Giants could target free-agent pass-rusher with connection to new defensive coordinator

Tennessee Titans defensive end Denico Autry (96) (New York Giants free agent target)
Denny Simmons / The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK

The New York Giants will aim to add pass-rushing depth this offseason after their defense ranked 29th in the NFL with only 34 total sacks in the 2023 season. Newly hired defensive coordinator Shane Bowen will look to improve the team’s pass rush and could help the team land a familiar face in free agency to aid his unit in their efforts.

Tennessee Titans pass-rusher Denico Autry will be a free agent this offseason. He could be a top target for the Giants as they look to add players with connections to Bowen to their roster.

Giants could target Denico Autry in free agency

Autry played under Bowen in all three seasons that the coach spent as the Titans’ defensive coordinator (2021 to 2023). The veteran pass-rusher totaled 28.5 sacks across those three seasons, starting 33 games for Bowen.

In 2023, Autry finished with a career-high 11.5 sacks to go along with 50 combined tackles, 12 tackles for loss, and two forced fumbles. Bowen got the most out of Autry in his 10th season of his playing career.

Autry signed a three-year, $21.5 million contract with the Titans back in 2021. After playing out the entirety of the deal, Autry will be hitting the open market at 34 years old this offseason, likely cashing in for the final big payday of his career.

Under Bowen in 2023, the Titans’ defense totaled 45 sacks despite blitzing only 22.0% of the time. The team’s pass-rushers were relied on to create the majority of the unit’s pressure, rather than relying on sending extra rushers in after the quarterback.

Having a player familiar with Bowen’s system like Autry could help create a more seamless transition for the team. Bowen’s defense is far different from the scheme that the Giants ran under Wink Martindale’s tutelage the past two seasons. Bringing in players familiar with Bowen and ready to play in the system from day one would be beneficial.

Among the edge rushers who will be available in free agency this offseason, Autry could be one of the best value signings. Pro Football Focus projects a one-year, $7.25 million contract for the veteran, describing him as “one of the strongest five-technique defensive ends in the game.” He ranks 64th on their list of free agents available this offseason.

The Giants should make Autry a priority signing this offseason. He could provide tremendous value to the team’s front seven as it transitions to a new scheme under Bowen.

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