Armando Salguero

The reasons Jay Ajayi is gone and Jarvis Landry is (was?) on the trade block

Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi is now a Philadelphia Eagle.
Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi is now a Philadelphia Eagle.

Jay Ajayi is gone. Jarvis Landry is still with the Miami Dolphins but he’s been on the trade block and can be had for the right price.

[Update: A source tells me the Dolphins have decided not to trade Jarvis Landry and have told him as much. But, well, the proof of all this will be known at 4 p.m.]

We won’t know the full extent of the Dolphins work relative to these two players until after the NFL trade deadline passes at 4 p.m. Tuesday. But we know that in recent weeks the team’s braintrust -- coaches and front office -- became frustrated by both players for quite similar reasons.

The reasons?

Neither player has been fully bought in to what the Dolphins are trying to accomplish.

With Ajayi this was surprising because last season he was the NFL’s fourth-leading rusher and he worked extremely hard in the offseason to increase his value to the team by improving his pass-catching skills. He worked on that and all it entails -- route running, hands, pass protection -- to be on the field on third down.

Despite this Ajayi was averaging 3.4 yards per rush, which is considerably less than the 4.9 yards per attempt he gained last season. And he lost the third-down duties to Damien Williams in recent weeks.

But the yards per attempt and the third-down role were not the chief reasons Ajayi was traded hours ago to the Philadelphia Eagles for a fourth-round draft pick. Ajayi is still a good player and behind a good offensive line, he’ll do good work.

The reason Ajayi was traded has to do with team culture and locker room chemistry and player buy-in.

And the Dolphins weren’t liking what Ajayi was doing on those fronts. Yes, he was missing holes and assignments on occasions, too. He was among the players coach Adam Gase was referencing when he said players don’t take work home with them.

“At the end of the day, guys have got to actually take this stuff home and study it,” Gase said a few days ago. “They’re not going to just learn it all in meetings. We’ve got to find guys that will actually put forth effort to actually remember this stuff and really, it starts with our best players.”

Yes, like Ajayi. And Landry.

But Ajayi was a curious case because he had a period before the season-opener last season during which the Dolphins were really frustrated with him. It’s the reason he was left home when the team flew to Seattle for the 2016 season opener.

Ajayi seemingly addressed his attitude after that. And he reaped the benefits. He earned the starting job and became the team’s most effective offensive weapon. That continued through the offseason.

But in the last four weeks or so, the Dolphins saw pre-Seattle Jay Ajayi again.

He complained bitterly about not getting the football. He stormed out of the locker room -- get this, after wins -- because he hadn’t gotten what he deemed to be enough carries. And, oh yes, he didn’t exactly light it up on the field.

And here’s the thing: All this was done undercover. Ajayi complained to his position coach. And he carried around an attitude around other teammates. But he never took his concerns to the only voice that matters and that’s Gase.

He was, again, pre-Seattle Jay Ajayi.

More concerned with self than with the team, I’m told.

So the Dolphins have sent him off. They believe it is addition by subtraction in the locker room.

On the field, that’s going to be another matter. The Dolphins don’t exactly have a deep stable of potential 1,000-yard rushers on the roster. That issue is real and it’s going to require attention -- maybe by the time the trade deadline hits at 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

Now onto Landry.

It’s obvious the Dolphins don’t hold him in the same lofty regard that fans do. They like him. They value him. They’ve told him that.

But they don’t love him unconditionally -- especially when he also messes up on his assignments and often enough doesn’t do things the way the team wants that it has become a frustration.

That’s the reason Landry can be had in trade by any team paying substantial compensation for him. (And by substantial I assume that means a second round pick).

[Update: Again, the Dolphins have told Landry he’s staying. They also told him if he didn’t hold out from offseason conditioning and OTAs and minicamp, they’d address his contract.]

If no team decides to step up and buy Landry, the next few weeks until the end of the season will be interesting because everyone involved seems to understand this relationship is not exactly a love affair.

Landry’s camp is frustrated he hasn’t gotten a contract extension while the Dolphins have made multiple other moves to extend or re-sign other players.

The Dolphins are frustrated because they’ve asked Landry time and time and time again to buy in to what the coaching staff is selling, to do it their way. And he hasn’t. He didn’t last year and that’s probably the reason he didn’t get an extension this offseason.

He hasn’t so far this year, either, and that’s probably the reason he’s available in trade for the next few hours and might or might not get a contract in the offseason if he stays.

(Remember, if the Dolphins lose Landry in free agency, they’re banking it will be for a deal that pays between $12-$15 million per year and so that will bring a third- or fourth-round compensatory pick the following year). They can also franchise tag him if, for example, he suddenly changes personalities and does things exactly as coaches want.

So that’s where we are at this hour.

The Dolphins are making moves. The Dolphins are active, as I reported Monday.

Stay tuned.

Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

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