Why the New York Giants overspent on running back Devontae Booker

Devontae Booker, New York Giants

When it comes to New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley, caution should be exercised with his rehabilitation from my torn MCL, ACL, and partially torn meniscus in week two of last season.

Barkley has been working vigorously to make a return to the Giants and prepare for Week one in 2021, but the expectation is that the team and training staff will ease him along slowly, ensuring that he’s 100% healthy to start the campaign.

While the star back is making positive progress, an injury such as this can be problematic, as it involves multiple ligaments that experienced severe structural damage. The expectation is that he will miss a majority of training camp and might squeak in a few reps during pre-season to help him gain his footing after missing nearly a year of football activities.

Ownership remains optimistic that he will be a full GO come the start of the season, but the Giants made a supplementary move to help limit and mitigate Saquon’s loss and progression early on.

“We fully expect him to be as good as new,” Giants co-owner John Mara stated several months ago regarding Barkley’s rehab.

The Giants went out and signed Devontae Booker, formerly of the Denver Broncos and Las Vegas Raiders. Booker signed a two-year, $5.5 million deal with the Giants, including a $2 million signing bonus and $2 million guaranteed. You can make the argument that the Giants overspent on the career backup, having only started in seven games over five seasons.

Nonetheless, Booker offers a quality runner who can contribute in multiple facets, especially when it comes to supplementing Barkley and how the Giants plan to use him in 2021.

What does Booker bring to the New York Giants?

Last season, Booker played in all 16 games, earning 93 rushing attempts and logging 423 yards and three touchdowns. Through the air, he hauled in 17 receptions for 84 yards. He is an average receiving back with solid rushing capabilities but also represents an adequate pass blocker, which was a major weakness for the Giants in protecting Daniel Jones last year.

One of the factors that I like about Booker is that he’s only fumbled three times over the past three seasons, compared to Dion Lewis, the Giants’ back-up last year, who fumbled three times alone in 2020.

Booker also has value as a kick returner, taking 61 kickoffs in 2020 —  an underrated aspect he can contribute in. Ultimately, the Giants will likely need to ease Barkley into the season, as a structurally repaired knee requires time and guidance to fully recover from. For example, let’s reference Dalvin Cook in this situation, as he suffered hamstring injuries following his torn ACL after rushing his way back. If the Giants take things slow with Barkley and make sure he’s 100% ready to go, they can avoid any secondary injuries.

The Booker signing might’ve been a bit expensive considering the options on the market, but he is a solid player with value across the board as a kick returner, pass blocker, and adequate running back. In other words, he can get the job done in the Giants’ power-gap scheme, as he gets to the line of scrimmage faster than any other RB in the league from the “I” formation. Some consider Booker a 3-down back at the NFL level that was simply stuck splitting time with Phillip Lindsay and then backing up Josh Jacobs last season.

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