Giants: 3 players who have earned larger roles next season

New York Giants safety Dane Belton (24) celebrates with teammates after an interception during the second half against the Los Angeles Rams at MetLife Stadium
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants’ season is a lost cause with one game left to play having already been eliminated from playoff contention. But while the team may not have any postseason motivations to play, many players are motivated by the opportunity to earn themselves larger roles with the team next season. Three players have stood out as potential building blocks entering 2024.

Dane Belton is a playmaker

In Week 17, second-year defensive back Dane Belton had his breakout performance. He totaled two combined tackles and snagged two interceptions while also recovering one fumble.

Belton has had a knack for getting his hands on the ball. Despite receiving very limited playing time through the first two seasons of his career, Belton has recorded four interceptions and three fumble recoveries.

In 2024, Belton should play a larger role in Big Blue’s defense. He has been on the field for only 22% of the team’s snaps this season, but that playing time should increase in his third career season.

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The Giants may have finally found their return specialist

The Giants have struggled to find a solid return specialist over the past few seasons, but they may have finally found one in Gunner Olszewski. After signing with Big Blue midseason, Olszewski has had an incredible impact on the Giants’ special teams and flexed his potential in Week 17.

Olszewski returned four punts on Sunday, highlighted by an incredible 94-yard return touchdown that helped the Giants get in position for a late-game comeback. Though he will be a free agent at the end of the season, Olszewski is a player that New York should prioritize re-signing.

The Giants have good linebacker depth for the first time in a long time

The Giants’ linebacker corps is headlined by Bobby Okereke, who is playing arguably at an All-Pro level this season. But behind him are a couple of other solid linebackers in Micah McFadden and Isaiah Simmons. McFadden has solidified his status as the team’s No. 2 linebacker in the lineup, but Simmons has quietly earned his spot in the defensive lineup, too.

Simmons is a rotational linebacker in the Giants’ defense, primarily playing in coverage or as a rusher on passing downs. But this role has worked wonders for Simmons as he’s earned a career-high 70.2 overall Pro Football Focus grade this season, totaling 47 combined tackles, two tackles for loss, one interception (a 54-yard pick six), one fumble recovery, and one forced fumble.

The limited role Simmons has played this season has contributed to his success. However, in 2024, the Giants should make Simmons a focal point in their defensive lineup, allowing him to expand his repertoire. He is an impending free agent though, so Big Blue will need to re-sign Simmons in the offseason.