Giants could target former Ravens Pro Bowl defensive tackle in free agency

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With the 2021 NFL season finally coming to an end after the Los Angeles Rams took down the Cincinnati Bengals in the Super Bowl, the New York Giants look ahead to the NFL draft in April.

With nine draft selections at their disposal, new management will have plenty to keep them busy as the NFL takes a break for a month until free agency opens up.

Unfortunately for Big Blue, they are cash strapped at the moment, but general manager Joe Schoen has already indicated they plan on clearing about $40 million in funds to allocate.

Players that could be released include James Bradberry, saving $12.1 million, Blake Martinez, $8.5 million, Sterling Shepard, $4.5 million, and Kyle Rudolph, $5 million. Even punter Riley Dixon is on the cut block, with a projected savings of $2.8 million.

Of course, by cutting all of these players, the Giants will need to replace them in free agency or via the draft. After hiring defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, the team may look to bring in some familiar faces who could contribute toward the rebuild.

One former Ravens defensive lineman that stands out is Calais Campbell, who is coming off a two-year, $25 million deal. Campbell will be 36 years old this upcoming season, and after making the transition to defensive tackle with Baltimore last year, his price tag will likely decrease exponentially. Calais stated over the weekend he wouldn’t be retiring anytime soon.

“Oh yeah, I’m not retiring,” Campbell told Sky Sports, via the Ravens’ team web site, after the Los Angeles Rams’ 23-20 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. “I watched this game. The feeling I have right now after seeing them celebrate a Super Bowl championship, I have a desire to go out there and play football and to compete. So I’m definitely not retiring; I’m coming back.”

Over 15 games, Campbell recorded 49 tackles, five tackles for a loss, 12 QB hits, and 1.5 sacks. His veteran experience and leadership would be a welcomed addition in New York, but the Giants might be forced to dip into the 2023 cap to land him. This shouldn’t scare you away, the cap is fluid and easily manipulated.

The defensive personnel is set to change significantly, with Martindale relying heavily on a blitz-oriented scheme that plays man coverage. That is a primary reason why Bradberry could be cut this off-season.

Per PFF, Campbell recorded an 80.8 overall defense of grade, including 77.9 in run defense and 69.5 as a pass rusher. Making the transition to defensive tackle requires him to plug A-and-B gaps rather than rush off the edge. The likely reason for Campbell making the transition is due to a lack of athleticism and speed at his age. However, he still contains plenty of power and football IQ to utilize inside.

On Monday, Campbell made it clear that he wouldn’t be retiring next season, so the Giants could theoretically bring him in on a two-year contract with the money pushed to the second season.

The team has a projected $92 million in cap space in 2023, and with a rebuild on their doorstep, having experienced veterans who provide leadership is essential.

Potential structured deal: 2-years, $14 million with incentives. Include an out after the first year.