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No line help, but Howie Roseman gives Eagles' firepower a boost with Jay Ajayi

The Eagles' ground game gets a big boost from the Pro Bowl RB.

Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman.
Eagles executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman.Read more(Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

Adding a marquee running back to the Eagles' mix wasn't the trade-deadline deal most of us expected, but it was the one Howie Roseman made Tuesday, shipping a fourth-round draft choice to the Miami Dolphins for Jay Ajayi.

When Roseman met with reporters at NovaCare, it was clear he believed this deal reflected his focus on the future, while also significantly boosting the firepower of a surprise 7-1 team.

Asked if being 7-1 spurred deadline action, Roseman said: "You take into account where you are. 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 going forward.

"A big part of this trade is that it's a 24-year-old back who's not just here on a one-year deal."

Ajayi, 6-foot, 216 pounds, who made the Pro Bowl last season on the strength of 1,272 rushing yards on 260 carries, is a fifth-round 2015 draft pick from Boise State who is signed through 2018.

Roseman spoke of "a responsibility to the people on the field, the people off the field, our fans, to evaluate everything. And that's what we've been doing here."

The Eagles can certainly use what Roseman characterized 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 … when you watch him, if there's an alley, he's getting something, and he's going to impose his will on defenders."

With seasoned, savvy running back Darren Sproles and dominant left tackle Jason Peters both out for the season, blocking help sure seemed a more pressing need. Roseman said there was no "tackle tree" from which he might pluck a ripe starter – basically, that you look at what's available on deadline day (4 p.m. Tuesday was the official NFL trade deadline), and out of that, you calculate what can help you the most.

"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."

Roseman praised Ajayi's pass-blocking skills, which he reportedly has worked to improve, but Miami hasn't been using Ajayi on third down in recent weeks.

The Eagles traded away their 2018 second- and third-round draft picks in the Carson Wentz and Ronald Darby deals. They had three fourth-round picks, now down to two.

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