The New York Giants have added some much-needed depth at the running back position behind starter Saquon Barkley.
According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the team has agreed to terms on a two-year, $6 million deal with former Las Vegas Raiders running back Devontae Booker.
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Wayne Gallman Done in New York?
The Booker move comes at a time with New York’s top-three backs for the majority of 2020 — Wayne Gallman, Alfred Morris and Dion Lewis — all hitting free agency. Expect Booker to vie for the No. 2 gig in East Rutherford this season, as his signing likely points to the end of Gallman’s tenure with the Giants.
A former fourth-round pick out of Clemson, Gallman enjoyed a career season serving as an injury replacement for the aforementioned Saquon Barkley — who spent the majority of the year on I.R. with a torn ACL. The former National Champion headed the team’s rushing attack, collecting a career-high 682 yards on 147 carries (4.6 ypc average) and six touchdowns.
Wayne Train’s hard-nosed play style helped establish the four-year pro as a fan favorite over his breakout campaign. It also likely earned him a sizeable pay raise. In return, the perception around the league was that Gallman had run himself out of the Giants’ price range. Not to mention, it’s likely that he’d prefer to find a destination where he can continue to serve in a lead-back role (or at least as a highly-used complimentary back), something unlikely in New York with the return of Barkley.
With that said, NFL analyst Chad Forbes has questioned the team’s unwillingness to use the Veteran’s exemption on Gallman after seeing the finances attached to Booker’s deal, taking a not-so-subtle jab at the front office in the midst.
Have a look:
#Giants 1 Yr $3M on Austin Johnson & $3M per yr on Devontae Booker.
$6M in Average Annual Value for Depth
Both Good Players. Would it have been smarter to resign Gallman with the Veteran's Exemption that doesn't count towards cap?
Giants worst managed team cap wise in NFL?
— Chad Forbes (@NFLDraftBites) March 16, 2021
The Veteran’s Exemption is a “$1.5 million salary-cap exemption for veterans who’ve been with their teams for longer than four years,” according to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer.
Booker is a Dual-Threat Out of the Backfield
Booker, 28, amassed 507 yards from scrimmage (423 rushing, 17 receiving) in 2020 as the Raiders’ top reserve behind Pro Bowler Josh Jacobs. A former fourth-round pick of the Broncos, Booker failed to live up to high expectations in Denver. With that said, he’s made a living serving as a reliable receiving option out of the backfield. The Utah product has hauled in 122 receptions over his five-year NFL career, recording at least 30 catches in three of those seasons.
Additionally, after a slow start to his NFL tenure, Booker’s production in the run game has improved dramatically. From 2016-17, the running back averaged just 3.65 yards per carry on 253 attempts, never once topping 3.8 ypc in a single season. Since then, Booker has touted the rock 129 times, averaging no worse than 4.5 ypc over the past three years.
The 5-foot-11-inch, 219-pound running back has also seen his role on special teams evolve recently — a likely added bonus under head coach Joe Judge. Booker has logged 533 special teams snaps over the last four years. He also has experience as a return man, averaging 20.9 yards on 30 career kick returns.
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