New York Giants: Who will replace James Bradberry at CB2?

aaron robinson, new york giants

The New York Giants made a major move today to free up salary-cap space. Veteran cornerback James Bradberry was released after two impressive seasons with the team. Bradberry was one of the Giants’ best players but they could not afford to keep him any longer. The move to release Bradberry freed up $10.1M in salary cap space for the Giants. New York now has money to invest in its rookies, but it also has a major hole to fill on its defense. Who will replace James Bradberry in the Giants’ starting lineup?

Could the Giants find Bradberry’s replacement in free agency?

There are a few free agents that the Giants could potentially target to replace James Bradberry. Releasing Bradberry freed up some cap space for the Giants to work with, but most of that money will be allocated toward their 2022 rookie draft class. With what little money shall remain, New York could look to sign a free agent on a veteran minimum contract.

Veteran cornerbacks like Joe Haden, Kyle Fuller, and Xavier Rhodes could be options for the Giants. All three of these cornerbacks play on the outside and have been in the league for some time. Admittedly, these guys are all past their prime playing years, but it could be beneficial for the Giants to sign one of these veterans with the hopes of receiving average cornerback play and stability along the boundaries.

Who could step up on the Giants’ roster?

Adoree’ Jackson is the new CB1 in town for the Giants. Jackson played as CB2 opposite of Bradberry in 2021 but will elevate to the primary role now. But who will now play opposite of Adoree’ Jackson? There are some young cornerbacks on the Giants’ roster who could compete for the position.

Aaron Robinson is a name to keep an eye on. The 2021 third-round pick flashed potential as a rookie. He played primarily as a slot cornerback in college and as a rookie, but Robinson’s aggression and size could make him a match on the outside. Aaron Robinson is 6-foot-1, 193 pounds, giving him adequate size as a boundary corner. He was targeted in coverage 30 times as a rookie, allowing 19 completions for 207 yards and 1 touchdown. ARob also managed to break up 3 passes while racking up 26 combined tackles after appearing in 9 games with 2 starts.

Another young cornerback that could compete outside is rookie cornerback Cordale Flott. The Giants drafted the LSU product in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Cordale is another nickel cornerback that could convert to the outside. He is a bit light, though, to play on the boundary in the NFL. But where Flott lacks in size, he makes up for it with his aggression and ball skills. Cordale had 13 PBUs and an interception in college; 5 PBUs in 2021. In college, Flott aligned 394 times outside, 797 times in the slot, and 93 times in the box (PFF). The Giants will need to get Cordale Flott more comfortable outside if they view him as a replacement for James Bradberry.

Good news and bad news as Yankees barely edge out win over Texas

nestor cortes, yankees

The New York Yankees faced off against the Texas Rangers in a make-up game from May 7 on Monday afternoon at 1:05 PM. After Gerrit Cole and Jordan Montgomery got the starts in Sunday’s doubleheader, Nestor Cortes toed the slab in the series finale before the Bombers host the Toronto Blue Jays in a two-game series starting Tuesday.

Cortes enjoyed a phenomenal performance, helping blank the Blue Jays as the Yankees squeaked by 1–0.

Good news and bad news for the New York Yankees:

Cortes took the game into the 8th inning without allowing a single hit against the Rangers. Over 103 pitches, Cortes struck out 11 batters and walked four, lowering his ERA to 1.41. The bullpen took over from there, easily finishing the game, aside from a tricky situation with the Rangers getting a runner into scoring position in the bottom of the 9th. Aroldis Chapman luckily managed to work his way out of trouble.

Overall, the pitching was excellent for the Bombers, having enjoyed three consecutive games of elite pitching but poor offensive production.

The Yankees posted five hits and four walks on the afternoon, striking out nine times. Despite multiple opportunities to drive in runners in scoring position, including a bases-loaded situation in the 5th inning, the Yanks were unable to take advantage and get back to their slugging ways. Clearly, missing two consecutive games hurt their offensive flow since they were completely dominating during their 11-game winning streak.

Thanks to the pitching, the Yankees host the most wins in baseball at 20–8, sitting atop the AL East by 2.5 games and tied with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in baseball.

Nonetheless, Luis Severino will get to start against Yusei Kikuchi on Tuesday at 7:05 PM. The Yankees will have to turn around their offensive luck against a dangerous Toronto team that just lost two consecutive games did the Cleaveland Guardians.

