Should the New York Giants bring back Jabrill Peppers on one-year deal?

New York Giants, Jabrill Peppers
Nov 8, 2020; Landover, Maryland, USA; New York Giants safety Jabrill Peppers (21) reacts after intercepting a pass Washington Football Team during the fourth quarter at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

During New York Giants general manager Joe Schoen’s introductory press conference, he noted that oftentimes you miss more on the person than the player. The ability to fight through injury and perform for your team no matter the pain is something that is built into character.

If there’s any singular player that contains the fighting spirit and energy required to be a great NFL player, it is safety Jabrill Peppers. Unfortunately, injury and inconsistencies have impacted his career.

Peppers ended his 2021 season prematurely after suffering a torn ACL in Week 7 against the Carolina Panthers. Peppers recorded 29 combined tackles, two tackles for loss, and one pass defended. He struggled in coverage last season, giving up a total of 225 yards and one touchdown, which came against the New Orleans Saints in Week 4, a game the Giants actually won.

However, Big Blue is going in a different direction with their defense after Patrick Graham elected to depart, joining the Las Vegas Raiders. New head coach Brian Daboll hired Wink Martindale to take over, the Ravens’ former DC.

Martindale is known for his blitz-heavy scheme, ranking 6th during the 2021 season in blitz rate among NFL teams. Despite significant injuries and disruptions, Martindale still managed to produce the second-most sacks in the NFL. His defense is predicated on unique blitz packages and pressure schemes to throw quarterbacks off and make them operate at a faster pace, which increases mistakes.

Peppers may actually be a perfect player in Martindale’s system, showcasing energy and physicality as a blitzer and run defender. At 5-foot-11 and 213 pounds, Peppers doesn’t have the big frame you’d like for a middle linebacker, coming in about 20 pounds lighter and 3 inches shorter than Blake Martinez.

However, Martindale deployed linebacker Patrick Queen with the Baltimore Ravens, standing at a similar height compared to Peppers but also about 20 pounds heavier. If Peppers can add a bit more weight onto his frame, he could make the transition to a linebacker role instead of strong safety.

James Bettcher coined the term “money-backer,” a more versatile LB who can drop into coverage and act as a hybrid safety. Given Peppers’ underrated physicality and speed attacking the offensive backfield, Martindale could see him as an asset moving forward.

It is possible the Giants present him with a one-year deal coming off an ACL tear. It is unlikely he receives a multi-year contract after a serious injury, so the Giants may be able to retain him on a cost-efficient contract. Peppers’ projected AAV sits at about $2.5 million, but the Giants may be able to keep him around at $2 million.

More realistically, though, the Giants will allow him to walk this off-season as Martindale targets players he’s familiar with. They will also use the 2022 NFL draft to inject more talent into the defense, helping turn over the personnel groupings to Martindale’s liking.