New York Giants Release Rashad Jennings, What To Do At Running Back?

The New York Giants have released Rashad Jennings after three seasons with the team.

As NFL.com’s Marc Sessler puts it, the “in-house purge continues” for the New York Giants as they’ve released running back Rashad Jennings. After an injury-plagued first year with the G-Men in 2014, Jennings bounced back with a decent season in 2015. He finished strong with a huge 176-yard effort against the Philadelphia Eagles in that season’s finale. However, his 2016 season was his worst in a Giants uniform. Jennings’ workload waned as fifth round rookie draft pick Paul Perkins emerged.

In his now final season with the Giants, Jennings played in 13 regular season games, starting 12 of those. His 2016 averages were the lowest of his tenure with the team. Of the 36 NFL running backs who took at least 36 percent of their unit’s snaps, Jennings was ranked dead last in Spotrac’s “True Value” rating with a 3.53. In comparison, Melvin Gordon (who had a similar salary for 2016) placed ninth with an 81.44. Even Todd Gurley, who many would consider took a major step back in 2016, had a higher rating.

On the last day of January 2017, Jennings stated he’d expected to be back with the Giants (per NJ.com) and admitted that the Giants offense left the defense hanging (per NFL.com). Jennings went on to praise head coach Ben McAdoo, claiming the goateed one should win “Coach of the Year” honors (per CBS New York) for getting the Giants back to the playoffs for the first time in five years.

The Giants would’ve absorbed a cap hit of more than $3 million had the 31-year-old Jennings stayed on the roster. Instead, Big Blue will now take on $562,500 in dead cap with his release. The transaction is bittersweet for both Giants fans and personnel as Jennings was well-received in and out of the clubhouse.

With Jennings gone, the Giants can look to Paul Perkins even more to boost their anemic running game. Some might argue that it was the Giants offensive line to blame for Jennings’ futility, but no can debate the statistical difference between Jennings and Perkins.  Yet, Perkins’ surge as the starter in the second half of the 2016 season fizzled in the playoffs. There are still some pundits who aren’t convinced that Perkins is the answer.

So, where do the Giants go from here at running back? Other than Perkins, the Giants still have Shane Vereen, though some may say Vereen’s spot could be in question. Vereen is set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2018. Their salaries account for a little less than five percent of 2017’s total cap so far. Orleans Darkwa, who many fans liked, is a restricted free agent. Judging by the peculiar handling of his situation, he could end up elsewhere.

Of the top free agents at the running back position, the Giants could show some interest in Eddie Lacy, Isaiah Crowell, or Latavius Murray. In the NFL Draft, some have the Giants selecting Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey. Whichever move the Giants make, the offensive line has to be Big Blue’s primary concern.

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