Devonta Freeman said he was in a Philadelphia hotel room on Sunday after he had visited with the Eagles. He was watching their game on television when he saw breaking news flash across his screen. Giants running back Saquon Barkley had suffered a knee injury, and it was clear it could be a serious one.
Released by the Falcons after six seasons in Atlanta, the running back bided his time, weighing offers from multiple teams, in search of the right opportunity. With Barkley officially out for the remainder of the season, Freeman found what he was looking for and within 72 hours, he was north on I-95 and clad in blue and white.
“I just think a lot of situations didn't fit me and fit what I want to do,” Freeman said of his search for the right team. “I know I still have a lot left in the tank. I just want to go out and play football and have fun. This was the right opportunity at the right time. I'm just going to continue to compete and work and try to get better.”
Freeman made back-to-back Pro Bowls in 2015 and 2016, when he combined for over 3000 yards from scrimmage and 27 touchdowns. Inuries held him to just two games in 2018, but was still effective in 2019, rushing for 656 yards and picking up 410 more through the air.
But staring a big cap hit in the face, the Falcons released Freeman in March prior to the start of the season.
“I understand the game and I understand the business,” Freeman said. “As always, business decisions have to be made. I just do my part, come to work every day and leave my best out there on the practice field or the game field. Whatever I'm asked to do, I try to take advantage of the opportunity, whether it's pass catching, running or blocking. I just want to contribute as much as I can.“
There’s a chance Freeman could be asked to do a lot, in fact. Dion Lewis has always been at his best when he can be used as a change-of-pace back, while Wayne Gallman has been inconsistent at times and was inactive for the team's Week 2 game against Chicago. While he’s only 28 years old, there may be some wear on Freeman’s tires, so to speak, but he thinks his body is in good shape.
“It's all up to you and the way you take care of your body,” Freeman said. “You can do maintenance on your body. You can be as young as you want to be. I've seen guys who've been around this league for a very long time and studied how they took care of their body. That's the same with me. I'm just copying those guys and adjusting to my game plan.”
What’s in the Giants’ game plan for Freeman remains to be seen, but he looks to be coming into that locker room with a positive attitude, despite his new team’s 0-2 record.
“There's a lot of ball left,” Freeman said. “There's a lot of games to be played. I'm fortunate and blessed to be on this team. It's a young team and I'm happy about the opportunity. I'm just here to help contribute as much as I can and be a part of this team.”