Report: Kalen Ballage Traded to Jets by Dolphins for Conditional Draft Pick

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 27, 2020

Miami Dolphins running back Kalen Ballage (27) runs drills during practice at the NFL football team's training facility, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, in Davie, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

The Miami Dolphins are trading running back Kalen Ballage to the New York Jets for a conditional late-round draft pick, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport

That the Jets gave up any sort of asset for Ballage is somewhat surprising because Rapoport had reported Wednesday the Dolphins were planning to release him outright. Cameron Wolfe of ESPN reported New York head coach Adam Gase wanted to leave nothing to chance:

Cameron Wolfe @CameronWolfe

Before the Dolphins could release Kalen Ballage, Adam Gase and Jets decided to trade a late-round pick for him source says. AFC East rival trade. So Ballage reunited with Gase, who was a part of drafting him in Miami.

The Dolphins selected Ballage in the fourth round of the 2018 draft. The former Arizona State star ran for 326 yards and four touchdowns over 24 appearances. He struggled mightily in 2019, as his 1.8 yards per carry were the fewest in the league among players with at least 50 carries, per Pro Football Reference.

In addition to his underwhelming numbers to date, adding Ballage is somewhat of a head-scratcher because the Jets already have a solid backfield.

Le'Veon Bell is back as New York's primary ball-carrier, and the team signed Frank Gore to a one-year deal to be his backup. The Jets also used a fourth-rounder on Florida running back La'Mical Perine in the 2020 draft for good measure.

Of course, the timing of the trade may not be coincidental as it comes one day after Bell publicly questioned his usage in practice:

Le'Veon Bell @LeVeonBell

its tough to stay loose when you do a bunch of standing around......& I’m used to GOINGGG 🏃🏾💨💨

Le'Veon Bell @LeVeonBell

exactly...I PRACTICE for a GAME!!! I need to PRACTICE to be great in GAMES!!! duh https://t.co/AcOUMBOgdt

Ballage clearly isn't going to replace Bell or assume his role in the offense, but fans are left to wonder whether Gase is somehow attempting to send a message to the three-time Pro Bowler.