JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars' offensive backfield just got a lot deeper.
It got a lot more experienced and productive, too, as the team signed a veteran runner to complement a promising young player at the position.
Chris Ivory, a 1,000-yard rusher who has averaged 4.6 yards per carry in six NFL seasons, has signed with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent from the New York Jets. The team announced the signing while announcing a slew of moves at EverBank Field Thursday morning.
"When we played the Jags, it was a battle," Ivory said of a 28-23 Jets victory over the Jaguars last season. "They were a tough team. I know the record didn't show that, but I think this team is a lot better than the record says. I just felt like this would be the place for me."
Ivory was a Pro Bowl selection this past season.
Ivory, who originally signed with the New Orleans Saints as a free agent following the 2010 NFL Draft, has rushed for 4,031 yards and 24 touchdowns on 883 carries in six NFL seasons. He played with the Jets the past four seasons, having joined the team in a trade with the Saints in exchange for fourth-round selection during the 2013 NFL Draft.
He led the AFC in rushing this past season with 1,070 yards and seven touchdowns on 247 carries.
He is expected to be a complementary player in the backfield along with T.J. Yeldon, a second-round selection in the 2015 NFL Draft who rushed for 740 yards and two touchdowns on 182 carries in 12 games as a rookie last season.
"Most of my career, I've been in a two-back system," he said. "It's not new to me. It's going to be normal. I'm fine with that. It adds more years to you as a running back and it helps with durability in this league. If you have two backs that are able to make things happen on the field and create big plays and build momentum when needed, I think that's needed – to keep fresh bodies in the game."
The Jaguars have struggled to run in recent seasons, ranking 27th in the NFL in rushing last season and 21st in 2014. The Jaguars as a team averaged 92.1 yards per game last season, averaging 4.2 yards per rush.
Images of new Jaguars RB Chris Ivory.
Quarterback Blake Bortles accounted for 310 yards rushing on 52 carries last season. Without Bortles' rushes, the Jaguars averaged 3.8 yards per carry.
Ivory also could help the Jaguars in short-yardage situations. The Jaguars finished last season with five rushing touchdowns, including two by Yeldon, one by reserve running back Denard Robinson and two by Bortles. Jaguars running backs scored just two short-yardage touchdowns last season – a 1-yarder by Yeldon and a 1-yarder by Robinson.
Of Ivory's seven touchdown runs this past season five were from three yards or less.
"I take pride in every aspect of the field," Ivory said. "You should take pride in all aspects of the game – that's what's going to make you better in this league, at least for me."