The New York Giants signed running back Bobby Rainey this past Sunday. Rainey spent the past three seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers playing behind Doug Martin. Rainey announced the signing on his Instagram account.
Rainey had a brief role as the lead back in 2013. In the wake of Martin’s season-ending injury, Rainey stepped up. He ran for 532 yards and scored six touchdowns that season. Rainey hasn’t done much since because he hasn’t had enough playing time.
The Buccaneers drafted running back Charles Sims in 2014, who collected 529 yards and scored no touchdowns last season. Sims looks like he can be a fine backup for Martin, so the Buccaneers elected to let Rainey walk and stick with Sims. It wasn’t long before Rainey was added to Jerry Reese’s free agency spending spree. The signing came just in time for the beginning of offseason workouts.
The signing of Rainey also hints that the Giants may not draft Ohio State Buckeyes’ star running back Ezekiel Elliott, despite what analysts are saying. The signing could mean that the Giants aren’t interested or simply that they are taking a precaution because they don’t expect Elliott to fall to the 10th overall pick.
Even if the Giants do draft Elliott, the odds are that Rainey makes the cut above both Andre Williams and Orleans Darkwa. Both players weren’t that impressive last season and failed to become major contributors. If the Giants do decide to draft Elliot, they would have a pretty scary tandem of running backs. After the 2016 preseason, the final running backs would likely be Elliott, Shane Vereen, Rashad Jennings, and Rainey.
Rainey is moving to a team that desperately needs some help running the ball. Giants’ starter Rashad Jennings does have some impactful moments, but he is definitely not the long-term solution. Jennings is 32 years old and had an injury-riddled career. He shows some promise when he is able to take the field, but that isn’t very often these days.
Shane Vereen is nothing more than a pass catcher and a third-down specialist. He doesn’t have the durability to be an every down running back. That leaves Darkwa and Williams, who couldn’t take advantage of the Giants’ poor running back situation in the first place.
Darkwa showed some promise towards the tail end of the 2015 season, but nothing special enough to make him a contender for the starting role. This is exactly why the Rainey signing has much more impact than most think.
Rainey is still in the younger years of his career at the prime age of 28. He was viewed as an above average second string running back on the Buccaneers. Let’s not forget that he was playing side by side with Doug Martin. He could have more of an impact on the Giants because they lack a clear cut star player at the position.
Rainey could easily be the next Justin Forsett. Forsett bounced around the NFL for years. He ended up being a perfect fit in Baltimore Ravens’ offensive system. Forsett carved out a starting role with the team.
Forsett proved to be an effective running back in 2014 and earned himself a new deal with the Ravens the next year because of it. All he needed was the right situation to thrive. The odds are that Jennings still reprises his role as the starter, but Rainey will definitely give him a run for his money.
If Rainey shows that he can be a more effective three-down option in training camp and the preseason, Jennings may be in a little trouble. In the event that Rainey doesn’t start, he will still be a valuable contributor and change of pace back.
[Photo by Cliff McBride/Getty Images]