Like any good running back, Devonta Freeman waited for the right hole to open up, then ran through it quickly. In this case, the hole was on the Giants’ roster and after an offseason plus two weeks being a free agent, he wasted little time reaching a decision on his next team.
Freeman is expected to sign with the Giants and practice on Wednesday, a source confirmed on Tuesday. NFL Network first reported the agreement.
For the Giants, the two-time Pro Bowler gives them another proven back to help replace Saquon Barkley, who was officially placed on injured reserve with a torn ACL. For Freeman, who had opportunities with other teams as a more clearly defined backup, he should have a chance to get more carries and catches and re-establish himself as a top back in the league before hitting free agency again next spring.
Freeman, 28, had two 1,000-yard rushing seasons (2015 and ‘16) in six years with the Falcons, scoring 32 rushing touchdowns. He also has 257 career catches and 11 TDs, with a high of 73 receptions in 2015. In 2017, he signed a five-year extension with the Falcons, but he missed most of 2018 with injuries and was used sparingly in 2019 before being released in March.
He becomes the most decorated option in the backfield for the Giants, who also have Dion Lewis and Wayne Gallman. Until Freeman gets up to speed with the playbook, it may well be Lewis and Gallman who handle the job.
"We respect the things Wayne brings to the table, we respect Dion, and I think Dion did a great job filling in on Sunday," running backs coach Burton Burns said Tuesday. "We’ve got to figure out what their qualities are and we’ve got to fit it into our offensive scheme and just be efficient."
As for Barkley, Burns said he thinks he has already come to grips with the reality of his injury.
"Obviously, he’s very disappointed, like we all are," Burns said. "I think he’s such a professional, it’s a hard challenge, but he’s kind of moved on, like ‘OK, what’s next?’ "
For Barkley? Surgery and rehab.
For the Giants? It’s Freeman.