Chris Ivory is joining the Jacksonville Jaguars, signing a five year deal to join the team, but is his arrival not as beneficial as it first appears on paper?
Every team needs improved talent at any position. Idle roster management does not lead to success in the NFL and teams that are proactive in finding better players often end up with stronger rosters and better records as a result.
For that reason, I praised the Jacksonville Jaguars’ decision to bring in running back Chris Ivory. He will join 2015 second round running back T.J. Yeldon as the primary ball carriers and I believe it will make a formidable one-two punch for the Jags on the ground. They offer slightly different running styles and Ivory’s growth as a player over his career will help bring along Yeldon as he continues to learn the game.
The move was not universally praised, however. Ben Stockwell at Pro Football Focus put the Ivory acquisition on his list of the 10 most puzzling early free agency moves, saying:
"Ivory has graded consistently well since he entered the league in 2010 with the Saints and he got better with an expanded role with the Jets over the last few seasons, but Yeldon was extremely impressive as a rookie last year. Yeldon earned a higher grade than Ivory and had no fumbles compared to Ivory’s three. Ivory and Yeldon do not offer the contrast of a thunder-and-lightning combination in the Jags backfield, so have the Jags overpaid a player to be their redzone specialist? Or have they unnecessarily marginalized a talented young running back for a veteran entering his seventh season at a higher price?"
Depending on how the Jaguars use Ivory, he could be the pounding running back that they need. Toby Gerhart, released on March 10, failed in that role and the Jags had numerous instances of trying to pound the ball for a couple yards and failing. Ivory will get those yards. Even if the Jags overpaid, they’re filling a role that was miserable in 2015.
The more important concern raised by Stockwell is whether the acquisition of Ivory is marginalizing Yeldon as he tries to grow as a player.
Yeldon is more than capable of being a three-down bell cow back in the NFL. He proved that in his first season, set for a pace of almost 1000 yards and proving his value when he was on the field (the Jags won four of their five games when Yeldon had 60 yards or more on the ground). Does bringing in another player to share the load limit his development? Does it show a lack of faith in the younger back?
While I personally do not see that as the case, it is possible that bringing in someone like Chris Ivory and handing him big money could cause a problem. It could send a message that the Jags weren’t all that impressed by Yeldon in year one. It could show a lack of faith in the running game as a whole.
But if Yeldon is anything like he has been during his time at Alabama and his first year with the Jaguars, he’ll buckle down and work hard, humbling grinding away to be the best running back on the roster. He’ll hone his craft, using Ivory as a resource to make his own game better.
While it is interesting to examine the Ivory-Yeldon relationship – and the overall roster management of the Jaguars – from a more negative standpoint like Stockwell did, the move doesn’t look to be particularly damaging when you understand who Yeldon is. The Jags needed a player who can be the bruiser more than Yeldon. They needed a player who can complement their young back and Ivory does just that.
More from Black and Teal
- Jaguars RB Travis Etienne expected to have bigger impact in 2023
- 5 bonafide stars from the Jacksonville Jaguars 2022 season
- Jacksonville Jaguars haven’t heard any Calvin Ridley news from the NFL
- WR Marvin Jones Jr. will give 110 percent with the Jacksonville Jaguars or wherever he plays in 2023
- Jacksonville Jaguars keeping TE Evan Engram in 2023 one way or another
There are questions arising with every acquisition for every team, but sometimes the challenges are blown out of proportion. This seems to be one of them.