The New York Giants might’ve walked away with two offensive line steals out of UNC

joshua ezeudu, new york giants

When the New York Giants drafted Josh Ezeudu in the third round out of UNC, they saw a potential starting player at left guard. Ezeudu stands at 6’4″ and 308 pounds, displaying a great frame with top-end athleticism.

Ezeudu has experience at both tackle and guard, but given the Giants’ need next to Andrew Thomas, he will likely compete with Max Garcia and Shana Lemieux this off-season for the starting job.

However, UNC head coach Mack Brown tried desperately to retain Ezeudu for the 2022 season, even going as far as to project him as a potential first-round pick if he would’ve continued his development at the collegiate level for one more year. Josh exercised his opportunity to reach the NFL, and the Giants might’ve landed an absolute steal in the third round because of his decision.

Brown told Giants.com that both Ezeudu and Marcus McKethan are high-end prospects who both understand the game of football and have tremendous upside.

“These guys, they know what they’re doing, they’re tough, they understand the game, they’re very driven,” Brown told Giants.com. “I think in the case of both of these young guys, their football is ahead of them. I really think they’re on the cutting edge of what’s next. I think the Giants were really smart in drafting both of them.”

Specifically regarding Ezeudu, Brown believed he was one of the best linemen in the country, and if that is true, the Giants should be expecting big things out of him as a mid-round pick.

“Josh is really smart, and he can play anywhere. He’s very athletic,” Brown said. “We thought he was one of the best offensive linemen in the country. In fact, we wanted him to come back because we thought he could be a first or second rounder the next year. I think he’s just going to grow and grow and all of it is ahead of him. He had a sore knee at one point. He also fought through an ankle, so he’s tough. He played through all of those issues.”

McKethan stands at 6’6″ and 340 pounds, a massive human being with incredible strength. He has the premium size to play guard in the NFL but struggles with more athletic pass rushers given his mobility limitations. Displaying such enormous size gives him a good anchor against power rushers and bigger interior defenders. When Marcus gets his blocks squared off, he’s incredibly hard to move, but providing him with a bit more fundamental help regarding his horizontal agility, he can be a potential starter.

Nonetheless, there’s reason to be extremely excited about these two prospects coming out of North Carolina. Their size alone is intriguing, and given the lack of consistency the New York Giants have had at LG over the past few seasons, there’s no reason Ezeudu can’t steal the starting job as a rookie.

MLB insider says the Yankees look like “the team to beat” in the American League

isiah kiner-falefa, aaron judge

After splitting Sunday’s doubleheader against the Texas Rangers, the New York Yankees’ record stands at 19-8. Mainly because of an 11-game winning streak that was snapped this week, the Bombers hold the best record in the American League as we head to a new week.

The junior circuit has some of the same foes for the Yankees, namely the Tampa Bay Rays and the Houston Astros, plus some emerging powerhouses, in the Minnesota Twins, the Toronto Blue Jays, and the Los Angeles Angels. Yet the Yankees look a tier above, at least in the early going. The season is long, and they will need to keep up this level for a sustained period of time.

Jon Heyman, an MLB insider, said in his NY Post column that “it’s early but they (the Yankees) are starting to establish themselves as the team to beat in the American League.”

The Yankees have been a tier above everyone else in the American League

Heyman noted that “like many folks, I was concerned about a winter the Blue Jays did headline-grabbing things, and the Yankees did little, or so it seemed,” but the Blue Jays, even though they are just 3.5 games behind the Yanks, haven’t been in the same tier.

The Yankees have the best run differential of the American League, with +48. The second-best team, the Angels, are at +27, so there are 21 runs of difference between New York and the rest of the pack. This early in the season, that’s a significant gap.

Per Heyman: “The verdict is far from in, but a month and a day into the season, the Yankees look like the AL’s best team. There are two reasons for this. One, they look pretty good. And two, nobody else does.”

It’s still very early, but most of the teams that can really compete with the Yankees as currently constructed and as things currently stand, are in the National League.

After coming up short at UFC 274, what’s next for Justin Gaethje?

This past Saturday in the main event of UFC 274, Justin Gaethje (23-4) had his chance to become the undisputed lightweight champion. To do that, he had to face the man who entered the octagon with the title, Charles Oliveira (33-8).

