The Giants have always been intrigued by the potential of running back Orleans Darkwa -- just not enough to pay him $1.797 million.
An NFL source confirmed that the Giants will not be tendering the 25-year-old restricted free agent, making him an unrestricted free agent as of 4 p.m. on Thursday. There have been some discussions about Darkwa returning at a lesser price, but a source indicated he will test the free agent market first.
The original-round RFA tender has been set at $1.797 million, which is what it would've cost the Giants to retain the right to match any contract offer Darkwa receives. But with only 287 rushing yards over three NFL seasons, the 6-foot, 215-pounder likely won't get anywhere near that much from another team.
His stats, though, don't tell his full story. A former undrafted free agent out of Tulane, the Giants signed him off the Dolphins' practice squad in 2014. He seemed to add some much-needed power to the Giants' running game in 2015, rushing 36 times for 153 yards in his very limited action. Last season he actually made two starts on the Giants' miserable early-season road trip through Minnesota and Green Bay. He rushed 19 times in those two games for 59 yards.
Darkwa was battling a fractured leg, though, since last spring. It never fully healed and eventually ended his season in late November. He underwent surgery in December and is expected to be ready to be at least a limited participant in spring drills.
The Giants have only one other restricted free agent -- defensive end Kerry Wynn. It was not immediately clear what they plan to do with him, but they have to make a decision before free agency begins. Wynn is also a former undrafted free agent, so if the Giants signed him to the low tender they would not be entitled to any compensation.
The "second-round" compensation tender is $2.746 million and the "first-round" tender is $3.91 million, but Wynn isn't likely to receive either of those.