Shane Vereen was touted as more than just a running back when he signed a three-year, $12.35 million contract with the Giants prior to the 2015 season. They felt they were getting a weapon - someone who could be a versatile runner, a receiver out of the backfield, and even a deep threat who could be split wide.
Thought it wasn't all his fault, his explosive potential never really materialized. In 2015 he totaled just 754 yards. This season, he had only 252 in the five games he played, putting him on roughly the same place. He also tore his triceps and missed half the season. Then he came back and tore it again.
So, should he stay or should he go?
Vereen will turn 28 in March and is due $3.65 million in 2017, with a cap number of $4.9 million. Cutting him would clear about $3.3 million in cap space. The Giants need a third-down back and he's been a solid, but unspectacular one. The cost isn't high, but could they do better by using the money in some other way?
The case for retaining Vereen:
An argument can be made that, when healthy, he was underused. He was pigeon-holed into the role of third-down and two-minute-drill back and was good in that role. His numbers could've been better if his role was expanded.
The expectations for him as a dangerous weapon were too high. But he's been an effective receiver, catching 70 passes in 21 games, and he's averaged 4.4 yards per carry. Those numbers aren't bad.
He's relatively young and in six NFL seasons he's only carried the ball 311 times and caught 177 passes. Once he's recovered from his triceps problem there should be no immediate worries about his health or his body breaking down.
Paul Perkins can't do it all and will need a veteran presence in the backfield. With Rashad Jennings' future up in the air, Vereen could be Perkins' mentor and help share his workload.
The case for letting him go:
Some believe 28 is old for a running back, and that once the health issues start they don't stop. Landing on IR twice with a triceps injury last year would then be a big red flag.
He never lived up to his promise. He is a decent specialty back, but was rarely explosive or a dangerous weapon, and $4.9 million is a lot of cap space to spend on someone just good.
The Giants found Perkins late in the draft and he did well as a rookie, which shows the Giants could find an adequate and younger replacement for Vereen in the draft.
Clearing $3.3 million isn't huge, but the Giants' needs along the offensive line are huge and every little bit helps. Improving the running game is more about bolstering the offensive line than who the running backs are.
Tough call since the price is relatively low. He has been a bit of a disappointment and his injury last season was concerning. But the potential is there and he's shown flashes of the explosiveness the Giants thought they were getting. Since he's still only 28 and not too beat up, he's probably worth it.
Again, consider that if the Giants let him go their backfield becomes thin - especially if they also cut Jennings. They'd also need to replace him, which isn't easy considering pass blocking is a big part of his role. He can block and run and catch and in a pass-heavy offense. That's important.
So maybe do a small restructure, but don't sweat it if they can't get it done. Regardless, Vereen should stay.