Giants Turn to Familiar Face as New York Searches for Help at Running Back

Devontae Booker

Getty Devontae Booker tied for the New York Giants team lead with 593 rushing yards in 2021.

The New York Giants are looking to shore up the running back position and could bring back a familiar face to make that happen.

The Giants invited free-agent running back Devontae Booker in for a workout over the weekend, according to Field Yates of ESPN. Booker was with the Giants last season but was released in early March as part of a cost-cutting measure.

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Booker served as Saquon Barkley’s immediate backup last season, playing in 16 games and starting four of them. He and Barkley both finished with exactly 593 yards on the ground, tying for the team lead.

Booker and Barkley had eerily similar stat lines last season, but you could argue that Booker was the slightly more efficient player in 2021.

Via Pro-Football-Reference.com:

Saquon Barkley (2021) Devontae Booker (2021)
593 Rush Yds. 593
3.7 Rush YPA 4.1
2 Rush TD 2
41 Receptions 40
263 Rec. Yds 268
2 Rec. TD 1

Booker, 30, is a former fourth-round draft pick who spent his first four NFL seasons with the Denver Broncos (2016-2020). He played one season with the Las Vegas Raiders (2021) before joining the Giants last season. Although he’s never been a featured back, he has played in 93 career games and is a very reliable backup or rotational running back.

Booker’s best game with the Giants came in a Week 9 win over the Raiders. He started the game and recorded season highs for both rushing attempts (21) and yards (99). He also caught three passes in that game for 23 yards.

Booker’s longest touchdown with the Giants was this 19-yard sprint, which came in a Week 7 win over the Carolina Panthers.

Considering Saquon Barkley’s injury history, adding a player like Booker to the mix would give the Giants a decent insurance policy at running back.


The Rest of the Giants Depth at Running Back is Shaky

If the Giants do not sign Booker, the depth at running back behind Barkley is questionable. Matt Breida is the next man up, and his production has dropped off dramatically since leaving the San Francisco 49ers a couple years ago. Brieda rushed for just 254 yards with the Miami Dolphins in 2020 and then had only 125 rushing yards with the Buffalo Bills last year.

Behind Breida, the Giants have Gary Brightwell, Jashaun Corbin, Antonio Williams and Sandro Platzgummer on the roster at running back. Those four players have combined for 63 rushing yards, and all of them have come on the legs of Williams.

Ideally, Saquon Barkley stays healthy as an every-down back. If that plan goes south, however, the Giants may have to get creative at the running back position.


Giants May Use Wide Receivers as Running Backs

We’ve covered extensively how Saquon Barkley will be used more as a receiver this season, but that creativity cuts both ways. Giants head coach Brian Daboll may also deploy his speediest receivers, namely Kadarius Toney and Wan’Dale Robinson, out of the backfield.

Here’s a video from Dan Duggan of The Athletic, showing both Toney and Robinson working out of the backfield as de facto running backs at training camp:

The Giants may be light at running back, but having versatile playmakers like Toney and Robinson at running back could help them get by this season.

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John Herling
John Herling
3 months ago

Booker is as slow as molasses and has no acceleration. He can’t run outside, so the only thing he’s good for is running for short yardage. Is he the best they can do at backup?

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