For the first time in his career, Jonathan Stewart won't wear Carolina blue. That's because he signed with the Giants this offseason, reuniting with playcaller Mike Shula in New York. However, Stewart is certain to be a backup behind rookie sensation Saquon Barkley, minimizing his playing time -- if he even makes the team. Your best bet is to ignore the 31-year-old now that he's transitioning into a part-time role.
Stewart is part of a New York backfield that now includes No. 2 overall draft pick Saquon Barkley, Dan Salomone of the Giants' official website reports. Stewart knew this was possible -- perhaps even likely -- when he signed with New York in mid-March on a two-year, $6.9 million contract that includes $2.95 million guaranteed, per OverTheCap. The Giants may envision Stewart serving as a mentor to Barkley, but it still seems like an unnecessarily large contract for a 31-year-old running back coming off a season in which he averaged 3.3 yards on 198 carries. What's more, 2017 fourth-round pick Wayne Gallman looked the part of a solid contributor during his rookie season, averaging 4.3 yards on 111 totes. Barkley instantly becomes the best pass catcher and pure runner in this backfield by a wide margin, but it isn't out of the question that Stewart and/or Gallman also find roles. Paul Perkins likely was headed for the roster bubble even before he suffered a torn pectoral while working out in the offseason.
The Giants signed Stewart on Tuesday, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports. After he was released by the Panthers on Feb. 28, Stewart initially drew interest from the Seahawks and Lions, but the Giants will end up with his services in 2018. The soon-to-be 31-year-old is the Panthers' all-time leading rusher with 7,318 yards, which he churned out at a clip of 4.3 YPC. At the very least, the Giants will utilize Stewart on first and second downs this season, but Wayne Gallman and potentially a 2018 draft pick will eat into his overall volume.
Stewart and DeMarco Murray are scheduled for visits with the Lions on Monday, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports. With Ameer Abdullah entering the final year of his rookie contract on the heels of a season in which he was limited to 3.3 yards per carry, Detroit is one of the obvious destinations for free-agent running backs. Stewart turns 31 next week and managed only 3.4 yards per carry for the Panthers last season, but he did score five times in his final five games, including a 103-yard, three-score effort against the stingy Minnesota defense in Week 14. He'd be part of a committee in Detroit, where Theo Riddick is locked in on passing downs and Abdullah still figures to compete for carries.
Stewart, who was released by the Panthers last week, is slated to visit the Seahawks, the Seattle Times reports. Stewart, who turns 31 on March 21, recorded a career-low 3.4 yards per carry average in 2017, while logging 198 rushing attempts for 680 yards and six TDs in 15 games. Meanwhile, he was largely an afterthought in the Carolina passing attack, catching eight passes for the second season in a row. With 2017 first-rounder Christian McCaffrey now heading the Panthers backfield, Stewart will look to find a role elsewhere. Given that he's a native of Washington state and the Seahawks seem destined to part ways with Eddie Lacy, Stewart could be a decent complementary fit in a Seattle ground attack that cycled through ball carriers last season.
The Panthers released Stewart on Wednesday, Bryan Strickland of the team's official site reports. A first-round selection of Carolina in 2008, Stewart's 10-year tenure in the organization will come to an end following a season in which he averaged a career-worst 3.4 yards per carry while playing second fiddle to 2017 first-round selection Christian McCaffrey for much of the second half of the campaign. Stewart, who departs as the franchise's all-time rushing leader, had one year remaining on his contract after reaching an extension with the club last spring. Set to turn 31 years old in March and with his productivity on the decline, Stewart may be hard-pressed to find work elsewhere as anything more than a low-usage depth back.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|4||09/30||New Orleans Saints||12||17.22|
|10||11/13||@San Francisco 49ers||19||17.75|
|11||11/18||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||29||19.13|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||219||831||7||11||70||1||134|