New York Giants' Potential Free-Agent Target: Toby Gerhart, RB, Minnesota Vikings

Toby Gerhart - Otto Greule Jr

Toby Gerhart is looking for a place where he can have a bigger role in the offense. Could that be with the Giants?

We already know that when it comes to running back David 'Rabbit Head' Wilson the New York Giants "won't put all of our eggs in that basket." Those, of course, are the words of general manager Jerry Reese, spoken over the weekend at the NFL Combine.

Andre Brown is a free agent and, while he has shown flashes of talent, has had an injury-prone career. Michael Cox appears to be a bit player, at best.

So, who is going to be the "bell cow," the "workhorse," the "lead dog" in the Giants' backfield in 2014?

How about Minnesota Vikings' free agent Toby Gerhart?

Gerhart, 27 next month, has spent four seasons caddying for the amazing Adrian Peterson, meaning mostly he has gathered dust on the Vikings sideline. In those four years since the Vikings chose him in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft Gerhart has carried 276 times for 1,305 yards (4.7 yards per carry). That, roughly, is about a season's worth of touches for a lead back.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune says the 6-foot, 234-pound Gerhart "has the talent to be a lead running back." SB Nation's Daily Norseman believes Gerhart is "starting material." Problem is, nobody really knows if that is true.

Gerhart had a career-high 109 carries and 531 yards in 2011, but had just 86 carries the past two seasons combined, and just 36 in 2013.

Still, ESPN believes "there might be a team that takes a look at Gerhart and determines he can have a bigger role in an offense than he's had with the Vikings."

Scout.com includes the Giants on a list of 12 teams who might give Gerhart the opportunity to show he can be a No. 1 back.

Gerhart has proven to be a good pass-catcher during his time in Minnesota, with 77 receptions during his four seasons of limited duty. Judging from his Pro Football Focus scores he would be considered an adequate pass protector, something we know will be critical for a Giants' running back at least as long as Tom Coughlin is head coach.

With the limited opportunities he has had in Minnesota Gerhart might be a less-expensive option than Ben Tate, Knowshon Moreno, Darren McFadden and some of the other more proven backs who will hit the free-agent market.

It is really a question of whether the Giants consider Gerhart an upgrade over Brown. Keep in mind that the new Giants' running backs coach, Craig Johnson, is very familiar with Gerhart. Johnson spent the last three years as quarterbacks coach in Minnesota, so he has been around Gerhart, knows what the people in Minnesota thought of him, and can probably offer as valid an opinion as anyone as to whether or not Gerhart can handle being a lead back.

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