The Detroit Lions didn’t add a running back at the NFL trade deadline, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be giving a look at improving their backfield.
Friday, the Lions had running back Jay Ajayi in town for a workout according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Ajayi has been a free agent since he was released by the Philadelphia Eagles in the offseason. In 2018, he had an ACL injury which cost him time in the middle of the season which landed him on IR. He’s trying to fight back from that now.
Ajayi had been given a recent workout with the Arizona Cardinals, who elected not to sign him and instead trade for Kenyan Drake. In this workout, he will be looking to prove he’s healthy enough to perhaps give a sagging Detroit ground game a temporary boost.
Jay Ajayi’s Fit With Lions
Like Drake, Matt Patricia would know plenty about Ajayi given he ran with the Miami Dolphins from 2015 to 2017. He has been a solid player at running back in terms of production, given 2,516 yards from scrimmage and 13 rushing touchdowns in his career.
After he was dealt from Miami, Ajayi helped power Philadelphia’s run to a Super Bowl over Patricia’s defense, and if not for knee injuries, has been a solid player in the league. The injury issue is the big one to remember for Ajayi, and that’s the gamble for Detroit given they have had trouble keeping Kerryon Johnson healthy.
At 26, Ajayi is still young and still a name in NFL circles, but he has plenty of milage on his tires. If the Lions are to sign him, they will be signing off that he is completely healthy and ready to go in their eyes.
Near Miss for Lions at Trade Deadline
From Detroit’s perspective, there were some whiffs at the deadline, like Devonta Freeman, who was another near-miss in addition to cornerback Chris Harris. In addition to the traded Drake, the Lions were also rumored to be eying Melvin Gordon, and potentially as the internet suggested, Le’Veon Bell and Jamal Adams at other points during the day. None of those players were moved, so it wasn’t merely the Lions missing out.
Detroit might have wanted to look at an upgrade for a defensive upgrade along their line given some of their troubles there or on the back end, given injuries, but it sounded like running back might be the most obvious spot the team could have decided to add to the roster.
Right now, the team’s biggest hole remains at running back, where they must wait for Johnson to heal up and come off IR. Otherwise, the tandem of Ty Johnson, Paul Perkins, J.D. McKissic and Tra Carson, while willing and eager, might not be enough to get it done statistically. Even Carson has been dinged up this week.
Apparently, it wasn’t for lack of trying that the Lions wanted to upgrade this struggling ground game. Right now, they are at least getting a look at the best name player on the free agent market in Ajayi.
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