Mike Garafalo of the Star Ledger is reporting that the Giants have released running back Brandon Jacobs this afternoon after the two sides could not come to a financial agreement. Jacobs was set to earn $4.4 million as his base salary, plus a $500,000 bonus, in 2012. Although Jacobs stated that he would take a pay cut to remain a Giant, it seems as though the pay cut the Giants had in mind was a bit more than what Jacobs was expecting.
This move, though it will upset a few Giants fans, makes sense for the team. First, with the emergence of Ahmad Bradshaw as a trustworthy, work-horse-type no. 1 running back, it doesn't leave many carries for Jacobs. Along these same lines, paying Jacobs $5 million to only carry the ball a few times per game does not make sense for the Giants financially. The steep price it would cost the Giants to keep both RB's (around $8 million for both Bradshaw and Jacobs) makes the decision to let Jacobs go a bit easier. The move frees up a bit of cap space for the Giants heading into the off-season and will allow them to fill some of their roster holes as well as possibly upgrading their offensive line (ranked 31st in 2011).
With Jacobs being released and the Bengals looking toward a "running-back-by-committee" scheme, would Jacobs be a good fit in Cincinnati alongside of Bernard Scott, Brian Leonard, or an unknown draft pick?
The Bengals have been tied to Raiders free agent running back Michael Bush and, in light of this, it would come as no surprise if the Bengals became linked to Jacobs as well. Both backs have the same bulky body type and they have the same aggressive, hard-nose style of play that would be a good fit in the AFC North. Bigger backs have flourished in the AFC North because of the style of play in the conference but with the Bengals offense moving to the West Coast style, would a back comparable to Jerome Bettis or Jamal Lewis fit in the system?
Gruden has made it clear that the Bengals are moving to a committee running game and Jacobs has shown that he is okay with splitting time and he actually performs better when in that type of system. In 2010, a few years after the Giants started the committee running game-plan, Bradshaw had more yards and carries than Jacobs, but Jacobs' averaged 5.6 yards per carry and showed that when his legs are fresh and he is running against a tired, wore down defense, Jacobs can finish the game out (something that the Bengals severely lacked this past year with Cedric Benson). Not only this, but because of the committee system Jacobs has been in and though he is 29 years old, his body has not taken the beating that a full work-load would give him and he is going to be able to perform at a higher level for an extended period of time.
Jacobs has had his fair-share of criticisms as a result of his lack of aggressiveness and, at times, his attitude. Regardless of what is said about Jacobs, his numbers don't lie (4th leading rusher in Giants history with 4,859 yards and all-time leader with 56 touchdowns in his 5 seasons with the Giants). Jacobs has said that he hopes to play for "three more years" and he will likely find a team through free agency that is more than willing to pay him for his services. Are the Bengals that team? Are they in need of a short term fix at RB that Jacobs could bring (only "three more years") or something more long-term that a draft pick or Michael Bush (27 years old, but only four years in the NFL) could provide for the Bengals?