The offensive line situation was so bad for the New York Giants last season it’s going to take more than one offseason to fix, which is why the main quality the team is looking for in a free agent running back is pass blocking before anything else. Candidates? Donald Brown, Ben Tate, Rashad Jennings and possibly even Maurice Jones-Drew.
The Eli Manning contract and other deals prevent the Giants from paying a lot of money to a new running back, although teams in general seem to be moving away completely from picking up tail backs who cost a bit more than the minimum in a league that’s moving more and more towards the passing game.
The Giants have David Wilson, but he has fumbling issues and recovering from neck surgery, which might mean he won’t be ready to play a big part in next season. Andre Brown, leading the team with 492 yards and three touchdowns last season in the ground game, is a free agent and the Giants aren’t too much in a rush to re-sign him.
So who fits their standards and demands, along with a cheap salary? While pass-blocking is the main objective, being able to not fumble the ball and being a decent pass catcher seem to come before being an outstanding rusher. Donald Brown of the Indianapolis Colts fits that bill. He averaged 5.3 yards per carry last season and also caught 27 passes for 214 yards.
More options? Ben Tate is a name a lot of team are looking at. He might be the best runner out there, but his blocking has been mediocre at best. The same goes for Darren McFadden, and even Rashad Jennings who had a big game against the Giants last season. They might be better running backs overall than Wilson or Brown, but they aren’t very special when it comes to blocking.
Maurice Jones-Drew has been wasting away in Jacksonville for quite some time, and couldn’t wait to hit free agency. He is probably the best blocker of the free agency bunch and was rated second by PFF among running backs in pass blocking last season. But his price tag might be a bit too much for the Giants, who don’t have too much to spend, especially at this position.