Most Likely Free Agent Destinations for Jay Ajayi
By Dan Israeli
Even though the 2019 NFL season is well underway, teams are still free to make additions to their rosters.
One of the more intriguing free-agent names out there is running back Jay Ajayi. A five-year vet, Ajayi had his 2018 season cut short in Week 5 when he suffered a torn ACL, which marked the second time he sustained the injury after doing so during his freshman year at Boise State.
Still, Ajayi is a real talent, having racked up 1,423 yards from scrimmage with the Miami Dolphins in 2016. With that in mind, here are three potential destinations for Ajayi in free agency.
3. Los Angeles Chargers
Melvin Gordon's holdout has already caused him to miss Week 1, and there's seemingly no telling when he's actually going to rejoin the Los Angeles Chargers, or even if he will return to LA at all. While the Chargers have Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson waiting in the wings, Ajayi would likely prove a solid upgrade over Jackson if available. Ajayi could also be a nice contingency plan if either back were to go down, and he could make an impact in the red zone as a second option to Ekeler while Gordon remains on the sidelines.
2. Carolina Panthers
There hasn't been a lot of recent talk about the Carolina Panthers pursuing another running back, as they weren't reportedly in the hunt for guys like Carlos Hyde nor LeSean McCoy. The team has been adamant about reducing Christian McCaffrey's workload after receiving 326 touches last season. And after McCaffrey struggled against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 2, a big back like Ajayi could be the ideal complementary depth piece to McCaffrey at the RB position. Currently, the Panthers' backfield beyond McCaffrey includes unproven options like fifth-round rookie Jordan Scarlett and undrafted rookie Reggie Bonnafon. If Carolina is looking to add a veteran option, Ajayi could be a great fit.
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
As the team with arguably the least talented backfield in the NFL, the Buccaneers are likely looking to bolster the RB position. Incumbent starter Peyton Barber couldn't even crack 1,000 yards from scrimmage on 254 touches last season. Second-year back Ronald Jones, meanwhile, continues to draw lackluster reviews in training camp and was ineffective in limited snaps last season. That leaves undrafted Dare Ogunbowale, who has been talked up more as a third-down back in the regular season. For a team with such a high-powered passing game, the Bucs could really use a solid early-down back to keep defenses honest. Ajayi makes a lot of sense, for as long as he can stay healthy, to fill that role in Tampa Bay.
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