The Giants never really made a serious play for Blount. There was mutual interest before the draft and a token minimum-salary offer in recent weeks, according to multiple sources. Blount ultimately signed a deal that could net him close to $3 million for the 2017 season with the Eagles.
It’s fair to surmise, based on how this all unfolded, that the Giants only wanted Blount if he could be had on the uber-cheap. They selected running back Wayne Gallman in the fourth round of the draft, and they also didn’t go hard pre-draft after Adrian Peterson, Eddie Lacy, Latavius Murray or, really, any of the other perceived top backs on the free-agent market.
If anything, general manager Jerry Reese was going to add a power back this offseason only for pennies on the dollar, an interesting approach. Right or wrong, their reason is Perkins, the second-year back out of UCLA.
It wasn’t an accident that coach Ben McAdoo recently declared Perkins the Giants’ starter. He has refused to do the same for second-year middle linebacker B.J. Goodson, second-year safeties Darian Thompson and Andrew Adams, or recent draft picks Evan Engram and Dalvin Tomlinson. But with the running back position and Perkins, it was different.
It was a surprising approach for McAdoo. He usually reserves the right to make public depth-chart declarations until after they play themselves out on the field.
This running back situation is different. It’s Perkins’ job to lose, with Orleans Darkwa and Gallman as insurance. Shane Vereen also is healthy after twice tearing his triceps last season, and returns as the passing-down back for at least one more season. Shaun Draughn is insurance at that spot.
"Paul Perkins is going to be our starter out there on first and second down, and we've added some competition in the room in a variety of ways," McAdoo said during an interview on WFAN after the draft. "Shaun Draughn, Shane Vereen is coming back, we drafted Wayne Gallman, so it's going to be interesting to see how the running back room shakes out."
The Giants are going to use multiple running backs. This seems like a philosophical staple for McAdoo. He shuffled in Andre Williams even when he was ineffective finding holes. Williams averaged 2.9 yards per carry in 2015 and his workload still managed to increase late in the season.
McAdoo also continued to trot Rashad Jennings out there last year even when he couldn’t make defenders miss. Jennings remained the Giants’ starting running back up until the final week of the regular season.
Perkins, 22, eventually took that role for Week 17 and the playoffs. He's undoubtedly a promising player. He flashed an ability to make defenders miss as a rookie, and averaged 4.1 yards per carry for a team that as a whole averaged 3.5 yards. Perkins earned the coaching staff’s trust as a blocker as the season progressed and has a fine all-around skill set that could dictate using him on any down or in any situation.
But Perkins' longest run went for 22 yards. His 1.55 yards after contact was 28th of 42 qualifying running backs. (Blount was 21st at 1.73.)
What the Giants saw during Perkins' rookie year was enough to make him their No. 1 back. It’s a risky proposition given his minimal track record, but one that could pay off substantially with improvement in his second season.
A player like Blount is a little more proven. All he did last season was lead the league with 18 rushing touchdowns. He's averaged 4.4 yards per carry during his seven seasons.
The Giants went with Perkins as their primary back, with Vereen as the top contingency plan, and Darkwa, Gallman and Draughn in reserve. It may or may not work. Right now, all we know, based off their actions, is that the Giants are all-in on Perkins.