There’s no hiding the fact that the New York Giants have a modest salary space to navigate with this off-season, with a mere $3.8 million at their disposal.
Nonetheless, a handful of free agents might be appropriate and beneficial for either side of the field. One standout choice is outside linebacker Yannick Ngakoue.
Ngakoue recently completed a one-year, $13M contract with the Indianapolis Colts. However, at 28 years old, he’s not necessarily seeking another significant paycheck; instead, his priority is to join a team with a winning trajectory.
“I definitely want to play for a contender, play for a team and an organization that wants to win a Super Bowl,” Ngakoue said on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “That’s one of the things on my agenda, to be able to help and contribute to that. Hopefully I can get some great interest from a contender.”
With the Giants having won a playoff game in 2022 and boasting one of the superior coaching staffs in football, who’s to say Ngakoue wouldn’t be interested in joining Big Blue for the 2023 season, possibly at a team-friendly cost?
The Giants would need to restructure several contracts, particularly those of Leonard Williams or Adoree Jackson, to free up sufficient salary space. This approach is far from ideal unless management genuinely believes they have a chance at making significant progress this year.
Admittedly, a more formidable team like the Chiefs, Bengals, or even the Bills could be appealing destinations, but the Giants are poised to make significant progress, and they are deficient in depth at the OLB position.
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The Giants maintain extreme confidence in Thibodeaux and OJulari:
With Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari as the team’s main outside linebackers, Ngakoue would need to vie for a starting position, something he might not be eager to do.
However, with Ojulari battling to maintain his fitness in 2022 and some reservations about relying on him as a long-term solution, the Giants might consider enhancing the position opposite their 2022 fifth-round pick, Kayvon Thibodeaux.
In 2022, Ngakoue achieved 12 sacks with 44 total pressures and 13 tackles. The primary concern with Yannick is his run-stopping proficiency, as he has a career missed tackle rate of 21.6% and a rate of 22.7% last year.
Having added several substantial run-stoppers to the interior defensive line, the Giants might be hesitant to create another gap on the outside, thereby creating a liability.
Ngakoue is a top-notch pass rusher and has logged more seasons with double-digit sack totals than not, demonstrating his worth. If he were willing to accept a team-friendly deal with incentives included, the Giants could be a fitting destination, but that relies on their willingness to utilize any remaining salary space they have.
While this scenario is improbable, it’s worth discussing since the Giants could benefit from enhancing their OLB unit.
In my opinion, it’s premature to label Ojulari as prone to injury, and his potential when fit is considerable. Engaging a quality reserve OLB would likely be a more budget-friendly and productive strategy.