Two-time Pro Bowl running back Devonta Freeman wasn’t short of suitors early on in free agency. The Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Jets all showed interest in signing the former Atlanta Falcons starter this offseason. However, Freeman’s unwillingness to budge on lofty contract demands had left him team-less and agent-less, until now.
Kirstin Campell, Freeman’s former agent, notably terminated the two’s relationship a month ago. However, it appears the running back has since landed on his feet. The six-year veteran has now hired powerhouse agent Drew Rosenhaus to represent him in his journey to nail down a new gig ahead of training camp, first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Rosenhaus has since vowed to find Freeman employment by “late July.”
We want to work out a deal in the immediate future, and we are open to any team. He’s healthy, he’s in shape, and I’m on a mission to have him give a team a lift in late July.
With Freeman eyeing a quick return to the gridiron, could the New York Giants be waiting with open arms to add him into the fold of an ever-improving backfield?
Are the Giants a Legitimate Landing Spot for Freeman?
Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox certainly believes so. Despite what EA Sports’ Madden may tell you, Big Blue has, by many accounts, the best running back in all of football on their roster in former NFL Rookie of the Year, Saquon Barkley.
Behind him, the team opted to upgrade from long-time RB2 Wayne Gallman this offseason, bringing in scat-back Dion Lewis to spell Barkley.
However, with $16 million in available cap space, Knox not only perceives New York as a logical landing spot for Freeman, but also believes adding the running back is the “one move the Giants should make before the 2020 season begins.”
The idea of the New York Giants signing free-agent running back Devonta Freeman may seem counterintuitive given the presence of superstar Sqauon Barkley. However, adding the versatile runner and receiver would go a long way toward keeping Barkley on the field for a full 16 games.
Though Barkley is a special back when at 100 percent, he missed three games due to injury last season and has already seen 621 touches in his two-year career. The risk of him being overworked is real, and if the Giants are going to be at all competitive in 2020, they’ll need to avoid that.
Freeman has worked well in a committee backfield before, racking up more than 1,500 combined rushing and receiving yards while splitting time with Tevin Coleman in 2015. He obviously would play a much smaller role while working alongside Barkley, but even if he took six to eight touches per game, that would significantly reduce the wear and tear on the incumbent over the course of the season.
The Giants do have the tandem of Dion Lewis and Wayne Gallman behind Barkley, but Freeman would offer much more flexibility from a single roster spot. With more than $16 million in cap space available, the Giants could afford to add him.
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Evaluating Freeman’s Contract Demands
Freeman will likely never sniff a contract near the monstrous five-year, $41.25 million extension he received from Atlanta a few years back, a deal that at the time made him the highest-paid running back in football.
He’s likely aware of this. Yet, how low he’s willing to go will likely determine his potential employment with the Giants, or any other franchise for that matter. Freeman notably threatened to sit out the 2020 season if no team were willing to pay him a $4 million annual salary.
So far, no team is. The Seahawks passed on Freeman this offseason in favor of Carlos Hyde. Seattle inked the Houston Texans’ 2019 leading rusher to a one-year deal worth up to just $2.75 million, a price tag likely much more aligned with Freeman’s current value.
Freeman was a touchdown waiting to happen early in his career. Over a two-year span from 2015 through 2016 the ex-Falcons standout recorded an eye-popping 31 combined touchdowns. However, since then his production has sloped off dramatically, recording just 14 total touchdowns over the past three seasons combined, due to a combination of injuries and decreasing effectiveness.