Now, Oliveira missed weight by .5 pounds so he was stripped of his UFC lightweight title ahead of the main event. That said, Justin Gaethje still had his chance to become champion, he just needed to defeat Oliveira.

This fight was crazy from the opening seconds. Oliveira came across the octagon and was blasted by a leg kick from Gaethje. However, Oliveira landed a couple of shots that seemingly rocked Gaethje.

Then, Gaethje rocked the former UFC champion twice including dropping him clean. However, Oliveira remained calm and composed. Later on in the first round, Oliveira blasted Gaethje with a right that sent him down.

The challenger had his back taken and Oliveira locked in the choke. Gaethje was forced to tap and once again came up short in his quest to become undisputed UFC champion.

What’s next after UFC 274?

With the title loss at UFC 274, Gaethje dropped to 5-3 in his last eight fights inside the octagon. Now, it’s worth noting that the three losses came against Oliveira, Khabib, and Dustin Poirier so he’s only lost to the best of the best.

The question now becomes what will the UFC do with Gaethje next? Let’s be clear, The Highlight is still one of the very best lightweights in the world. Losing to Charles Oliveira doesn’t hurt his stock, it just proves once again that Oliveira is the best in the world.

There are plenty of entertaining fights for Gaethje inside the octagon. One fight that I would love to see is a rematch with Dustin Poirier. Poirier and Gaethje had. war back in 2018 and both are coming off losses to Oliveira. Seems like a good time to pair them back up.

I don’t think anyone would mind seeing a rematch with Michael Chandler, but I don’t think that’s in the cards for the UFC. Another option could be a fight with Conor McGregor. McGregor and Gaethje have had some back and forth for a while, and this could be a great fight to book for McGregor’s return.

What should Knicks do if they don’t land Jalen Brunson?

New York Knicks‘ free-agent target Jalen Brunson continues to make his case for a huge payday this summer.

Brunson scattered 18 points, four rebounds and four assists in the Dallas Mavericks’ 111-101 win Sunday to tie their series at two games apiece, and most importantly, he took away Chris Paul’s impact on the Phoenix Suns.

Paul only had five points in a foul-plagued 23 minutes of action. Brunson posted up Paul and bullied him in the paint.

The Mavericks’ stocky point guard drew Paul’s fifth foul early in the third quarter. Brunson took Paul out of the game with his sixth foul and still 8:58 remaining in the fourth quarter.

It’s no secret that the Knicks covet Brunson. But Brunson’s stellar play in the playoffs has made him so valuable to the Mavericks that they are reportedly not willing to help the Knicks in a sign-and-trade scenario.

The Knicks have no cap space, and while they have a bunch of veterans on expiring deals, they still have to unload them before competing for Brunson’s services in the open market.

So what should the Knicks do if they cannot land Brunson this summer?

Should they pursue the next best available free agent point guard in the market?

This summer’s free-agent class of point guards isn’t as deep as the previous years.

Should the Knicks settle with backup guards Tyus Jones and Ricky Rubio or journeyman Dennis Schroder? Pursue a Russell Westbrook trade or John Wall if the Houston Rockets buy him out? Or maybe steal away Cleveland Cavaliers’ restricted free agent Collin Sexton?

If Brunson goes elsewhere, and unless there’s a superstar to chase this summer, the Knicks might be better staying the course.

Immanuel Quickley showed in the final half of this past season that he’s ready for a bigger role. With Derrick Rose coming back, the Knicks should have two solid point guards.

Leon Rose must take a cue from the Philadelphia 76ers on how they approached Tyrese Maxey’s development into a rising star in a contender.

Rose lauded the development of their young core during his end-of-the-season pre-taped interview with MSG Network’s Mike Breen. He has the power to keep them on track. All he needs to do is convince, or perhaps much better, send the mission order to Thibodeau to start Quickley.

If that happens, the Knicks still have a quality second unit backcourt with feisty incoming sophomore Miles McBride replacing Quickley as Derrick Rose’s understudy.

With Quickley running the point next to Evan Fournier, RJ Barrett, Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson, the Knicks have outscored their opponents by 13.6 points this past season, according to Cleaning The Glass.

Quickley’s outside threat and his 6-foot-10 wingspan are his best gifts, but he’s made a conscious effort to attack the rim more in his sophomore year — a point guard attribute that Thibodeau covets.

