Rashad Jennings came to the Giants as a bargain in 2014 -- an underused, versatile running back that cost only $10 million over four years. He was going to two-way player in the backfield that then-offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo wanted to feature.
Three years later, Jennings is about to turn 32 years old and he's averaged just 939 total yards (rushing and receiving) during his three seasons with the Giants. He's due $2.48 million in salary in 2017 and carries a cap number of $3.06 million. If the Giants cut him now, they'd clear $2.5 million in salary cap space.
So, should he stay or should he go?
Jennings is a reliable veteran who has proven to be a mentor to the Giants' young backs, particularly rookie Paul Perkins. He's also been a good soldier, accepting a reduced role without complaint. But even at a low cap number, is he worth keeping at an age that is old for his position?
The case for retaining Jennings:
Perkins may be the future, but he's going to need a strong backup since no one knows if he can hold up over a full season. He certainly did in college, but his pro resume consists of only 112 carries (for 456 yards).
Jennings is low-mileage. Despite being a veteran of eight NFL seasons, he still hasn't totaled 1,000 carries (he's averaged just 116.25 per year). So he's not as beat up as the average soon-to-be-32-year-old running back.
Jennings' biggest problem has been the poor offensive line in front of him. Rather than spending money or draft picks on a different backup running back, it makes more sense to keep Jennings at a low cost and spend the money/picks on fixing the line.
The case for letting him go:
Running backs don't get better at age 32, no matter how much mileage is on their bodies.
Jennings has played a full, 16-game season once in his career (2015). He misses a few games every year with injuries, and often has to battle through them when he plays. That won't get better with age, either.
Perkins is the future, despite his limited NFL resume. The presence of a former starter behind him could be counterproductive no matter how much Jennings accepts his role.
The cap savings isn't much, but every little bit helps. The $2.5 million could go towards offensive line depth or a younger backup for Perkins, who could be just as productive.
Jennings' presence in the locker room and the impact he could have on Perkins is worth at least offering him a pay cut to the league minimum. For Jennings it might be worth it because at 32, with his history of injuries and lack of recent production, he's not likely to get more than that elsewhere.
But he is a minimum-salary guy at this point. Perkins is the future. The position of running back is for the young. And in a bottom-line business, Jennings' production in his three-year Giants career doesn't justify spending any more on him next year.