Big-ticket free-agent signee Adoree’ Jackson may have opted to don the No. 22 jersey with the New York Giants. However, that’s not to say that the previous occupant of the number has definitely seen his final days in East Rutherford — that is according to USA Today’s John Fennelly.
Fresh off a career campaign, running back Wayne Gallman was believed to have priced himself out of the Giants’ future plans. However, approximately one month into free agency, and that may no longer be the case.
Overlook on Giants’ Current RB Situation
After missing the majority of 2020 with a torn ACL, former NFL Rookie of the Year Saquon Barkley is set to reclaim his rightful place atop the Giants depth chart. Barkley’s impending return is likely a driving force in both New York and Gallman’s initial decision to venture their separate ways.
Gallman led the Giants in every major rushing statistical category this past season, posting career highs in attempts (147), yards (682) and touchdowns (six). The idea was that the Clemson product would be able to catapult that production into a starting gig elsewhere — or at the very least, a high-volume complementary role. However, as we approach the mid-point of April, Gallman remains on the open market without even a glimmer of publicized interest.
Of course, that could change following the NFL Draft later this month, as backfields begin to take shape. Yet again, an influx of younger, cheaper backs entering the league may not exactly bode well for his stock.
Fennelly makes a great point — one that will lead to major pushback from Gallman’s overnight diehards — the 26-year-old is not a lead back in this league (or at least an upper echelon one). Yes, he’s certainly serviceable. He proved that this past season. Yet, the fact of the matter is his skillset is a dime a dozen at the running back position, something Gallman appears to be finding out the hard way thus far this offseason.
In many ways, Gallman’s situation is eerily similar to that of former Giant Orleans Darkwa — injury aside. The team’s leading rusher in 2017, the Giants opted not to re-sign Darkwa following his breakout season, letting him hit free agency. No other team chose to take the bait, as Darkwa remained unsigned through October of the next season until a ruptured Achilles tendon during an in-season workout with the Jacksonville Jaguars further derailed his NFL trajectory.
Gallman vs. Devontae Booker
This is not to say Gallman wouldn’t add a boost to whatever backfield he eventually joins. However, as it specifically pertains to the Giants, you could argue that the presence of free-agent signing Devontae Booker makes a Gallman reunion moot.
If the Giants were looking for a player to serve in a high-volume rushing role, they’d likely opt for Gallman over Booker every time. However, with Barkley set to man the majority of the touches in the backfield, the team will ask their No. 2 back to serve as a reliable backup in multiple facets of the game. That means being able to hold up in pass protection and serve as a viable receiving outlet out of the backfield, both of which Booker appears to have Gallman’s number.
Booker has caught 122 passes over his NFL career, including three seasons of 30-plus receptions. As for Gallman, he has hauled in an average of just 15.3 receptions per season over the past three years, never exceeding 21 receptions over that span.
Yet, arguably the most important aspect is the differential in special teams contributions from both backs. Gallman hasn’t played more than 18% of the Giants’ special teams snaps in any season since 2017, logging a total of 17 snaps in the past two years. Booker, on the other hand, has played 533 special teams snaps over the past four years and is just one season removed from logging a career-high 45% of his team’s special teams snaps.
When it comes down to it, Gallman may be welcomed back with open arms at the right price. Then again, all parties may be best served to go their separate ways, with Booker manning the dirty work behind Barkley and Gallman serving as a bruiser for a running back-needy team.
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