How each NFL deadline trade affects playoff race

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 01: Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald
GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 01: Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald /
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The Jay Ajayi deal

Trade parameters: The Miami Dolphins trade running back Jay Ajayi to the Philadelphia Eagles for a fourth round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

If you listen to most talking heads, the scales will likely sound tipped toward the Philadelphia Eagles in this deal. After all, Ajayi is the “name” here, the sexier of assets involved and it doesn’t hurt that the Eagles have the NFL’s best record at the midway point.

That said, this was a nice move by the Miami Dolphins for the long-term that really shouldn’t affect their ability to compete in the short-term. The AFC East right now is a total mess with every team still holding out postseason hopes, even the Jets, and the Dolphins are right there at 4-3. They tasted the playoffs last year in Adam Gase’s first season and are now hoping to establish something special.

Despite the Fins’ record, however, there are some cracks in the foundation in Miami. They were already dead last in the NFL in points scored/game even with Ajayi, so projecting some major loss here is a misnomer. In fact, Ajayi only averaged 3.8 yards/carry after his 1,200 yard season from last year, and he’d earned the ire of Gase in recent weeks, who called him out in the media to basically shape up or be shipped out. It turns out the later was a real threat.

According to Pro Football Reference, the Dolphins expected win-loss record is 1.6-5.4, which basically means according to the overall performance on the year, the Dolphins should have between 1 and 2 wins, not the four they currently own. They’ve got a couple of impressive wins, especially over the Atlanta Falcons, but they’ve also been shut out twice.

Gase needed a wake-up call for his team, especially the offense, and if the Ajayi trade can do that, the Dolphins might become a real beast in the second half. After all, the defense, especially the front seven, is already strong enough to give any quarterback a headache.

As for the Eagles, Ajayi thrives when defenses aren’t allowed to key in on him, so he will do his damage for sure in Philadelphia as Carson Wentz will keep defenses honest. It’s not a bad deal for either side, to be fair, but there’s no reason to say the Fins got fleeced. It’s simply not true and the intangibles alone might be worth it in the end.