New Giants running back Jonathan Stewart, who will turn 31 this month, said he has “a lot left” and that there is “a lot I feel I want to prove” as he heads into his 11th NFL season. But he also knows that the Giants signed him to a two-year contract on Tuesday not just because of his production in the past or the future.
There are plenty of running backs around who averaged 3.4 yards per carry in 2017, after all.
No, he’s with the Giants to instill the type of culture and camaraderie that new Giants general manager Dave Gettleman often talks about the Panthers having, especially in 2015 when they went to the Super Bowl.
“It was very special,” Stewart said of the Carolina culture during a conference call on Wednesday. “Having a group of guys who meshed well and had a good chemistry with no egos attached. Just understanding the end goal, which is to win championships. To have a family-oriented culture. Moving forward I’m pretty sure that’s kind of the culture that New York is expecting to have next year, which is why I gravitated toward the decision with the Giants.”
He also has familiarity with many on the Giants staff. Gettleman was his general manager for several years in Carolina. New Giants offensive coordinator Mike Shula served in that role with the Panthers. Wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert coached the Panthers in 2010. And special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey was with the Panthers too.
To stick around and make his contract (reportedly worth up to $8.2 million with incentives and a guarantee of $2.95 million) worth it for the Giants, though, he’ll have to contribute on the field as well as off it. Stewart will join a very young running backs room, which figures to include second-year player Wayne Gallman and third-year player Paul Perkins. The Giants could also draft a running back, perhaps even Saquon Barkley at No. 2 overall.
“I expect to compete at the end of the day,” Stewart said. “If you’re not competing, not expecting to have competition among the group, you shouldn’t be in the business. It doesn’t make you better if you’re not willing to compete.”
That will be one of the lessons he provides in the room.
“I’m going into my 11th year at running back and this is my first new team,” he said. “I’m definitely excited to go in there and share my bits of wisdom about being a professional, and also learning from the young guys as well. There is always room for growth and I’m excited to be a part of that running back group. I’m sure we have a lot to look forward to at the end of the day.”