The Melvin Gordon signing in Denver turned quite a few heads, as the Broncos already had a solid one-two punch at their disposal in back-to-back 1,000-yard rusher Phillip Lindsay and former third-round draft pick Royce Freeman.
Gordon will likely man the lead-back role in Denver, in return pushing Lindsay into more of a change of pace receiving back, ala Austin Ekeler for the Chargers. However, that likely leaves Freeman, the team’s second-leading rusher from 2019, the odd man out, and a potential trade target for the New York Giants.
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Giants Must Address Their RB Depth
If you’re a Giants fan, chances are you remember all too well the stint of games that Saquon Barkley missed with injury last year. Names such as Jon Hilliman and even fullback Elijhaa Penny tried their hand at filling the gaping void left behind by the All-Pro running back and unsurprisingly fell well short.
Wayne Gallman would seem like the logical play behind Barkley. Gallman has shown well in his NFL career when given the opportunity. However, towards the end of last season, he fell out of favor with the coaching staff, leading to being jumped on the depth chart by journeyman Buck Allen, even being a healthy scratch for numerous games.
With that said, a new coaching staff is in town in New York, and this could lead to Gallman reprising his once-promising career. However, it’s clear that the Giants lack crucial depth in the backfield, something that could be fixed with a deal to acquire Freeman, who could likely be had for the right price.
Freeman Showed Growth in Year 2
Freeman’s rookie season was an utter-disappointment from many perspectives, certainly if you were one of the fantasy owners that took a chance on him in the early rounds. Freeman was jumped by undrafted free agent Philip Lindsay on the depth chart, ultimately rushing for just 514 yards.
In 2019, Freeman found himself much more involved, most notably in the passing game where he hauled in 29 more receptions than he had the previous year. His added usage led to him eating into Lindsay’s snap count, out-snapping Lindsay in 10 of the team’s 16 games.
Asking Price For Freeman is Likely Low
Freeman’s stats thus far in his career are far from spectacular, evident by his career 3.9 yards per carry average. That combined with Melvin Gordon’s signing makes it evident that the team will likely want to move on from him, which extremely hampers his trade value.
With superstars such as DeAndre Hopkins being traded for pennies on the dollar, and former league MVPs and ex-OPOYs such as Cam Newton and Todd Gurley failing to garner interest on the trading block, the possibility that a Freeman would require much in return is unlikely.
Chances are Freeman could be had for a sixth or seventh-round pick, or at the very worst, a plethora of each. Not bad for a player who was once perceived as a top running back in his draft class.
That asking price shouldn’t be too much for the Giants, who own one sixth-round pick and, wait for it, four seventh-round picks in this year’s upcoming draft.
While his stats may not be eye-popping, if you’ve turned on a Broncos game over the last two years, Freeman’s talent is evident. He runs with toughness and possesses good speed for his nearly 240-pound frame. He also demonstrated soft hands and the ability to serve in a third-down role.
While he may not be the starting running back material the Broncos hoped he’d be when they drafted him, he’s a viable backup and role player, something the Giants could desperately use.