The New York Giants have done little to disguise their belief that David Wilson can be a No. 1 back -- GM Jerry Reese said early in January that Wilson is capable of "lead dog" status -- and they backed that stance Wednesday by releasing Ahmad Bradshaw, as first reported by Pro Football Talk.
The Giants also released defensive lineman Chris Canty, according to multiple reports. Canty was due more than $6 million next season and played in just nine games in 2012.
Bradshaw, meanwhile, was set to make $3.75 million in 2013 and another $4 million in 2014. Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News tweeted that Bradshaw's release will save the Giants $2.75 million next season.
In theory, Bradshaw could return to the Giants for a lesser sum, but he's likely to find a better deal than New York can offer on the open market. That's even after undergoing another surgery on his right foot, this time to insert a screw, just prior to the Super Bowl. Bradshaw is expected to be sideline for at least two months, though that still puts him in line to be at 100 percent for training camp and the preseason.
Bradshaw accumulated more than 7,000 total yards in his six-year Giants career, including 1,260 (1,015 rushing, 245 receiving) in 2012. However, the Giants spent a first-round pick on the versatile Wilson, and he flashed some of his potential en route to leading the league in kick-return yardage.
Wilson saw only 71 carries in his rookie campaign -- two fewer than Andre Brown, who found a role as a short-yardage and goal-line back.
The physical Brown, who's in the midst of recuperating from a broken leg, is a restricted free agent. Should the Giants bring him back, he and the shifty Wilson could essentially reprise the roles played by Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs on New York's 2012 Super Bowl team.
Bradshaw's release certainly constitutes an end of an era in the Giants' backfield, as well as a gamble on Wilson's potential.
Bradshaw should be able to latch on elsewhere, though at 26 years of age (he'll be 27 in March), he already has had multiple surgeries on both feet. That fact alone could scare some teams away, but Bradshaw's dual-threat ability out of the backfield will make him an intriguing option for a number of teams. The Giants, however, are ready to move forward without Bradshaw, meaning that Wilson should receive more than ample opportunity to prove his worth next season.