On Wednesday, the New York Giants made the somewhat surprising announcement that they were releasing their longtime running back, Ahmad Bradshaw. The six-year veteran was a salary cap casualty and became expendable with the emergence of Andre Brown late in the 2012 season. Meanwhile, a few states west of the home of the Meadowlands, the Cincinnati Bengals are in dire need of assistance at the running back position. Seems like it could be a good fit, right?
As ESPN College Gameday announcer Lee Corso likes to say: "not so fast, my friend!".
Bradshaw does fit the type of runner that the Bengals could covet in the AFC North division. He has decent speed and elusiveness, and always seems to finish his runs with authority--all things that play well against the bruisers that are the Bengals' rivals. With a 4.6 yards per carry average and 132 receptions in his six year career, there's a lot to like about Bradshaw and him fitting in with the orange and black.
What Bradshaw also has is a recent slew of injuries. Another reason for Bradshaw's release could be that it was recently discovered that he needs a screw replaced in his foot--a procedure that could take up to ten weeks to heal. Now, that's enough time to potentially return for minicamps and Training Camp, but multiple foot procedures on a six-year veteran running back is troubling. One could argue that Bradshaw became the main running back in the Giants' offense back in 2009. In those last four seasons, Bradshaw has only played all 16 games in one season (2010, which was by far his most productive year as a pro) and has missed seven total games in that span.
Furthermore, Bradshaw has had some fumbling issues in his career. From 2008 to 2012, he fumbled the ball 15 total times, with his productive 2010 season being marred with seven giveaways. Keep in mind that for nearly his entire career, Bradshaw has shared the load of carrying the ball so those fumbles makes one cringe a bit more than at first glance.
All in all, it depends on if the Bengals are getting the guy from 2010 that had over 1,200 yards, 47 catches and eight touchdowns (as well as those seven fumbles), or the guy who was plagued by injuries in 2010 and 2012. Bradshaw could be a decent fit in offensive coordinator Jay Gruden's "running back by committee" plan that he has been trying to implement since last season.
The big kicker will be the cost that Bradshaw is going to demand of teams. Because of his injury history and fumbling issues, a low-cost deal would be better-served for the Bengals and could be a good addition to a stable with BenJarvus Green-Ellis and a combination of rookies and/or other veterans. If Bradshaw wants a premium deal, complete with the designation of the go-to back in the Bengals' system, they should probably pass and look to the draft and even re-signing some familiar faces.