Zac’s Note: This piece was first published on my Examiner page
The New York Giants running back, set to become a free agent on February 27, appears to already have one foot out of New York. Two days ago, Ward told ESPN’s Jim Rome what we already knew:
Ward wants to be a starting running back in the NFL. That is something that just won’t happen if Ward stays with the Giants. Ward went on to mention three teams, the Texans, Cardinals and Browns, as future destinations. The plot somewhat thickened on Friday as the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that the Browns are “looking at” the possibility of signing Ward.
Before Giants fans assume that Ward will be in Cleveland in the next week, it must be noted that the Browns still have running back Jamal Lewis under contract for another two seasons. There have been no rumblings (that I’ve seen or heard) that indicate Lewis will either be out of Cleveland or no longer be the feature running back for the Browns. In fact, new Cleveland head coach Eric Mangini stated that he was a fan of Jamal Lewis in a press conference just a few weeks back.
For what it’s worth, Derrick Ward finished the 2008 regular season with 1,025 yards and two touchdowns on 182 carries. Ward did this as the number two back for Big Blue behind fellow thousand yard running back Brandon Jacobs. As the top back for the Cleveland Browns, Jamal Lewis ran for 1,002 and four scores on 279 carries. Lewis will be 30 years old at the start of the 2009 regular season. Ward will be 29.
In a piece I wrote back in late January, I suggested that Derrick Ward needed the Giants because he didn’t have the ability to carry an offense on his back the way that a Brandon Jacobs or Jamal Lewis can. Simply put, Ward played his best football when he was giving Brandon Jacobs a breather, not when Jacobs was sidelined with an injury.
A potential move to Cleveland should definitely interest Ward. While he may not receive the carries he was hoping for, he should get slightly more carries than he would in New York. At the same time, Ward would not be running behind the same offensive line he had in front of him in 2008.
Regardless, it seems as if the Giants are in no hurry to bring back “Earth, Wind and Fire” for another season. During the Jim Rome interview, Ward told Rome that the Giants had not yet approached Ward regarding a new contract. The Giants appear more than happy to wait things out and see just what type of deal Ward is offered in the next couple of weeks.