Let's get this out of the way right now. There is a lot of chatter of Twitter -- where everyone is always in 'jump to conclusions' mode -- that the New York Giants signing of running back Shane Vereen means that Rashad Jennings had best start packing his bags and looking for a new home.
The Giants almost certainly did not sign Vereen, 26, as a replacement for Jennings. Or to take over as the team's primary back from Jennings or second-year man Andre Williams. Even if he will be the team's highest-paid back. They signed him because Vereen has a skill set that neithter Jennings nor Williams has. One that Ben McAdoo and the Giants' offense could really benefit from.
Remember a guy named David Wilson? Remember what the Giants were hoping to do with Wilson last season before their 2012 first-round pick was forced to retire by neck issues?
They were hoping to use Wilson as a change-of-pace back, as a guy they could throw the ball to in space, a guy who could create big plays in the open field and be a match-up nightmare for opposing linebackers. Without Wilson, Ben McAdoo and the Giants never had that element in their offensive arsenal.
With Vereen, they do.
Vereen caught 99 passes over the passes two regular seasons, and had 11 receptions in New England's Super Bowl victory over the Seattle Seahawks. He also averages 4.2 yards on 217 career carries.
ESPN's Dan Graziano wrote that "Vereen is known as a sharp route-runner and sure-handed receiver, but also as a strong pass-protector, so he'll slide in nicely as a third-down back with Jennings and/or Williams handling the early-down work."
What Vereen has never been is a full-time, every-down back. He played 606 snaps a year ago, and had career highes with 96 carries, 391 yards rushing and 52 receptions.
Vereen isn't in New York to replace Jennings, or to push Williams down the depth chart. He is a Giant to complement the things that they do, to improve the efficiency the Giants' passing attack and give Eli Manning one more weapon.
GM Jerry Reese always says "you need play-makers in this league." That's what Vereen is. And that is why the Giants wanted him.