The running game of the New York Giants was pretty awful in 2013 and while you can look at the offensive line as a major reason why the line was terrible, injuries and a lack of consistency at the position really took its toll on the position.
Many feel that the Giants and general manager Jerry Reese will upgrade the line, whether it be in free agency or in the 2014 NFL Draft, the running game still needs to be heavily addressed. Brandon Jacobs has retired from the NFL, Peyton Hillis is a free agent who didn’t play that much down the stretch, Andre Brown is also a free agent too, but he has yet to show that he can play through a 16-game schedule, Da’Rel Scott was placed on season-ending injured reserve and eventually, was released, and the biggest cause of concern for the position: David Wilson.
Wilson was slated to take over as the team’s number one running back, especially with Ahmad Bradshaw being released after six seasons and showed promise of greatness during his rookie season but in 2013, Wilson didn’t look like the guy that everyone expected and experienced a bit of a fumbling problem during the season; a problem so bad it lead to the team calling Jacobs off his couch to come back before Week 2. But that isn’t even Wilson’s biggest problem; the injury he suffered in Week 5 against the Philadelphia Eagles that landed him on season-ending injured reserve may be an even greater problem.
Wilson suffered from a severe neck injury called spinal stenosis, an injury that narrows the spinal column and has been a career-ender for former players in the past; it ended the careers of Michael Irvin and Chris Samuels right in the middle of their primes. With Wilson, he has yet to have surgery for it, but he may need it and even if he recovers, all it could take is one more violent hit to the head or neck and Wilson faces potential paralysis or even death from the severity of the injury and thus, his career could be in serious jeopardy.
If Wilson is unable to resume his playing career and is forced into early retirement, then the Giants will need to find re-enforcements for the position and while the draft is always a nice spot to look, sometimes free agency can be one as well, which brings us to an off-the-wall idea, but an idea that some might want to ponder: Trent Richardson.
Richardson is currently with the Indianapolis Colts and was part of the in-season trade that saw the Cleveland Browns send him to Indianapolis for draft picks, but the trade was definitely a bust for the Colts since they have used Donald Brown as their primary back for the season with Richardson barely seeing the field. The Colts offensive line has gone through its struggles and have not been a solid group as far as run-blocking goes, which has been a downfall with Richardson’s production, but the whole scenario with him and Indianapolis hasn’t worked out and once the Colts season is over, the former first-round pick of the 2012 NFL Draft is likely to be cut after the season and made a free agent.
With that, we all know Reese’s tendency to fall in love with reclamation projects from former top draft picks; Keith Rivers, Aaron Curry and Jon Beason are all examples of him signing former top draft picks with hopes of seeing past glory and Beason was by far their most successful case, but Reese could see Richardson as that next case.
Reese could sign him to a one-year deal and provide him with an opportunity to resurrect a once-promising career that started off very well with the Browns; he had 950 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns plus 367 receiving yards and a touchdown, but his numbers took a toll in 2013 as he had 105 yards in two games with Cleveland before being shipped off to Indianapolis, where he had 458 yards and three touchdowns in 14 games, bringing his totals to 563 yards and three rushing touchdowns, plus 316 receiving yards and a touchdown.
Behind an adequate offensive line who can properly run-block and pave the way for him to make moves, Richardson could see a chance to be the running back that he was once looked at being and he’s still young enough in his career; will be 24 years old at the start of the 2014 season, to take a chance on for next year.
This past week, newly retired and former Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said that the team needs “a bell cow” at running back for 2014 and while they may or may not bring back Brown, he hasn’t shown that he can be that guy for the Giants. If, and only if the Colts decide to cut Richardson after the season, which again, is a move that many feel that will happen after it failed, playing in New York and with the Giants could be the second chance that Richardson needs for his career.