The Eagles’ depleted running back situation became considerably thinner on Monday. The team is placing starter Jay Ajayi on IR.
A knee malady’s afflicting Ajayi, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter), and ESPN’s Adam Schefter reveals (via Twitter) it’s a severe setback. Ajayi tore an ACL and will miss the rest of the season. The 25-year-old back was already playing through a fracture in his back.
The Eagles signed defensive tackle T.Y. McGill to take Ajayi’s roster spot.
This is brutal timing for Ajayi, who is in a contract year. The fourth-year running back had knee issues coming into the NFL, and they’re believed to have caused the 2015 fifth-round pick to have dropped in the draft. Nevertheless, he submitted two seasons of starter work, the second of which helping the 2017 Eagles soar to the Super Bowl LII championship.
Now, Ajayi will likely head into free agency on the heels of one of the worst injuries possible in football.
Philadelphia already has been without Darren Sproles and Corey Clement, forcing the likes of Wendell Smallwood — the team’s previous No. 4 back — and Josh Adams (the player whom Smallwood beat out for that back-end job during the preseason) into action. Clement, though, looks to be close to returning from his quadriceps injury. He was active on Sunday against the Vikings but didn’t play.
This also figures to add heat to the Le’Veon Bell-to-Philly rumors. That’s been out there for several days now, with the Eagles reportedly giving “serious consideration” to acquiring Bell from the Steelers. Now that their backfield is bereft of a proven starter, this figures to be perhaps the team to watch if Pittsburgh is indeed ready to unload its superstar back.
Ajayi exited Week 5 averaging 4.1 yards per carry. Following the midseason trade from the Dolphins, Ajayi posted a stellar figure of 5.8 per tote for the Eagles last season. He rushed for a career-high 1,273 yards en route to a Pro Bowl nod in 2016. It’s fair to wonder if Ajayi will be able to secure a medium- or long-term pact from a team after this ill-timed injury.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.