Jonathan Stewart to visit as Giants explore inexpensive RB options

The New York Giants are looking at running backs, on the cheap. They have scheduled a visit with former Carolina Panthers starter Jonathan Stewart on Tuesday, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.

Stewart will turn 31 next week, but he has a connection to new Giants general manager Dave Gettleman and his former offensive coordinator Mike Shula from their time together in Carolina. Stewart could be an option to supplement Wayne Gallman and Paul Perkins, with Orleans Darkwa set to test the open market on Wednesday.

It’s an interesting name and potential stopgap, especially if the Giants land Saquon Barkley with the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft. Stewart isn’t expected to command a ton of money on the free-agent market, and could be a help in shaping the culture that Gettleman is trying to create.

On Monday with the Giants focused on former Carolina guard Andrew Norwell, they didn't appear to be looking to spend much on another running back. Minnesota’s Jerick McKinnon had a strong market and appeared unlikely. Even Darkwa was looking for more than what the Giants are willing to spend.

Stewart fits their profile. The question is whether he has anything left after almost 1,700 career carries. He averaged 3.4 yards per carry and that was behind a guard tandem where one was named All-Pro and the other was picked for the Pro Bowl. Darkwa averaged 4.4 yards per carry behind an oft-criticized Giants offensive line.

The Giants will take a look Tuesday and see if it’s a fit. Stewart could be a piece of their running back-by-committee, at least until the draft rolls around.

  • The Giants are not expected to be in the market for any of the top cornerbacks. More likely they will dip into the second level. It’s an especially deep cornerback group this year, which includes Ross Cockrell, who filled in admirably for the Giants last season and led the team with 11 passes defended.

  • The Jon Halapio signing could turn out to be an underrated move. The Giants were impressed with the way he played late last year. It’s why even though they’re overhauling the offensive line, Halapio was pegged as one of the few to return. His performance in Week 17 against the Washington Redskins definitely caught Gettleman’s eyes. Halapio could surprise some people this summer.

  • Don’t be surprised to see the Giants dip into the kicker market at some point in free agency. They’re looking for a veteran to stabilize the position after Aldrick Rosas struggled badly last season. Among the names to watch is Chandler Catanzaro. He already has experience kicking in MetLife Stadium for the New York Jets and made 83 percent of his field goal attempts, including 2-for-2 from 50-plus yards, and all of his extra points last season. He also had a 63 percent touchback rate. Rosas' was 42 percent. The 27-year-old Catanzaro is an option that could make sense for the Giants.

  • Cornerback Valentino Blake is attempting a comeback after leaving the Giants last summer for personal reasons. The veteran told me last week he was training to play and was hoping to land on a roster this year. Blake, who has been with the Titans, Jaguars and Steelers, will be a free agent. He joins an extremely crowded group of cornerbacks on the free-agent market.