The old saying in the NFL is that if you are staying still, you are really going backward. So the Eagles, as they approached the league's trade deadline at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, kept their ears and eyes open, understanding the opportunity for the rest of the season in front of them. And then a name popped up on the radar screen that Howie Roseman and the personnel department couldn't ignore: Running back Jay Ajayi.
A deal was done, relatively quickly. At the cost of a fourth-round draft pick – a longshot to make an impact in the NFL by any metrics used – the Eagles acquired a running back who is in his third season played in the Pro Bowl last year after gaining more than 200 yards in three different games and whose attitude and style fits in with what the Eagles do offensively.
It's "go" time. And the Eagles are going. Not standing still. Not staying pat.
"I don't think we felt compelled to do anything here," Roseman said. "We thought this was a good opportunity to improve our football team, not only this year but going forward.
"We like our running back group. This was an opportunity that came to us that we thought was a good player who could add to our team, a young player who is under contract for the next couple of years. At the same time, everyone has seen how LeGarrette (Blount, averaging 4.9 yards per carry) has run, Wendell (Smallwood) has had really good games for us, Corey (Clement). We brought Kenjon (Barner) back as well. It just adds to the group. Playing time is sorted out by the coaches. LeGarrette continues to be our starter and we're just real excited to have that group and add a good player."
Roseman said the Eagles "do a lot of research on players" before they make a deal, or decide on a draft pick, so they feel they have a good understanding of who Ajayi is, and what kind of locker room they have. Chemistry, or negatively altering something that has been great, in the locker room, Roseman said, is not an issue. Neither are the reports that Ajayi has knee problems that could shorten his career.
"I'm not concerned about any reports other than the ones given to us," Roseman said.
At 7-1, yeah, the perspective is different. The Eagles understand the situation they are in, and what could be in front of them. Roseman acknowledged that the chance to bring a player onboard who is 24 years old can help the Eagles in their ultimate pursuit this season and for the future.
Seize the moment. That's what the Eagles did, swinging a deal to bring a very talented player here from a team going in a different direction in many ways.
"I think you take into account where you are," Roseman said. "It's certainly different when you're 7-1 than if you're having a losing season. But at the same time, we're not going to do anything that puts us in a bad spot moving forward. A big part of this trade is that this is a 24-year-old back who is not just on a one-year deal.
"If there are opportunities to improve our team and improve where we're at, we have a responsibility to the people on the field, the people off the field, our fans, to evaluate everything. That's our job. That's what we've been doing here really throughout the course of the season."
Roseman described Ajayi as "a physical, downhill running back who can pick up yards after contact, he can make people miss, he had 52 catches his junior year at Boise (State) … when you watch him, if there's an alley, he's getting something. He's going to impose his will on defenders."
The Eagles are confident they did their homework on Ajayi, having scouted him prior to the 2015 draft, interviewing him at the Scouting Combine, and coming away believing that Ajayi will fit right into the culture. Roseman mentioned several times that Ajayi is 24 years old, so he will fit right into the young core on the roster.
As for Blount and the rest of the running backs, Roseman doesn't anticipate any problems. There is an Eagles Way now, with a franchise quarterback in Carson Wentz as the leader of the team. Anyone who plays here understands that Wentz is the one to take the Eagles to the top, and to follow his steps.
on board, and they sent a fourth-round pick to Miami for a running back in Ajayi who is part of the stable, as Roseman said, but is clearly the kind of player who can be the lead horse.
And that's where the Eagles stand right now. They've got five running backs on the 53-man roster and another (Donnel Pumphrey, fourth-round draft pick) on Injured Reserve. We'll see if there are moves to be made there. Roseman's history is that he is always ready to make a calculated move to improve the roster.
The Eagles are rolling at 7-1 and they aren't standing pat. They are aggressively pursuing ways to improve the roster as much as possible. The window, and you know the one I'm talking about, is open. Could be for the next 10 years. The Eagles are going to do what they can do to get through that window, starting now.