The New York Giants have several pillars on the defense, and one of them is safety Jabrill Peppers, who not only brings a unique blend of coverage ability and run-stopping prowess but energy to a team that has lacked in the past.
Peppers first entered the NFL with the Cleveland Browns, transitioning from strong safety to free safety during his first two years, but it wasnâ€™t until this past season where he truly found his potential under coordinator Patrick Graham.
To give you an idea of how much Graham helped Peppers elevate his game, he set personal bests in almost every influential defensive category. To list them all, Peppers improved in tackles, tackles for a loss, sacks, passes defended, pressures, hurries and posted the lowest missed tackle right of his career.
Statistically, he recorded 91 tackles, eight tackles for a loss, three QB hits, 2.5 sacks, and posted 11 passes defended. He was one of the Giantsâ€™ best defensive players and is only set to make $6.7 million this upcoming season, but some believe he could be a trade piece prior to the start of the campaign.
CBS Sports believes the Giants could trade Jabirll Peppers for cap space, which makes little sense:
Heâ€™s still a big name with a big role, but with 2022 free agency on the horizon, Peppers could be dangled for the chance to gain $6.8M in cap savings for a team with just $2.4M in current space. Itâ€™s not as if New York hasnâ€™t invested in alternatives at the position, paying up to retain Logan Ryan, recently spending a high pick on Xavier McKinney and finding snaps for the versatile Julian Love.
Even if the Giants did manage to find a trade partner for Peppers, they would be creating a weakness where they currently have a strength. Adding $6.7 million to their $2.4 million available funds would have little impact, considering the only unit that could theoretically use an upgrade is the offensive line, and the options on the market are thin.
Some might argue that Xavier McKinney can play the role that Peppers currently houses, but the Alabama product is still finding his sea legs in the NFL and is far less adequate against the run. McKinney stands at 6â€™0â€ and 201 pounds, while Peppers has 20 pounds of additional muscle mass, giving him a bit more thump in the run game.
In addition, Jabrill is one of the teamâ€™s captains, and after letting Dalvin Tomlinson walk in free agency, parting ways with two captains doesnâ€™t exactly scream efficiency in the locker room. The Michigan product has provided a level of energy for the Giantsâ€™ defense that was incomprehensible before his acquisition in the OBJ trade with the Browns.
If thereâ€™s an argument for trading away Peppers, it boils down to the trade deadline, and if the team is struggling, looking to add draft capital for the future. However, trading him away now and creating a weakness could be viewed as malpractice. If there’s any course of action, the Giants should be looking to extend Peppers before the end of the season than trade him, as his value could sky-rocket after another impressive campaign littered with growth and quality.