heavily on one back in a three-game stretch since 2012. 

During a late-season three-game stretch in which LeSean McCoy was hurt, Bryce Brown got 52 carries and Dion Lewis had four.

The Eagles ran 45 percent of the time in the nine games Howard played and 31 percent since he got hurt. They’re 0-3 without him.

Miles has done a great job,” Pederson said Saturday. “I’d love to get Jay a few more touches and get Boston in the mix so we're not obviously wearing Miles down here this last month of the season.

The current stretch is the first in franchise history that the Eagles have thrown at least 40 times and run the ball 23 or fewer times in three straight games.

Howard hasn’t played since before the bye week and is out for the Eagles’ game Monday night against the Giants. 

Pederson said earlier in the week he doesn’t expect this to be a season-ending injury, but will Howard be able to pick up where he left off after such a long layoff even if he does return?

The Eagles began the season with Howard, Sanders, Corey Clement and Darren Sproles in what looked to be a deep running back rotation. 

Sanders is the only one of that group left. Can Ajayi make a difference after such a long layoff? Sounds like Pederson wants to find out.

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Eagles Injury Update: Latest on Derek Barnett, Nelson Agholor, Jordan Howard

Eagles Injury Update: Latest on Derek Barnett, Nelson Agholor, Jordan Howard

Updated: 3:39 p.m.

Derek Barnett and Nelson Agholor will likely be game-time decisions for Monday Night Football, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said on Saturday morning. 

Barnett (ankle) and Agholor (knee) both missed all three days of practice this week and are listed as questionable.

Meanwhile, linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill is still in the NFL’s concussion protocol. He was just placed in protocol on Thursday and won't play Monday night. 

And Jordan Howard (shoulder) has still not been cleared for contact; he can’t play until he is and that’s not happening before Monday. He's officially questionable. 

Lane Johnson also missed practice on Friday and Saturday for a non-injury reason but is expected to play on Monday. 

If Agholor is unable to play, the Eagles would be left with just three healthy receivers on the roster: Alshon Jeffery, JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Greg Ward. 

“We’re very comfortable, obviously, with the guys we have,” Pederson said. “So if it’s three, it’s three. We brought up [Josh Perkins] a week ago to help us there, so it’s an addition there. We go and we go play. We’ll discuss those over the next couple of days leading up to the game. If we have to make a decision we will. We feel good with the guys we have in that receiver role.” 

If the Eagles do decide to make a roster move, they have three wide receivers on their practice squad: Robert Davis, Marcus Green and Marken Michel. 

While Agholor had his knee injury before last week’s game, Barnett got hurt during the loss in Miami, but was still able to play through the injury and play 50 snaps. Barnett has played the third-most defensive snaps on the team this year, so losing him for this game wouldn’t be insignificant. 

If Barnett can’t play, expect Josh Sweat and Vinny Curry to get more reps. After that, Genard Avery, Daeshon Hall and even Shareef Miller could see a few snaps. 

For the Giants: 

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