Kalen Ballage
Jet X Graphic, Getty Images

For the time being, the former Dolphins running back will not be coming over to New York.

On Thursday, it was reported that the New York Jets had agreed to send a conditional draft selection to the rival Miami Dolphins for running back Kalen Ballage, who was expected to be released in the near future.

Fast forward to Sunday afternoon, and it appears that the Ballage trade will not be going through after all. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Ballage failed his physical with the Jets due to a hamstring injury.

Ballage will head back to the Dolphins, who in all likelihood will release him soon. Considering the Jets’ willingness to part with a pick (which most likely would have been a seventh-rounder on the condition of a certain number of games played) to secure Ballage before he hit waivers, it seems plausible they could explore bringing Ballage back in once he heals up.


Ballage, 24, is entering his third season after being selected by Miami in the fourth round of the 2018 draft. The Arizona State product has been ineffective thus far, logging 110 NFL carries for 326 yards (3.0 per carry) while catching 23-of-34 targets for 119 yards (3.4 per target). Adam Gase coached Ballage in 2018.

The Jets are hurting at running back, with Le’Veon Bell and Frank Gore as the only healthy bodies as of right now. La’Mical Perine will have an MRI for an ankle injury suffered in practice today. Josh Adams – the fourth and final back on the roster at the moment – remains sidelined with a hamstring injury.

So, if the Jets do circle back to Ballage, he may have a decent chance of sneaking in as the fourth running back on the roster given the current health of the position.

Contrary to the speculation of some observers, the Ballage interest tells us nothing about the team’s long-term plans at the running back position. Joe Douglas was preparing to give up an essentially worthless asset to get a look at a player who the head coach is familiar with and is probably a fan of. There is not a ton of reading between the lines to be done here.

Bell will maintain his role as the workhorse while Gore and Perine follow him at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. Once the season concludes, the team can focus on whether or not they would like to proceed into 2021 with Bell on the roster.

Another note that is worth keeping in mind here: following the Ballage trade, the Jets cut ties with recently-signed running back Pete Guerriero, an undrafted free agent from Monmouth. Perhaps the Jersey product will reappear on Douglas’ radar.


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