Restricted free agent running back Orleans Darkwa is not being tendered by the New York Giants, a source told ESPN. While a return remains possible, Darkwa will test the open market after recently being cleared medically following a leg injury.
An original-round tender would have given Darkwa a one-year deal worth $1.797 million for this upcoming season, but the Giants passed on that option.
Darkwa, who will be at full strength when teams start offseason programs this spring, was originally an undrafted free agent out of Tulane who was claimed off the Miami Dolphins practice squad during the 2014 season.
Defensive end Kerry Wynn is the Giants’ only other restricted free agent. Wynn was also undrafted in 2014 and would cost $1.797 million if tendered.
Darkwa, 25, missed the second half of this past season with a fracture in his leg that never fully healed from the previous offseason. He underwent surgery in December and had a plate inserted into his tibia.
It ended a disappointing year for Darkwa, whose injury was first diagnosed in the spring. It was never right, and the third-year running back first surfaced on the injury report in November. The Giants called it a lower leg injury and reduced his workload before placing him on injured reserve.
Darkwa flashed potential as a runner during his time with the Giants, especially during the 2015 season when he averaged 4.3 yards per carry. He had 111 yards on 30 carries (3.7 ypc) in 10 games and two starts this past season.
The veteran running back appeared in 33 games with the Giants and started at against the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers in Weeks 4 and 5 with starter Rashad Jennings injured and Shane Vereen also out. Darkwa had 12 carries for 48 yards against the Vikings. He had 11 yards on seven carries against the Packers the following week and never touched the ball again in 2016. He was a special teams contributor the rest of the way, before the injury ended his season.
Darkwa has appeared in 37 career games in three seasons for the Dolphins and Giants. He has 75 carries for 287 yards (3.8 ypc) and four touchdowns.
The Giants now have just two running backs (Paul Perkins and Vereen) under contract with any significant NFL experience.