When the Philadelphia Eagles re-signed Jay Ajayi last week, they didn’t merely sign him to a standard one-year contract. Instead, the team signed the 26-year-old running back to a deal that gives the Eagles the “right of first refusal” during the 2020 offseason, according to NFL insider Ian Rapoport.
What this means is that the Eagles will have the ability to match any contract offer that Ajayi receives in the offseason.
The right of first refusal normally exists in restricted free agency. Teams can tender their restricted free agents at the lowest level and have the ability to match any offer the player receives. Unlike a second-round tender, though, the team doesn’t receive a draft pick if they decline to match the offer sheet.
All of this is to say that retaining Ajayi for the 2020 season is potentially easier than it would be if he were to become an unrestricted free agent instead. In that scenario, the Eagles wouldn’t get the chance to match any deal that’s offered to the Jay Train.
Ajayi didn’t log a single snap in his first game back with the Eagles against the New England Patriots. That development came as no surprise since he only re-signed with Philly on Friday. He hadn’t taken a single practice rep since tearing his ACL in October 2018.
Moving forward, the Eagles will look to get Ajayi more involved on offense. It’ll be interesting to see how he splits time in the backfield with Miles Sanders, Jordan Howard (if/when he gets healthy), and Boston Scott. One would guess the Eagles will continue to gently ease Ajayi in to the rotation but we’ll see. Only six games to go.