Not only did he improve his accuracy (56 percent to 62 percent) from his rookie season, but he also did it with more volume (22-39 to 48-78), jumping from 37th percentile to 61st percentile in the league in shots at the rim, per CTG. That was a better mark than what Brunson did during his sophomore year in Dallas, where he shot 49 of 84 (58 percent) at the rim, good for only 55th percentile in the league, per CTG.

Quickley has shown flashes that he could be better than Brunson in his Year 4. He’s committed and driven. All he needs is the opportunity to realize his potential.

The Knicks don’t need to settle for anything less this summer. They might already have the best option available in their fold.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Yankees: Gleyber Torres is heating up!

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres

In 2020 and 2021, New York Yankees infielder Gleyber Torres wasn’t the same guy that hit 62 home runs between 2018 and 2019. He was passive, he didn’t show any game power, and he struggled mightily to get anything going at the plate; not to mention his defensive shortcomings at shortstop.

The Yankees’ new hitting coach Dillon Lawson worked with him in the offseason, and after a slow start, the results are starting to show this year. If you look at Gleyber’s line, you won’t see the performance of an All-Star…yet: .228/.267/.443 with four homers, a 107 wRC+ and a .310 wOBA.

But a look under the hood will tell you that the Yankees’ infielder is doing the right things. He is hitting the ball hard (at least at 95 mph) at a career-best rate, at 50 percent; and his average exit velocity is in the 89th percentile.

Judging by his quality of contact and his plate discipline, he has an expected wOBA of .390, making him one of the unluckiest players in baseball. His numbers will start increasing and improving in a hurry.

The Yankees wanted more aggressiveness from Torres

Lawson and the Yankees want Torres to be more aggressive, and that’s what he has been doing. And things are starting to click. His walk rate has decreased to 4.6 percent (compared to his career 9.0 percent mark), but now, he is not wasting any hittable pitches. His .215 isolated power is already pretty close to his 2018 and 2019 numbers, which is awfully encouraging.

Since April 21, Torres is slashing .295/.319/.568 with three homers, a .383 wOBA, and an excellent 159 wRC+. Ideally, he will get those walks a bit up, but if this is what works for Torres, the Yankees will gladly take a hitter with a high average and a healthy .273 isolated power.

All in all, Torres may not reach his 38-homer ceiling of 2019 (that was a “bouncy” ball, too), but his offseason work and approach adjustments may lead to 25 or 30 bombs if he plays every day. Again, the Yankees will gladly take that.

Coining the Yankees most underrated relief pitcher to start 2022

wandy peralta, yankees

The New York Yankees’ bullpen has been phenomenal to start the 2022 season, notably Michael King and Clay Holmes. However, the most underrated relief arm to start the year has been Wandy Peralta, a 30-year-old veteran who split his time between the San Francisco Giants and Yankees in 2021.

When the Bombers acquired Peralta from San Francisco, he hosted a 5.40 ERA over 8.1 innings. However, the Yankees managed to extract the best version of Peralta, who finished the 2021 campaign with a 2.95 ERA, 76% left on base rate, and 58.7% ground ball rate, his highest since he joined Major League baseball in 2016.

Peralta‘s exit velocity allowed last year was 85.9 for the Yankees but has dropped 84.1 this year, showcasing even better efficiency. To start the campaign, Peralta hosts a 1.80 ERA, 83.3% left on base rate, and 53.3% ground ball rate. His strikeouts per nine are down significantly to 4.50, but he’s generating a lot of outs, giving up eight hits over 10 innings of action.

Looking at Peralta’s pitch usage, he relies heavily on his fastball, which he’s throwing 50.4% this year, up tremendously from 37.4%. His slider usage is down quite significantly to 2.8% this season. The Giants loved to utilize his slider at 38.8%, but clearly, the Yankees see more value in allocating attention toward his fastball. He’s averaging out at 94.7 MPH with his FB.

Peralta also has a lethal change-up, which he’s throwing at 46.8% this year. However, he has something a bit unique about his fastball, it provides sinking action. In fact, he throws a sinker at 45.1% and a four-seam fastball just 4.9% of the time, which displays a recent trend for the Yankees.

After acquiring Clay Holmes, it seems as if management has seen more value in sinker-ball pitchers than simple four-seam fastballs.

Nonetheless, Wandy isn’t getting that much attention because of the performances from Michael King and more prominent names, but he’s executing at a very efficient rate.

