Fans are still digesting the fact that Miami Dolphins star running back Jay Ajayi was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles for a fourth round draft pick on Tuesday morning. According to ESPN’s Jeff Darlington, however, this move may have been a long time coming.
Shortly after the trade took place, the site broke down the reasons why the Dolphins may have felt it was the right time to part ways with their former running back:
“The Dolphins traded Ajayi because they believe his most productive games are behind him, fearing the knee issues stemming from a significant 2011 surgery are finally catching up to him, team sources tell ESPN’s Jeff Darlington.”
The article added that the three-year pro had been frustrated with his lack of red zone touches. Ajayi has rushed 138 times for 465 yards over seven games this season. While he is coming off a productive 2016 campaign when he rushed for 1,272 yards and eight touchdowns, he has yet to hit pay dirt so far this season.
The Miami Herald‘s Armando Salguero added his own insight into the reasons behind the trade when he discussed Ajayi’s on-field production.
“Despite this Ajayi was averaging 3.4 yards per rush, which is considerably less than the 4.9 yards per attempt he gained last season,” he wrote. “And he lost the third-down duties to Damien Williams in recent weeks.”
Salguero continued to say, however, that the main reason Ajayi is no longer in a Dolphins’ uniform is because there were growing issues off the field.
“The reason Ajayi was traded has to do with team culture and locker room chemistry and player buy-in,” he wrote.
Salguero pointed to head coach Adam Gase‘s stinging comments following the Dolphins’ 40-0 defeat at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens last Thursday as a sign that he may have been growing tired of Ajayi.
“And the Dolphins weren’t liking what Ajayi was doing on those fronts,” Salguero wrote. “Yes, he was missing holes and assignments on occasions, too. He was among the players coach Adam Gase was referencing when he said players don’t take work home with them.”
He also touched on the rumors that Ajayi was becoming a locker room distraction, saying that Ajayi had recently expressed his dissatisfaction with his lack of touches following a recent victory.
“He complained bitterly about not getting the football. He stormed out of the locker room — get this, after wins — because he hadn’t gotten what he deemed to be enough carries,” Salguero wrote. “And, oh yes, he didn’t exactly light it up on the field.
“And here’s the thing: All this was done undercover. Ajayi complained to his position coach. And he carried around an attitude around other teammates. But he never took his concerns to the only voice that matters and that’s Gase.”
Ajayi was a fan favorite and considered one of the Dolphins’ most dangerous offensive weapons. It seems, however, that problems off the field were beginning to rear their head along with reduced productivity on it. While Ajayi will surely be missed by the Dolphins’ fanbase, it’s clear that the team felt it was time to move on.