Free agent running back Orleans Darkwa has been given the medical greenlight from doctors, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Darkwa will now be able to work out for teams, which will make him an interesting summer pickup for teams in need of backfield reinforcements.
Darkwa had several offers in free agency, but did not find any deals to his liking. Those clubs were encouraged by his decision to have a plate removed from his leg in May and he should draw plenty of interest after healing up from the procedure.The signing of unrestricted free agents no longer counts against the 2019 compensatory draft pick formula at this stage of the offseason, so a team won’t have much to lose by signing Darkwa to a relatively inexpensive one-year deal.
Darkwa visited the Patriots in April, but they’re already overloaded at running back with first-round pick Sony Michel, James White, Jeremy Hill, Rex Burkhead, Mike Gillislee, and Brandon Bolden under contract (not to mention fullback James Develin). The Giants reportedly had some level of interest in re-signing him, but they’ve since drafted Penn State standout Saquon Barkley with the No. 2 overall pick and signed veteran Jonathan Stewart . The crosstown Jets were also eyeing Darkwa at one point, but they signed Isaiah Crowell and Thomas Rawls.
Darkwa had the best year of his NFL career in 2017 with career-highs in starts (11), rushes (171), yards (751), and touchdowns (five). The 26-year-old managed 4.4 yards per carry, and also added 19 receptions for 116 yards in the passing game. Overall, Darkwa was roughly a league-average running back, as he finished 22nd among 45 qualifiers in DVOA, Football Outsiders’ efficiency metric.
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