Kayvon Thibodeaux earns glowing review from Giants pass-rush legend

kayvon thibodeaux, new york giants

When the New York Giants drafted Kayvon Thibodeaux 5th overall, they knew they would be getting a charismatic and potentially elite pass-rusher on defense.

Thibodeaux is coming off a campaign where he posted 7.0 sacks, 12 tackles for loss, and 49 total tackles. While his numbers don’t necessarily jump off the page, opposing offenses allocated plenty of attention to him, trying to limit his impact.

Thibodeaux brings as quick a first step as you can have off the line of scrimmage to the NFL, reminiscent of one Giants great, who compared himself to Thibodeaux as a young player.

“He wouldn’t be anything like JPP, he doesn’t remind me of Kiwi, doesn’t remind me of Tuck, doesn’t remind me of Strahan, actually,’’ Umenyiora told The Post. “Yeah, you’re right, he’s more like myself.’’

Since his freshman season with Oregon, Thibodeaux has been in the spotlight when he posted 10 sacks. As a tangibly elite player who features plus bend, explosiveness, and speed, he has all of the traits necessary to become a phenomenal player at the next level.

“I like him as a player for sure,’’ Umenyiora said. “Very dynamic football player. He’s strong against the run, which for a college pass rusher of his caliber, you don’t really see that. Strong, quick first step, good bend around the edge, good pass-rush moves, good speed, good motor.

On Day 1, the Giants can depend on Thibs to be a strong presence in the run game, which is essential in Wink Martindale’s aggressive man-coverage scheme.

The Giants didn’t draft Thibodeaux to be a pure run defender, though, they spent the 5th overall pick on him to get after the quarterback and force premature decisions.

“The way he plays, the way he rushes the passer I think you would say he has a very similar game and a very similar skill set to what I did, for sure. I like him as a player, I do.’’

Umenyiora is known for his quick first step and speed to power transition, very similar to Thibodeaux, who ranked above average in the 40-yard dash with a 4.58 and benched 27 reps, landing in the 85th percentile of edge rushers.

With that type of power and speed, Thibodeaux cannot only bench-press tackles off of him but use his incredible bend around the edge. With the right development, there’s no question that Kayvon can become a premium player, but it is also fair to temper our expectations during his rookie season.

After losing her title at UFC 274, what’s next for Rose Namajunas?

This past Saturday in the co-main event of UFC 274, the strawweight title was on the line. Rose Namajunas (11-5) was looking to defend her title and avenge a loss earlier in her career against the challenger Carla Esparza (19-6).

Despite losing the first fight between the two, Namajunas was a big betting favorite. I mean how couldn’t she be when we’ve seen Esparza look okay in past fights while Namajunas has gone 4-0 against the likes of Zhang Weili and Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

I have to be honest, I gave Carla Esparza no chance to win at UFC 274. Yes, Esparza has good wrestling, but Namajunas has such good scrambles and skills on the ground that I thought it would be neutralized. On top of that, Namajunas was miles better in the standup.

However, I don’t think anyone expected the fight that we got at UFC 274. Safe to say, it was the worst title fight in the history of the promotion. Namajunas spent virtually the entire fight on the outside throwing one shot here and one shot there.

Esparza kept holding the center and occasionally trying to throw stuff. She shot for takedowns and was definitely more active. However, she was landing either. In the end, two of the three judges gave the fight to Esparza due to that and she became the new strawweight champion.

What’s next after UFC 274?

I am a fan of Pat Barry’s and I think the work that him and Trevor Wittman have done with Rose Namajunas has been great. However, let’s be completely honest regarding the corner advice on Saturday night.

It was abysmal and that’s putting it lightly. The corner work from Barry might have been one of the main reasons that Rose Namajunas lost her title at UFC 274. In between rounds, you could hear Wittman start to ask for a little more aggressiveness from Namajunas.

However, Barry kept telling her that she was fighting perfectly. Namajunas never stepped on the gas and as a result, she lost the fight and her UFC title. Not only did she lose, but even Dana White said that the promotion won’t be interested in a rematch after watching that.

So now, the former UFC champion goes back to the drawing board. Next month, Zhang Weili and Joanna Jedrzejczyk will fight for the second time. It appears that the winner will face off against Carla Esparza.

My guess is that will lead the UFC to booking a matchup between Namajunas and top contender Marina Rodriguez.