It is no secret that the New York Giants desperately need help at outside linebacker, considering their pass rush was limited at times due to injury. Early on in the season, both Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines, the Giants’ starters at OLB, went down with individual ailments.
Carter tore his Achilles against the Dallas Cowboys, and Ximines suffered a shoulder injury that landed him on IR. Ultimately, both of them missed the remainder of the season, forcing players like Carter Coughlin and veteran Jabaal Sheard to earn more minutes than expected.
Surprisingly, defensive coordinator Patrick Graham managed to curate a pass rush without depth at OLB. Thanks to a strong interior pass rush and well-schemed games, the Giants still managed to produce more than 40 sacks this past season.
However, there is little justification to continue relying on Carter and Ximines as their primary pass rushers, considering their injuries. This free agency could represent a solid opportunity for the Giants to acquire an above-average pass rusher, so let’s take a few available options on the market.
Three free-agent pass rushers the New York Giants should consider:
1.) Yannick Ngakoue
One of the bigger names is Yannick Ngakoue, a 6-foot-2, 246-pound defensive end. He has the ability to play in the dirt and also outside linebacker. Having a pass rusher who can play three-technique, five-technique, and OLB is extremely valuable. Graham loves to use his players in multiple ways, so Ngakoue would be a perfect fit for the Giants, but his price tag likely won’t be. Spotrac has him valued at $12 million for 2020, but after posting 8.0 sacks and 10 QB hits this past year, I expect him to land a multi-year deal worth at least $16 million per season.
With the salary cap expected to drop exponentially and the Giants projected to re-sign Leonard Williams on a big deal, I don’t believe Ngakoue will be within their price range. In addition, he has been inconsistent over the past few seasons but does represent one of the better options on the market at just 25 years old — I love his versatility and diversity when playing in different techniques, but again, the Giants simply don’t have the money available, especially with wide receiver being a significant need.
2.) Leonard Floyd
Another adequate option for the New York Giants is Leonard Floyd, who was previously of interest back in 2016 before the Chicago Bears leapfrogged Big Blue and selected him. After four inconsistent seasons with Chicago, Floyd has catapulted to another level in 2020. The 28-year-old linebacker recorded 10.5 sacks, 55 combined tackles, 19 quarterback hits, and 11 tackles for loss this season. In other words, he has taken his game to another level, and having a good interior defense around him has only benefited his development.
With the Giants expected to retain Leonard Williams and potentially Dalvin Tomlinson, Floyd could fit the bill perfectly as a standup pass rusher. In addition, he can also play a variety of roles, dropping back into shallow coverage and covering the flats, which is something that Patrick Graham likes to do with his OLBs.
However, given Floyd’s breakout season, he could be in line for a big contract. The Giants could offer him a deal worth $14 million per season that might get it done, but he also might be out of their price range.
3.) Jordan Jenkins
The first two options are a bit more pricey, but the Giants could look to Jets’ outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins as a potential supplement. Jenkins is only 26 years old and has good size at 6-foot-3 and 259 pounds. In 2019, he recorded 8.0 sacks and 13 quarterback hits, but his production fell off this past season, recording just 2.0 sacks and six quarterback hits.
Nonetheless, the Jets were extremely disappointing, and with a better team around him and some motivation, Jenkins can be an extremely productive pass rusher. In addition, he could be a very cheap alternative for the Giants, we are likely going to move on from Kyler Fackrell this off-season.
A two-year deal worth $7 million could get it done after he signed a one-year, $3.75 million deal with the Jets this past off-season. I think Jenkins can actually be quite a productive player when given the tools, and Graham is known for extracting the most out of his defenders.