Running back is a position that doesn’t have a long lifespan in the NFL. Most running backs usually last five-six years and then flame out in their early 30’s. In recent years, this has been seen with LaDainian Tomlinson, Clinton Portis and Shaun Alexander among others.
New York Giants running back Brandon Jacobs turns 30 in September. Given his age, the fact that he averaged under four yards a carry two of the last three seasons, and a prohibitive 4.9 million salary in 2012, it should come as no surprise that the team decided to release him today after seven seasons.
Jacobs, a fourth round pick in 2005 of out of Southern Illinois, was mostly relegated to backup duty in his first two seasons behind Tiki Barber. After Barber retired, Jacobs stepped into the starting role, and thrived, averaging over five yards a carry in three of the next five seasons.
Jacobs set the tone for a dominant Giants running game in 2007 and 2008, combining with Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw to create “Earth, Wind, and Fire.”
In recent seasons, Jacobs’ performance has declined and so has his role, as the Giants offense has shifted to being pass-oriented.
One of the distinguishing things about Jacobs was his personality. At times, he exemplified the “smash mouth” attitude of the team. Other times, he was seen as abrasive. In 2010, he was fined after throwing his helmet in the stands during the Giants 38-14 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. After the Giants 29-14 win over the New York Jets in Week 16 this season, Jacobs got into a verbal altercation with Jets head coach Rex Ryan.
The Giants will likely draft a running back in this year’s draft to compliment Bradshaw, Da’Rel Scott and D.J. Ware.
As for Jacobs, he should not expect to find a starting role on the free agent market, but could latch on as a #2 back, perhaps with the Jets to compliment Shonn Greene.
Jacobs finishes his Giants career with 1,078 carries for 4,849 yards and 56 touchdowns, averaging 4.5 yards per carry. He also caught 80 passes for 731 yards and four touchdowns.