On Tuesday, two veteran running backs became available for the New York Giants as Jamaal Charles and Adrian Peterson were both released.
The Adrian Peterson to the Giants rumors have been prevalent throughout the offseason, and Jamaal Charles rumors may begin to circulate sometime soon also. There have been several reports linking Peterson to the Giants, including Peterson indicating that he would like to play for New York. However of these two running backs, Charles might be the better fit for Big Blue.
It’s all about the money
Last season Peterson’s base salary according to Spotrac was $7.75 million dollars while Charles was paid $2.75 million. One of the reasons the Giants cut Rashad Jennings was so that they could clear $3 million in cap space to fill other needs. Charles is right around that number and could even be open to taking less. Peterson would have to be willing to take a significant pay decrease for it to make financial sense for the Giants.
Peterson is a future Hall of Famer and is one of only seven men to rush for 2,000 yards. However, he’ll be 32 in a few weeks and has a history of knee injuries. It wouldn’t make sense to give him a big contract after playing in just three games last year and averaging 1.9 yards per carry.
Charles is more familiar with splitting carries
After missing the final 11 games of the 2015 season after tearing his ACL, Charles knew he would have a lesser role heading into 2016 playing alongside Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West. By all accounts he seemed okay with his reduced role before he was placed on IR in November to have another knee surgery.
Peterson has always come into a season expecting to be the feature back. It’s unknown how he’ll react to having a reduced load splitting time with Paul Perkins and Shane Vereen. He could take the reduced role in stride or he could become annoyed and become a distraction.
The Giants are a pass heavy offense with Odell Beckham Jr being the focal point of the offense. So, neither man would be the workhorse even if they beat out Perkins for the starting job. Charles has more familiarity with this role of splitting game time.
Pass catching backs fit McAdoo’s system
As we mentioned in the previous reason the Giants have a pass happy offense and in their west coast offense, they need all of their running backs to be able to catch passes coming out of the backfield. Charles is a much better pass catcher than Peterson. His career high in receptions came in 2013 when he had 70. Four times Charles has had at least 40 receptions in a season, Peterson has done this twice. Despite appearing in 20 less games during their careers, Charles has 285 career receptions to Peterson’s 241.
Age can’t be ignored
The Giants have been going through a youth movement over the past few seasons as Eli Manning is currently the only skill position player over 30. At the start of next season, Charles will be 30 and Peterson will be 32. Running backs don’t get better in their 30’s, so if the Giants were to gamble on a veteran back with a history of injuries, Charles’s youth (at least compared to Peterson’s) could be a factor.
A case could be made that the Giants should avoid both backs and look at add another back in the draft and continue with their youth movement. At this stage of their careers, there is no guarantee that they’ll perform better than Paul Perkins this season.
If they want to acquire a big name veteran, financially and schematically, Charles makes more sense.