Giants Waive Gary Brightwell & Sign DB After Career-High Season: Report

Gary Brightwell

Getty The New York Giants waived RB Gary Brightwell to make room for a versatile DB.

The New York Giants continue to reshape their roster after waiving running back Gary Brightwell to make room for defensive back Elijah Riley. Those moves were made on Thursday, May 30 and confirmed by Dan Salomone of

He reported how former New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers’ DB Riley “played a career-high 13 games last season with Pittsburgh, lining up for 50 snaps on defense and 216 on special teams.”

Releasing Brightwell was described as “a corresponding move.” The team’s sixth-round pick in the 2021 NFL draft gets “a waived/injured designation,” according to ESPN’s Jordan Raanan.

Although he was a popular player with useful value on special teams, Brighwell’s greater value might have been as the lone power rusher in a running back rotation set to miss Saquon Barkley’s elite talents.

The secondary is also missing the security of established big names. Riley won’t solve that problem, but he has the chance to force his way into the rotation at safety.

Gary Brightwell Was Valuable in Niche Roles

As a 6-foot-1, 220-pounder, Brightwell offered some brute force to a running game otherwise defined by speed. Veteran Devin Singletary, second-year pro Eric Gray and rookie Tyrone Tracy Jr. are all at their best when attacking the edges of defenses.

The same is also true of undrafted free agent Dante “Turbo” Miller. So with Brightwell gone, there’s no longer a power complement in the backfield.

Brightwell was the natural choice for short-yardage work. Like when he moved the chains on this 3rd-and-1 run highlighted by Nick Falato of SB Nation’s Big Blue View.

Dumping Brightwell creates a niche role for a goal-line back a former NFL rushing champion could fill.

The hidden value in Brightwell’s game extended to special teams, where he played 100 snaps last season, per Pro Football Reference. Brightwell had some juice in the return game, an area where 2023 fifth-round pick Gray struggled mightily as a rookie.

Kick coverage was also a strength for Brightwell. He proved as much with this tackle against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 2, highlighted by Sports 24/7.

Making plays like this is how Riley can make the team and ensure Brightwell isn’t missed.

Elijah Riley Could Boost 2 Areas

Riley could restore some oomph to the Giants’ special teams based on what he did for the Steelers last season. The versatile 25-year-old made impact plays like this one against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, highlighted by X user Bigfoot Bandit.

Solid performances in football’s third phase might be Riley’s best chance of making the final roster. Yet, he’s also primed to take advantage of depleted resources in the defensive backfield.

The downhill instincts and sure tackling Riley displays on special teams also serve him well on defense. He can operate effectively close to the line of scrimmage, either as a box safety or a slot cornerback.

Riley can still be an asset even when he’s lined up deep. Like when he got downhill in a hurry to sack Deshaun Watson against the Cleveland Browns in Week 2, per Steelers Depot writer Josh Carney.

This level of flexibility can be useful after safety Xavier McKinney joined the Green Bay Packers in free agency, and the Giants released experienced corner Adoree’ Jackson.

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