The NY Giants bolstered their runningback room on Monday by coming to terms with veteran Dion Lewis.
Many have pontificated that the NY Giants needed help runningback wise heading into 2020, now those people have their wish. After being released two years into a 4 year/$20M contract with Tennessee, Dion Lewis lasted a while on the open market before taking a one-year contract with Big Blue.
Lewis’ career has been all over the place. After breaking into the league as a fifth-round pick with the Eagles and doing nothing, the Patriots scooped him up and he had two quiet seasons before exploding in 2017. Lewis parlayed that success into the aforementioned contract with the Titans and found himself out of the shuffled after Derrick Henry’s ascension.
A scat-back, Lewis is at his best in space and catching the football out of the backfield. Considering that’s one of Saquon Barkley’s biggest strengths, one would be right to question the signing from a scheme and fit perspective.
However, Barkley struggled immensely in pass protection in 2019 and new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett relies heavily on his runningbacks being able to block (as do most coaches). Too many times last season, Barkley was barreled over by a defender only to get Daniel Jones hit. While I’m sure the coaching staff will give him every opportunity to show he’s improved in that regard in 2020, bringing Lewis abord gives the team a backup plan in terms of pass protection.
It’s hard to imagine a scenario where Barkley isn’t on the field for most third downs, but Joe Judge has made it known that the best players will play, and if he’s giving up crushing hits on his quarterback this could be a real option.
Lewis reeled in a career-high 59 passes with the Titans in 2018 and has recorded over 900 total yards twice in a season. Given the fact that this contract is a one-year deal and is likely close to the vet minimum, it’s hard not to like this signing.
This move obviously begs the question of whether or not Wayne Gallman will be on this roster in 2020 as he heads into the final year of his rookie deal. The former 2017 fourth-round selection has fallen out of favor with the current regime as a Jerry Reese draft pick and his days are very likely now numbered.
The NY Giants could still be in play for a runningback late in the draft, specifically in the 7th round where the team holds three selections. For my money, the team still has a need for a short-yardage runningback, and there are plenty of those in this draft. Earlier in the offseason, I mocked Michael Warren out of Cincinnati to Big Blue in the 7th round, as the 5’10 220 pound ‘back would figure to slide into the offense nicely.
For now, the Giants will head into 2020 with two runningbacks with elite speed and pass-catching ability which has got to be very attractive for Jason Garrett.