We continue our review and analysis of the Giants' top unrestricted free agents and who the team might bring back, and what kind of contract he might receive, which is based in part by using Over the Cap's premium stats and advanced valuations tables.
In this installment, I look at running back Alfred Morris and whether he makes the most sense of the Giants running backs to re-sign.
2020 Season In Review
After Devonta Freeman landed on injured reserve, the Giants promoted Alfred Morris, who logged three 1,000-yard rushing seasons in his first three years in the league (with Washington0.
The 32-year-old veteran, who also played for offensive coordinator Jason Garrett in Dallas, averaged 4.3 yards per touch and gave the offense the best pass-blocking it had seen from the position in a couple of years.
Although Morris' foot speed wasn't what it was during his 1,000-yard seasons, what he brought to the Giants offense was some good hard running between the tackles in which he patiently let his blocking develop and then followed the roadmap laid out before him.
It's unknown if Morris plans to continue playing or if he'll retire, but all things considered, his nine-game audition for the Giants went quite well given the circumstances.
Why the Giants Should Re-Sign Morris
Other than for Saquon Barkley, the Giants currently have no running backs with any notable NFL experience on the roster, and that's a problem. Why? Because typically, young running backs who come from the draft struggle with pass blocking, a very big part of a running back's responsibility.
Morris didn't have that problem. Of the Giants running backs, he was the second-best graded blocker by PFF behind Devonta Freeman. Morris was also the second-best running back behind Wayne Gallman.
If Morris is open to re-signing on another one-year Veteran Salary Deal (formerly known as the Veteran Minimum Salary Benefit), that should be a no-brainer for a Giants team who likely won't be in a position to splurge on fringe players given their own delicate salary cap situation.
Why the Giants Should Let Morris Walk
The only argument for not bringing Morris back is price. If he intends to get a better deal than a one-year Veteran Salary Benefit, then the Giants should pass and not think twice about it.
OTHER 2021 GIANTS UFA PRIMERS
1-year, $1,127,500--This would include a $990,000 base salary (the minimum for a player like Morris who has between 7-9 years accrued experience), and $137,500 in additional bonuses (signing, roster, etc.), which would be the maximum for the contract to qualify as a Veteran Salary Benefit.
Under the terms of such a deal, Morris would count the same as a player with two years of accrued experience, or $780,000 plus the $137,500 bonuses--$917,500 total.
It would be surprising if the Giants bring Wayne Gallman back for reasons outlined in this primer, but if Morris is up for another one-year deal, it makes too much sense for both sides to pass.
For one, the Giants wouldn't save that much if they went with a draft pick or undrafted free agent (assuming, again, Morris agrees to come back on a one-year Veteran Salary Benefit.) Second, the Giants would be getting experience in navigating through the tackles and in pass blocking.
While optimism remains high for Saquon Barkley's full return, the Giants can't run the risk of not bringing back at least one of their veteran running backs just in case. (And even if Barkley is on track to return, does anyone think he'll be given a full pre-injury workload?)
Morris showed last year that he was an asset to the offense as a rotational back in relief and/or in a third-down role. There's no reason to think that would change if he's re-signed.
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