FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Hoping for an opportunity at more playing time, Zac Stacy went from one crowded backfield to another one equally as crowded. Thing is that here in New York with the Jets, Stacy thinks he'll fit in just fine.
When the St. Louis Rams made the surprise selection of taking Todd Gurley with the 10th overall pick in April's NFL Draft, Stacy knew that his time with the team was likely coming to a close. His trade request was honored by the team as the Jets sent a seventh round pick for the 24-year-old running back, adding him to a unit that - on paper - was already quite strong.
Running back might be the deepest position on the Jets' roster. There is battering ram Chris Ivory, perhaps the hardest runner in the league this side of Marshawn Lynch. The Jets also re-signed Bilal Powell and brought in free agents Stevan Ridley and Daryl Richardson.
“There's always competition everywhere but I think the move to the Jets was what's best for me," Stacy told Metro. "Coming into a system that obviously has competition going in but has good opportunities as well. Thought it was a best fit for me to move Jersey. At the end of the day it was the best decision for me.
“With the situation, like I said this was the best, ideal situation for me in terms of opportunity. With the situation in St. Louis, I felt my opportunities were limited.”
Where all this depth on the Jets roster leaves Stacy is in a spot where he must exceed expectations to just make it to Week 1.
He burst onto the league in his rookie season of 2013, running for 973 yards and seven touchdowns. But last year, his carries were cut by nearly three-fourths and his productivity went way down. Stacy has a low center of gravity and is thick in his build but he has good hands out of the backfield, something that can be an asset with the new spread offense implemented by offensive coordinator Chan Gailey.
He will need to impress head coach Todd Bowles to make the 53-man roster, something that isn't exactly a given at this point. Ivory is a lock to make the team and Ridley, despite his torn ACL last year, would seem to be in the mix for significant carries this season. Then there is Powell, who was the first player the Jets re-signed when Bowles was named head coach.
So making the team, let alone getting reps in training camp, will be a difficult task for Ridley.
“Right now I'm trying to establish a role anyway I can, running the football, being versatile, special teams, any way I can," Stacy said. "We have a horse here already in Chris Ivory, he's been great teaching me, showing the ropes. He's been great. We've got Stevan Ridley – man he has looked great. Bilal Powell, Daryl Richardson too is in here.
“I feel like regardless with me being released or being traded, I have value," Stacy continued. "I think every team in the NFL saw that. Coach Bowles is a great coach, I faced him when I was with the Rams and he was the DC in Arizona with the Cardinals. He's a great coach. I love the playbook here, it allows us as runners to get downhill which is my style. We're asked to be versatile out of the backfield, get out there, run corner routes. Let's us be versatile.”