Earth and Wind: Thoughts on the New York Giants Backfield.

By Nick Larocque | Jul 22, 2011

Nick Laham/Getty Images

 

Drew Rosenhaus is great at his job.  As far as I can remember, he always has been.  You don’t end up with a self-made net worth of 65 million by being mediocre.  Guys like Rosenhaus and his baseball counterpart Scott Boras are often portrayed in the media as villains.  I don’t believe either of them are bad guys.  And, if I were an NFL player, Rosenhaus is absolutely the guy with which I’d want to sign.

Unfortunately, it’s the nature of his work that often loses Rosenhaus favor with football fans.  We as fans place much more importance on the well-being of our team than we do on the well-being of any individual player.  Unlike us, he doesn’t have allegiances to any teams.  During contract time, his goals and the goals of our teams are at odds with each other.  Therefore, it feels like he’s at odds with us.

But, the truth of the matter is that he provides an important service.  The owners and general managers of these franchises are extremely business-savvy.  Without agents, the players would be at a major disadvantage from a negotiating standpoint.  The careers of NFL players are extremely short, and they risk injury every time they step on the field.  They should be trying to get as much money as they can.  And, even though we understand that, we’re sometimes too quick to cast judgement on players as “greedy” when they leave our favorite team in free agency for more money.  So, in times like that, the agent really is the only relevant person looking out for the best interests of the player.  I wouldn’t want an NFL without agents.

There’s no question that Rosenhaus is one of the best.  To a man, his clients all gush about how much he cares about the players he represents, what close relationships he builds with them, and how supportive he is.  Do you think it’s easy to stand up on a stage with TO when he’s made himself the laughing stock of the NFL? No.  But, that’s when Rosenhaus’s services are needed the most.

Of course you can be extremely cynical about this video, and obviously the person who put it together is making fun of it.  But, if you’re Plaxico Burress, isn’t this the type of guy who you want looking out for you:

 

 

Why the Rosenhaus lovefest?  He’s a guy who is figuring prominently in the Giants offseason as the agent representing Ahmad Bradshaw, and I just think it’s important for you to understand my perspective on this before I get started.

 

 

Back in February, things seemed to be lining up just right.  Ahmad Bradshaw wanted the Giants, and the Giants wanted him.  This was a guy who only made $550,000 last season, while Reggie Bush was making eight million.  This is a guy who played with a fractured wrist and an ankle that would require surgery, but who never used his injuries as an excuse for fumbles or his decline in production late in the season.  This is a guy who Tom Coughlin absolutely loves because of how hard he runs (although refusing to go down does cause him to put the ball on the ground too often) and because of his versatility.

Despite his injuries, AB averaged four and a half yards per carry last season on his way to over 1200 yards.  He’s got the speed to get to the outside, but is also extremely effective between the tackles and in short-yardage situations.  He’s also an excellent receiver out of the backfield.

I’m putting this final part separately so you don’t skip over it, because a lot of you don’t realize it.  No back was kept in to pass protect more than Bradshaw last season, and there’s a case to be made that he is the best back in the league at picking up blitzes (here’s the proof from Pro Football Prospectus. please click!).  He’s got all the tangibles and intangibles that you look for in a football player.  This guy really was the total package last season.  Throw in the $555,000 price tag and I’d challenge you to find me someone who was a better value in 2010.

So, yeah.  If he wants to explore the market and test his value, he’s earned that right.  I’d be disappointed if he walked away from the Giants, but I’d have nothing but appreciation for what he’s done.

But, the thing is, he’s never indicated that he’s interested in playing anywhere but New York.  Ever since the season ended in February, he’s done nothing but talk about how much he loves New York, how close he is with Brandon Jacobs, and how he hopes to be back in Giants blue.

Enter Drew Rosenhaus.  As I said, this is the reason people hate him.  Why can’t he just let us all be happy!!??

 

 

Sure, he could just let AB continue stating publicly that there’s only one team on his radar, giving up his negotiating leverage with the Giants in the process.  Then, when the lockout is lifted, the Giants would offer Bradshaw a deal good enough to get him to sign, but not close to where he might top out on the open market (they’re over the cap right now, so they’re going to have to trim a lot as it is).  Giants fans all across America, myself included, would be ecstatic.  The Giants front office would be thrilled.  Ahmad Bradshaw himself would probably feel pretty good.

So, what’s the problem?

The problem is that in the above scenario Rosenhaus would not have done his job.  In fact, that scenario could have taken place without any agent at all.  Ahmad Bradshaw is paid for his ability to carry the football, not his ability to negotiate.  He hired his agent so that he’d have somebody who knows the business looking out for his best interests.  I’d even say that after the season AB had, he wouldn’t be out of line to fire Rosenhaus if the above scenario took place.  But, if we’re to take Bradshaw at his word, he’s had a pretty clear idea of what he wants all along.  So, what could Rosenhaus do?

He had to take matters into his own hands.

