The Giants continued to make roster moves today as they released veteran running back and fan-favorite, Ahmad Bradshaw. Bradshaw was due a base salary of $3.75 million this season, a $750k bump from his $3 million salary last season in which he played hurt and rushed for 1,050 yards in 14 games. Bradshaw now becomes an unrestricted free agent as he is a vested veteran.
The Giants also parted ways with Chris Canty who was due a $6.25 million base salary this season (plus a $250k workout bonus) and $6.5 million the following season. Canty, who missed the first 6 games of the season after undergoing knee surgery, started the next 9 games in which he played while contributing 31 tackles (24 solo) and 3 sacks.
By releasing Bradshaw, it looks like the Giants decided to go with their younger and healthier runnings backs in David Wilson and Andre Brown. However, they could add a third running back through the draft, trade or via free agency. But this is all about the salary cap and the fact that the Giants were projected to be $4.7 million over the cap this season. After releasing Boley, they looked at Bradshaw and his most recent foot surgery to replace a screw in his troublesome right foot. The concern over his health and his increased salary proved to be the underlying reasons for his release. Nonetheless, to me, it shows that they have extreme confidence in 2012 rookie first-rounder David Wilson, and his expected backup, Andre Brown. This tandem helped the Giants’ running game tremendously last season, especially when Bradshaw was not 100%. Brown shined in Week 3 with 113 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns, a game Bradshaw missed due to injury. He ended up finishing with a 8 rushing touchdowns on the season which was a team-high. Also, Wilson overcame his fumbling issues and put together a breakout rookie season, especially in December when the Giants needed him most for their playoff push.
I believe the Giants will be fine in the backfield with Wilson and Brown, and anyone else they decide to bring in for a roster spot. If Bradshaw is healthy, he will be sure to land a job elsewhere since he is a workhorse and only 26 years old, plus several teams have need at the RB position.
If my calculations are accurate, the Giants just cleared $13.75 million in cap space by releasing three veterans (Boley, Bradshaw, Canty). The toughest one to lose is Bradshaw, as he was a Coughlin-favorite and loved by the fans for his toughness and energy. Then again, he has only played a full 16-game schedule once in his 6 years in the league and the Giants have young, speedy backs ready to fill his cleats, so this could be the best move for both sides. Giants fans: remember that is a business and cost-cutting moves like this are part of the game. Bradshaw will surely be missed. He leaves with 4,232 rush yards, good for 6th most in franchise history.
Here’s a few quotes from the Giants front office (via Giants.com):
Jerry Reese: “Pound for pound, Bradshaw is one of the toughest football players that I’ve been around,” “Ahmad played football like Giants football should be played.”
Coach Tom Coughlin: “Ahmad Bradshaw was drafted 250th in a class of 255 and to excel and to perform the way that he has, and to accomplish what he has, is a great tribute to him,” “He is not only an exceptional football player, but he is the epitome of line up and play. Regardless of the circumstances, he’s going to give you everything he’s got. If you give the ball to him, he’s going to get every inch of what is there – and sometimes when it’s not blocked, he still gets it.”