The New York Giants have a long way to go before they have a well-rounded roster, but their defense has played above expectations the last few seasons.
In 2021, the Giants’ defense ranked 21st in the league in yards allowed per game, 23rd in points allowed and 25th in rushing yards allowed. Unfortunately, when your offense simply can’t stay on the field, the defense has to pick up the slack, which is exactly what Patrick Graham was forced to do.
However, Graham picked up his belongings and headed out to Las Vegas, leaving the Defensive Coordinator spot open for the taking. The Giants went out and landed Wink Martindale, who was released from the Baltimore Ravens this off-season.
Martindale plays an aggressive man coverage system that relies on speed and intensity. This requires athletic defensive edge rushers and great man coverage cornerbacks.
The best way to build a defense is by drafting young pass rushers and developing the roster around their rookie contracts. That is why Azeez Ojulari and Kayvon Thibodeaux are such an exciting duo for Big Blue.
Ojulari has a salary hit of just $1.5 million, whereas Thibodeaux holds a $5.7 million hit against the cap. Combined, they take up just $7.2 million in salary space, which is less than what the Giants are paying Blake Martinez coming off an ACL tear.
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The New York Giants have filled expensive positions with cost-controlled contracts:
The Giants have three more years left on Ojulari’s contract, and Thibodeaux’s hasn’t even begun. Because Kayvon is a first-round pick, they also have the fifth-year option down the road, putting management in a great spot moving forward at one of the league’s most expensive positions.
Now, general manager Joe Schoen can begin to re-allocate resources toward the offense and secondary in the future. Of course, there is a big decision to make on Daniel Jones, depending on how he performs in 2022, so they may have to spend a ton of resources to land a young quarterback in next year’s draft.
However, they did a great job building the offensive line despite having minimal salary space to utilize. At the very least, they know they have several pillars on the defensive side that aren’t taking up a ton of salary space.
The most expensive player on the defensive side is Leonard Williams, who hosts a $27.3 million cap hit this year. The Giants can move on in 2023, saving $18 million against the cap by cutting Williams.
Next off-season, the Giants project to have $55.2 million in salary space, giving them plenty of flexibility to sign new players and inject more talent at weak spots.