Giants' top free agent running back targets


The Giants have their work cut out for them. Having headed into the 2013 NFL season feeling rather optimistic about their running backs (David Wilson and Andre Brown), a season hampered by injuries and poor performance leaves the G-Men with a lot of questions regarding their rushing attack heading into the offseason.

The Giants finished 29th in rushing yards, averaging just 83.2 yards per game. The team’s leading rusher, Andre Brown, will become a free agent at the end of the season, 2012 first-rounder David Wilson is battling with a neck injury that could ultimately be career ending, and Brandon Jacobs retired after nine seasons in the league.

The backfield is a mess in New York and they’ll have to sort out what it is they want to do in 2014 to be more successful on the ground. General Manager Jerry Reese has already made it clear they can’t count on Wilson to be their No. 1 back, so where does that leave them?

Whether Wilson can play or not, the Giants will have some decisions to make come time for free agency. Here’s a look at some of the available backs that could be a good fit in New York…

Knowshon Moreno
A breakout season playing alongside brother Peyton Manning should make him an enticing candidate for the Giants to match up with the younger Eli. Moreno rushed for over 1,000 yards and had 10 touchdowns. He also caught 60 passes for 538 yards and three touchdowns.

A return to the Denver Broncos is likely, but their investment in Montee Ball indicates he’s unlikely to be a long-term option. New York could be a more comfortable spot for the 27-year-old back as he enter the prime years of his career.

Ben Tate
Stuck behind Arian Foster in Houston, Ben Tate has made the most of his opportunities. The 25-year-old saw major playing time when Foster went down with an injury this season. Unfortunately, he himself battled cracked ribs for the majority of his chance.

He still tallied 771 yards and four touchdowns for a dismal Texans team that finished at the bottom of the league. Still young and likely to come at an inexpensive price, the Giants could definitely score a big pickup in the offseason if they choose to pursue him.

Darren McFadden
The former Arkansas Razorback is oft-injured and has underperformed to date—just the way the Giants like them, right? McFadden has averaged just 11 games played per season since entering the NFL in 2008.

When he is healthy, however, the 26-year-old is among the league’s best. There are few backs as explosive as McFadden with the football in his hands. He is a capable receiver out of the backfield and a serious threat in the red zone, having scored five touchdowns this season despite carrying the football just 114 times.

Donald Brown
Perhaps it’s just a well-timed career year as he’s set to become a free agent, but former first-round pick Donald Brown has been a pleasant surprise for the Colts this season. Taking over for midseason acquisition Trent Richardson, Brown racked up over 700 total yards and seven touchdowns for Indianapolis.

Brown is still young at 26 years of age and if this season is any indication, his best years could still be ahead of him. He showed far more promise coming out of UConn in 2009 than he has in five NFL seasons, so maybe a change of scenery could provide the boost his career needs.

Andre Brown
The Giants love players they’re familiar with, and Andre Brown is a guy they can project what they’ll get out of him and likely get it. Brown is a workhorse, with a great combination of speed and power, capable of carrying the load when necessary.

Preferably, Brown would not be the No. 1 guy again next season. He’s too injury prone and too fumble prone. However, he provides a nice boost in the red zone, as noted by his 11 rushing touchdowns over the last two seasons.

Ahmad Bradshaw
Why not? Bradshaw is not a No. 1 back by any means, but you know he’s going to work his butt off for his team every week; that’s something any coach would love to have on his team.

Injuries are an obvious concern. After hitting the injured reserve this season with the Colts, it wouldn’t be all that shocking if he decided to retire. But Bradshaw is such a quality player when healthy, it’d be a shame if he didn’t try to land with an NFL again this spring.

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  • Brian Reilly

    I’m not sure why you would list Moreno in front of Tate. They had the same yards/carry; only difference, Moreno is playing behind a first place team and Peyton Manning. Tate is also significantly faster, superior break away speed, as evidenced by his long run of 61 yards, vs Moreno’s 31 yard jaunt. Finally, Tate should come cheaper. This should be a no-brainer for the Giants. Hopefully they move in stealth like and not glacial like manner to sign Tate.

  • Lou Musto

    Either would be a great addition for the Giants and I wasn’t necessarily listing one player as a higher priority than another. Moreno’s failure to really blossom until this season does concern me, but Tate’s inability to really take advantage of playing time in place of Foster equally concerns me. Still think either would be a great back to platoon with David Wilson, Andre Brown or all three.