Ivory will compete with T.J. Yeldon, the team’s second-round pick in 2015, to be the starter. At the worst he’ll share time with Yeldon as the No. 2 back. That means significantly less job stability for Toby Gerhart, Denard Robinson and Jonas Gray.
Gerhart tops the list because he’s due a $500,000 roster bonus on the fifth day of the league year (Sunday) and is supposed to make $3 million in 2016. That’s a lot of money for a player who has rushed for 370 yards and two touchdowns in 21 games since signing a three-year, $10.5 million contract with the Jaguars in 2014.
General manager Dave Caldwell said during the NFL combine that he still saw a role for Gerhart on the team in 2016 as a short-yardage back and special-teams player. That still could be the case if the Jaguars ask him to take a pay cut and he agrees, though it is expected that Gerhart will be released within the next few days.
NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport reported that it could happen on Wednesday.
Gerhart has battled injuries to his foot, ribs and core in two seasons with the Jaguars and finished the 2015 season on injured reserve because of a sports hernia that required surgery. Gerhart hurt his foot when he was brought down by a horse-collar tackle in the 2014 season opener against Philadelphia and that injury lingered throughout the season. He also dealt with a rib injury late in that season.
Gerhart was healthy throughout the offseason and looked good during organized team activities, minicamp, training camp and the first part of the preseason. Then he strained an abdominal muscle before the third preseason game and missed the first two games of the 2015 regular season. The injury gradually worsened and his playing time diminished until he was placed on IR in early December.
Robinson was the Jaguars’ leading rusher in 2014 (582 yards) but dropped behind Yeldon and Gerhart on the depth chart. He battled a sprained MCL early in the season but got more work after Gerhart’s injury. Robinson, the team’s fifth-round pick in 2013, hurt himself with four fumbles in three games at the end of the season and he’s entering the final year of his rookie contract.
Gray was added to the roster in mid-December and carried the ball 14 times in two games. Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley both said they were interested in seeing what Gray could do during the offseason and that he could compete for a spot behind Yeldon.
The 6-foot, 222-pound Ivory has been productive throughout his six-year career, averaging 4.6 yards per carry. He has rushed for 4,031 yards and 24 touchdowns and caught 53 passes for 382 yards and two touchdowns and is coming off a career season with the New York Jets (1,070 yards and seven TDs rushing).