Former Arizona State running back Kalen Ballage has not had the NFL stint he planned on having early on in his career. After two seasons with the Miami Dolphins, the team has decided to move on after a disappointing season in 2019. The Dolphins were expected to release Ballage until the New York Jets agreed to trade a conditional late-round pick for the third-year player, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
The former 4th-round pick by Miami appeared in 24 games for the Dolphins over two years. During his rookie season, Ballage only carried the ball 36 times for 191 yards, which gave him 5.3 yards per carry. In his second year with the Dolphins, he started six games but struggled to produce. On 74 rush attempts, Ballage only gained 135 yards on the ground.
The 6-foot-2, 231-pound running back never got a full opportunity to produce on an adequate team, as the Dolphins were considered one of the worst teams in the NFL this past year. Ballage also struggled to show the speed and flashes that made him the 131st overall pick in the 2018 draft. And it didn’t help that Miami had the worst offensive line in 2019 according to Pro Football Focus.
Ballage had a successful college career with the Devils. He shared a backfield with ASU alum Demario Richard throughout his four years, and while Richards’ career numbers were better than Ballage, Kalen had better speed and NFL intangibles that made him more desirable on the professional level. Ballage finished his Sun Devil career with 1,984 yards and 27 touchdowns rushing. Ballage is best known for his NCAA record-tying 8-touchdown performance during his junior year against the Patrick Mahomes led Texas Tech Red Raiders in a 68-55 victory in 2016.
Ballage will now join another AFC East backfield as a compliment to the Jets $52-million man Le’Veon Bell. The yards still won’t come easy for Ballage, as New York has the 28th-best O-line according to PFF. While that’s not ideal, at least the 24-year-old Ballage will have a chance at a fresh start as he attempts to resurrect his career in the Big Apple.