 

 

I can’t say that I was surprised or overly concerned when news came out that Rosenhaus had gone on television and stated that Bradshaw was interested in playing for the Dolphins.  First of all, there’s no real news in that statement.  By virtue of the fact that he’s a free agent, he’s “interested” in playing for everyone.  The Dolphins are going to be in the market for a back (it’s a virtual certainty that Ronnie Brown is done in Miami), and so it stands to reason that they’d be interested in a young, talented guy like AB.  So, none of this is really news.  And, it was the first in what I assume will be a long campaign of transparent attempts to boost AB’s stock through the media.  Notice I said transparent, not ineffective.  I don’t think this will prevent the Giants from signing AB, but I do think it’s made the margin for error a bit thinner.

 

Her name is Jess Snyder, in case she's mad that I'm using this pic without using her name.

 

Bradshaw responded to the statements from Rosenhaus Monday night in a radio interview with Bill Daughtry.  I’d highly recommend giving it a listen if you’re a Giants fan.  The interview not only stressed that Bradshaw remains hopeful to be a Giant next season, but that he hadn’t expressed particular interest in Miami at all.

Take a look at this quote in response to what Rosenhaus said about Miami (I’ve bolded what I consider to be the key parts):

 

“Well, that’s new news to me man.  You know, I love New York more than anything and (uh) you know that would be my first option right now and (uh) I wouldn’t have to look at further deals after that.”

 

New news.  So, Bradshaw wasn’t telling Rosenhaus explicitly that he was interested in Miami, which would be a departure from what we’ve heard from him all offseason.  As of now, he’s still singing the same song.  He loves New York, and if they can get a deal done, he doesn’t want to look any further.  He also stressed several times throughout the interview that the free agency process was stressful and that he was looking forward to it being over.

So, immediately, we don’t see any drastic changes to the status quo.  But, don’t underestimate what Rosenhaus has done here.  He’s planted a seed in Bradshaw’s head.  It’s a seed that could blossom into resentment if the Giants don’t smother it with money and affection.  At the same time, he’s sent the message to the Giants that they’d better step up their game.  There are other fish in the sea, and his client doesn’t need to settle.

Suddenly, even though AB’s feelings haven’t changed, the whole nature of these negotiations have.  If the Giants make Bradshaw feel unappreciated at all in this process, Rosenhaus will pounce.  If they bring up the fact that he’s had both ankles and both feet operated on over the past two offseasons, which is a normal factor for a team to consider when arriving at a number, it will be seen as a slap in the face because those injuries were sustained while he was being underpaid.  When they try to convince Bradshaw to take a hometown discount because of their cap situation, Rosenhaus will say that they’re taking him for granted, and that’s where the resentment will start to grow.

I expect Ahmad Bradshaw to be wearing #44 for the Giants next season.  The Giants may not be able to break the bank and pay him his maximum market value, but they’ve said he’s they’re number one priority so I expect them to make him a fair offer.  But, if he is somewhere else, look back to this move by Rosenhaus as the point at which things began to unravel.  It’s not because he’s a bad guy.  It’s because he’s a great agent.

 

Suck on that Babcock.

 

The Giants will have other options if Bradshaw can’t be resigned, but because of all the promising signs, I’m in “let’s cross that bridge when we come to it” mode.  Moving forward with this article, let’s assume Bradshaw is a Giant in 2011.

The Giants will have one of the most expensive and formidable backfields in the entire league.  Brandon Jacobs averaged 5.6 yards per carry last year, which was third in the league amongst guys who had at least 6.25 rushing attempts per game.  Despite Jacob’s concern that the team wouldn’t be able to retain both he and Bradshaw, all indications from Jerry Reese are that Jacobs will remain a Giant and will likely see more than the 823 attempts he had last season.  If the two backs can remain healthy, this is a great situation for the Giants.  They’re built to run the ball, and they have a quarterback who is exceptional at play action.

Jacobs and Bradshaw have both said many times that they are close (both have even said “brothers”).  That might be tested this season.  These are two guys who are extremely competitive and well-paid.  In order for the Giants to be as successful as possible, these two must function like a cohesive unit.  As I’ve already said, indications from the Giants are that although they’re going to be paying Bradshaw more than Jacobs, he may see his carries decrease from last season, while Jacobs’ carries increase.  He needs to be ok with that.  The other issue that will need to be addressed is who will be slotted as the team’s starting running back.

Bradshaw was the starting running back for most of last season.  He lost that job to Jacobs at the end.  While Bradshaw is the more talented back, I believe that the best option for the Giants is to have Jacobs start each half in the backfield.  For as long as I’ve been a fan, the Giants have built their success (of lack of success) on establishing (or failing to establish) a physical presence early in games.  By using Jacobs to start halves, the Giants can pound the opposition, wearing down defensive fronts.  This will make it easier for Bradshaw to use his explosiveness and shiftiness to get to the second level and break tackles in the open field.  Again, if this is going happen, Bradshaw needs to understand that he wasn’t beat out for a starting spot, but instead that they are each going to get their touches and that they’re part of a larger offensive scheme.

 

Alright, this was post number 1 from me at Chat Giants.  Please keep checking back.  This lockout seems to be about done and it’s time to kick some ass:

 

 



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