If the New York Giants' newest running back, Michael Cox, the 253rd player selected in the 2013 NFL draft, ends up having a career like Ahmad Bradshaw, the 250th player picked in the 2007 NFL draft, has had through six seasons, the team will once again be very happy with its seventh-round choice.
Bradshaw has far exceeded the minimal expectations he had coming out of Marshall. He has accumulated 5,319 offensive yards and 35 touchdowns in his career. He also has two 1,000-yard rushing seasons, a 4.6 yards-per-carry average and a Super Bowl-winning touchdown to his credit.
Despite these impressive statistics, the 27-year-old, who was cut by Big Blue in early February, remains without a team. Meanwhile, the Giants are clearly still in the market for another running back since they are bringing Tim Hightower in for a tryout on Wednesday.
Wouldn’t it make sense, then, given the present circumstances, for the Giants to attempt to bring Bradshaw back?
Despite what appears to be a perfect fit, Bradshaw should not be re-signed because his mere presence would disrupt what the Giants are trying to accomplish at the running back position in 2013 and beyond.
The ironic part is that the reasons the Giants cut Bradshaw three months ago don’t really apply anymore.
For starters, he was let go so that New York could gain some much-needed salary-cap relief. They entered the offseason well over the cap, and the Bradshaw move, which opened up nearly $4 million of cap room, along with the cuts of Chris Canty and Michael Boley, helped get the Giants in the black.
Since Bradshaw remains unsigned nearly two months after the start of free agency, he doesn’t figure to get offered much more then the $715,000 veteran’s minimum salary for the 2013 season. The Giants could probably secure his services for about as much as it would cost to ink Hightower, who with four years of NFL service is guaranteed the same minimum salary as Bradshaw.
Choosing between a player who led your team in rushing last season and one who hasn’t played in the league since tearing his ACL in October 2011 seems like an obvious decision, if the money is going to be about the same for each player.
Speaking of health, this was likely another reason why Bradshaw was let go. He was normally able to suit up for Big Blue (he played in 84 of a possible 96 regular-season games) but has battled numerous foot injuries throughout his career. It probably isn’t a coincidence that he was cut four days after he made public that he had another surgery on his right foot in late January.
While Bradshaw is still an injury concern, despite being in his mid-20s, he was given full medical clearance a few weeks ago to resume football activities. At this point, his health doesn’t seem to be enough to deter a team from offering him a one-year contract worth around $1 million.
The problem with resigning Bradshaw, though, comes down to more than just money and injury-risk. Giants running backs coach Jerald Ingram says it best, as told to Tom Rock of Newsday in the below tweet:
Giants RB coach Jerald Ingram says he'd welcome back Jacobs and/or Bradshaw, but it is time to see what the younger guys have.— Tom Rock (@TomRock_Newsday) April 25, 2013
The main player Ingram likely has in mind is David Wilson. The 21-year-old is entering his second season and demonstrated tremendous speed and explosiveness in kickoff returns and out of the backfield as a rookie. New York would love to see what he could do with 200 offensive touches, instead of just the 75 he had in 2012.
Tom Coughlin made his feelings on Bradshaw very clear after the Giants let him go. If Bradshaw were to be back with the team and healthy, it would be hard for the head coach not to have him, at least, split carries with Wilson.
Also, if Bradshaw were in the mix, where does that leave Andre Brown, who is probably why Ingram said “guys” and not just “guy” in his statement to Rock.
The four-year veteran has had a hard time staying on the field during his NFL career but proved to be a physical running back with a nose for the end zone in the 10 games he played last season. Brown scored eight touchdowns and averaged 5.3 yards per carry before he suffered a season-ending broken fibula in late November.
If Wilson and Bradshaw were splitting carries, that means Brown would be riding the bench in an offense that is largely predicated on the pass (New York was 23rd in the NFL in rushing attempts in 2012).
A Bradshaw-Giants reunion would be a nice story on paper, and it does come with very little financial risk. It would not make sense, though, because the Giants need to find out what they have with Wilson and, to a lesser extent, Brown.
Bradshaw will find an NFL home soon, but the only way that home should be MetLife Stadium is if he is wearing a New York Jets uniform.
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