There were three games this season in which Orleans Darkwa carried the ball 20 times or more.
The Giants were 3-0 in those games. Every other game was a loss for the Giants.
Certainly there were other factors in those fleeting victories, but Darkwa can make a case that he was really the only player whose production was directly related to the team’s minimal success. And that’s a pretty good way to head into free agency.
Darkwa said after Sunday’s game that he’s not sure if he’ll be back with the Giants.
“We’ll see what happens,” he said. “I love the fans here. Love the players. I’ve been here for a while and it’s definitely been fun, but I’m looking forward to the future and I’m not going to sit here and say I’m going to be back. I don’t know what the future holds.”
But he also said that he thinks he can be an every-down back for some NFL team.
“Definitely,” he said. “I feel like I can do it. Just the style I run with.”
The Giants’ backfield, like most positions, is certain to see some changes this offseason. Rookie running back Wayne Gallman, who emerged in the second half of the season, is probably the only player who can count on being back with a degree of certainty. Darkwa is a free agent. Paul Perkins, who began the season as the starter, ended it at the bottom of the depth chart. And veteran Shane Vereen probably won’t return.
That doesn’t include the possibility of the Giants using an early-round draft pick on a running back. Like, say, Saquon Barkley from Penn State.
“It’s definitely going to look different, whether it’s here, whether it’s with another team,” Darkwa said of what he expects for 2018. “I don’t know what the future holds but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. The season wasn’t what we hoped for, but I’ve enjoyed every minute with this team.”
And he’s proven he can play in the NFL. He finished the season as the team’s leading rusher. In fact, his 751 yards are the second-most in a season by a Giants running back since 2012 when Ahmad Bradshaw had the last 1,000-yard season for the team.
“It’s a blessing to be in this league and like you know, it’s a business,” he said. “You know how it goes. So right now we’re going into the offseason. There’s a lot of stuff to get ready for, but I’m happy to get to training and get ready for next year.”