After two seasons in with the Dolphins, Ballage will reportedly reunite with Adam Gase via a trade to the New York Jets.
Plot twist: The #Dolphins are trading RB Kalen Ballage to the #Jets for a conditional late-round pick, source said. Miami had planned to release him, but NYJ stepped in before it was official and the two have a deal.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 27, 2020
Per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the New York Jets are sending over a conditional late-round draft pick to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for rusher Kalen Ballage. Specific terms of the deal have yet to be announced.
Ballage, 24, left the Dolphins’ training camp practice early on Wednesday in Davie and was set to be released by the Dolphins before the Jets reportedly stepped in.
The 24-year-old entered the league as a fourth-round pick (131st overall) out of Arizona State. Collegiately, Ballage is best known for scoring a Football Bowl Subdivision Record eight touchdowns for the Sun Devils in their 2016 win over Texas Tech.
The trade reunites Ballage with New York Jets head coach Adam Gase, who oversaw his rookie season with the Dolphins. Ballage burst onto the scene in the late stages of 2018, tallying 123 yards on 12 carries in a December tilt against Minnesota. The big day was punctuated by a 75-yard scoring rush that opened the second half.
“That long run he had, that’s how he runs every day. That’s how he finishes every day,” Gase said after the Minnesota game, per Alain Poupart of MiamiDolphins.com “There’s a reason why he’s able to do that and was confident to just gas it and run by everybody because every day in practice we watch the same thing. When he gets a carry with the offense, he finishes in the end zone. It’s a good trait to have.”
His debut season ended with 191 yards and a 5.3 average.
He took on an increased role with six starts during the 2019 season but dealt with a leg injury and struggles, seeing his average drop to 1.8. Ballage has also earned 119 yards on 23 receptions during his Dolphins tenure.
While trading for Ballage, who was set to be let go as is, makes sense from a familiarity standpoint (having worked with Gase and offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains in Miami), the rushers’ room has gotten a little crowded. Incumbent starter Le’Veon Bell is set to return, and the Jets also added veteran Frank Gore this offseason. Gore previously worked with Ballage in Miami during the 2018 season.
The team also chose Florida alum Lamical Perine in the fourth round of April’s draft. Veteran reserve Josh Adams also returns and undrafted Monmouth-produced rookie Pete Guerriero was signed earlier this week.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags