Jonathan Stewart probably isn't the dynamic, dual-threat running back that new Giants coach Pat Shurmur said he's looking for anymore. But he could be a big help to their sagging rushing game anyway.
The veteran running back will get his shot to help the Giants next season after he officially signed with them on Tuesday evening. Stewart, who will turn 31 next week, got a two-year deal that could be worth as much as $8.4 million, according to the NFL Network, including $2.95 million guaranteed. That seems like a lot for an aging player coming off the worst full season of his career. But he's joining a rushing attack that ranked 26th in the NFL last season, and new Giants GM Dave Gettleman - who had Stewart in Carolina - is convinced he can give that running game a boost.
"He is a quality runner with power and speed and brings a veteran, professional presence to our locker room," Gettleman said. "He's a terrific addition for us at this time."
Shurmur hasn't made clear what his plans are for the Giants at running back. Orleans Darkwa, who has seemed like the Giants best running back the last few years, is an unrestricted free agent. So is Shane Vereen, their third-down back. That leaves the Giants with Wayne Gallman, who had 476 yards on 11 carries as a rookie last season, and Paul Perkins, who began last season as the Giants' starting running back but ended up carrying the ball only 41 times.
Stewart comes to the Giants after 10 seasons in Carolina, where he was their all-time leading rusher with 7,318 yards. He was cut by the Panthers in late February after averaging a career worst 3.4 yards per carry last season, which is why he was able to sign before the free agent signing period officially starts on Wednesday.
With the Giants, Stewart will almost certainly not be expected to be anything close to the feature back. He will play a supporting role to whomever the top backs turn out to be.