Bringing Jay Ajayi back to Big D as a back up running back behind Ezekiel Elliott would be an excellent free agency option for the Dallas Cowboys.
The Dallas Cowboys are in desperate need of running back depth. Outside of Cowboys’ starting running back Ezekiel Elliott, the only other running backs currently under contract next season are Darius Jackson and Jordan Chunn. Jackson only appeared in two games last season, with six rush attempts for 16 yards.
With the lack of experience outside of Elliott, Dallas could really use two running backs. Ideally, one power back and one pass-catching back to compliment Elliott’s play style. The upcoming 2019 draft has several pass-catching backs the Cowboys could take in later rounds, including Texas A&M’s Trayveon Williams, Stanford’s Bryce Love and Washington’s Myles Gaskin. Current Cowboys’ wide receiver Tavon Austin is also capable of catching passes out of the backfield.
With that in mind, with and the free agent market starting to run thin, the Cowboys could look to target a power back that could give Zeke a breather without the Dallas run-game having a massive drop in production. With as good as Elliott is at running back, he does occasionally need breaks after long runs or minor injuries.
A player on the free agent market that would fit this mold perfectly is former Philadelphia Eagles running back, Jay Ajayi. A Dallas local, Ajayi played high school football at Frisco Liberty High School, just seven miles from the Cowboys practice facility. Bringing Jay back home to the Dallas area would bring him back close to his family, who still live in Frisco, TX.
Ajayi battled several injuries last season before suffering a season-ending ACL tear. When healthy, he was the Eagles number one running back. At 6-foot, 233 pounds, Ajayi is essentially the exact same size as Elliott and has a similar style of running. He is a powerful runner and is completely capable of being a three-down back and workhorse for a team, as long as he can stay healthy.
In the 2016 and 2017 seasons, Ajayi was healthy and rushed for 1,272 yards and 873 yards respectively. He was even a Pro Bowler in the 2016 season and led the Miami Dolphins to a playoff appearance.
Ajayi still has not fully recovered from his ACL injury, but still has a chance of being ready to play week one of the 2019 season. Due to his injury history and coming off of a season-ending injury, he could be a cheap option for Dallas. The Cowboys love signing guys like this on cheap one-year deals, and with the production he can give when healthy would be worth taking a flyer on.
The Dallas Cowboys could still look to draft a running back in the upcoming draft even if they were to make this move. If Jay Ajayi were to end up being third on the depth chart, he would still be able to contribute in many ways next season. As of now, the two teams Ajayi is reportedly in talks with are the Philadelphia Eagles and the Indianapolis Colts to make a return to the field next season.