Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Derrick Ward signs with Bucs

Derrick Ward signed a 4-year $17 million deal with the Tampa Bay Bucs on Tuesday (watch Ward's press conference), providing a new face in the backfield of a team in the midst of an identity transformation. Ward cashed in on a very successful year in 2008, in which he rushed for over 1,000 yards as "Wind" in the backfield trio of "Earth, Wind and Fire." With "Earth," Brandon Jacobs, also a free agent heading into the offseason, it was widely suspected that the Giants would be unable or unwilling to meet Ward's price tag.

As productive as he was last year, I don't know that Ward can be effective if he's the go-to guy in a system. A major reason for the Giants' success, and Ward's, in the running game last year - after the outstanding play of the offensive line - was the fact that Jacobs and Ward could split carries (with Bradshaw working in on occasion). When everything was clicking in the run game, Jacobs would set the tone and wear down the opposing defense, enabling Ward to maximize his yardage.

Ward definitely brought a lot to the table, but I am excited to see what Ahmad Bradshaw and Danny Ware can do. The Giants' staff seems pretty high on both of these young players. Bradshaw was a major contributor in the Giants' Super Bowl run two years ago and showed flashes of his homerun ability in his limited action last year. Ware impressed me in the preseason (pretty much the only time he carried the ball last year). In one game, I recall, he picked up 100 yards on only 8 carries or something. It was pretty impressive.

I like Derrick Ward a lot. He's definitely a talented player and I hope he does well in his new home. At the same time, I think the Giants could be on the verge of an exciting discovery or two with Bradshaw and Ware. Addition by subtraction? We shall see...

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