Could the New York Giants find their starting free safety in the second round of the draft?

New York Giants, Antoine Winfield Jr.

With the release of Antoine Bethea, the New York Giants have a void at the free safety position. They could travel down several avenues in their quest to filling the job with a quality player — a position that has lacked talent for years now.

Bethea struggled in coverage in 2019, recording just one interception, which came within five yards of the line of scrimmage against the Dallas Cowboys. His 72.5 completion percentage is inadequate. He allowed 497 yards and seven scores, yes, you read that right, seven touchdowns.

The Giants need to upgrade this spot along with the offensive tackle and pass rusher position, and they could look to the draft to fill all of these voids.

The draft does offer one quality free safety at the top of the second round in Minnesota’s Antoine Winfield.

Winfield is a ball-hawk style of player who can fill a serious gap in the secondary, and the Giants know all about bad secondary efficiency.

What would Antoine Winfield bring to the New York Giants?

While the Minnesota product isn’t the tallest or most athletic player, he’s quick and has the tenacity to play at the NFL level. His balance and strength make him a great option at the free safety position, and while the Giants draft Julian Love last year in the fourth round to potentially fill that hole, creating competition is always a positive thing.

Love can also play slot corner along with Grant Haley if they elect to draft Winfield, establishing a young secondary with plenty of potential to work with.

The biggest knock on Winfield is that his lack of elite athleticism hinders his ability to tackle efficiently, meaning he will need impeccable fundamentals in the NFL. New head coach Joe Judge harps on having great fundamentals, so this could be a perfect match moving forward.  The Giants do have other needs, though, as offensive tackle and pass rusher remains the most significant needs.

New York Giants cut safety Antoine Bethea — what’s next?

New York Giants, Antoine Bethea

The New York Giants elected to decline the option on free safety and Antoine Bethea on Wednesday, opening up $2.7 million in cap space, according to The Athletic’s, Dan Duggan.

General manager Dave Gettleman has made a series of moves to open up more cap to allocate in free agency. I imagine they will likely spend some money at the position, as Bethea was poor in coverage last season. He posted just one interception, which came within five yards of the line of scrimmage, six passes defended, and 110 combine tackles. He acted as a better strong safety, moving up to stop the run.

However, with Jabrill peppers returning in 2020, Bethea’s skill set isn’t needed any longer.

Who’s left on the market for the New York Giants?

The options still available on the market include Malcolm Jenkins, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Clayton Geathers, and several other options.

I imagine that Clinton-Dix and Jenkins are the two more appealing options for the Giants if they elect to go that route. Clinton-Dix, who is 27 years old and formally of the Green Bay Packers, could be a decent option, especially with the recent trend for Big Blue including former Packers’ players.

They could also look to the NFL draft to sure up the free safety position, but they would have to accept the fact that a decline in experience and quality would accompany that decision. They could also plug Julian Love into that role, who recorded in interception last season at the position.

New York Giants: Ogletree and Martin Cut- Who’s Next?

New York Giants, Antoine Bethea

The New York Giants made two major roster moves today. New York freed up $13.05 million in cap space after cutting linebackers Alec Ogletree and Kareem Martin. These cuts were expected to be made all offseason but are now official.

The Giants will save a nice chunk of cap space by letting Ogletree and Martin go. But they likely are not going to stop there. Here are a couple more veteran players the Giants might soon cut from the roster:

Rhett Ellison

The New York Giants signed Rhett Ellison in 2017. Since then, he has served as the second-string tight end behind Evan Engram. Engram has been used as the team’s receiving tight end since his speed and athleticism make him a bit of a matchup nightmare. But Ellison, on the other hand, has been used primarily as a blocker.

The Giants signed Ellison to a four-year deal worth $18 million. He has been making $4.5 million on average annually. 2020 is the final year on Rhett’s contract. New York can save $5 million in cap space if they cut Rhett Ellison this offseason.

Ellison has not had a huge role in the offense the past few years and it seems like the Giants have found a sound replacement in Kaden Smith. It would be a wise move to release the 31-year-old tight end.

Antoine Bethea

If the Giants cut Antoine Bethea like they are expected to, he will be a “one-and-done” player. Dave Gettleman and the Giants signed Bethea last offseason. Antoine’s performance in 2019 was disappointing, to say the least.

The Giants signed Antoine Bethea to a two-year, $6.5 million deal last year. Cutting Bethea this offseason would save the Giants $2.75 million in cap space for the 2020 season.

The Giants might already have Antoine’s replacement on the roster in Julian Love. Regardless, Bethea is 35-years-old and looks like a shell of his former self. The Giants are likely to move on from the veteran safety in the coming weeks.

New York Giants: 3 sure-fire cut candidates to add cap-space

With the New York Giants in need of an influx in defensive and offensive line talent, we can expect GM Dave Gettleman to be active in the free-agent market this offseason.

The demise of left tackle Nate Solder and overall poor performance from the defense in 2019 will justify allocations of both cap-space and draft capital. Whether or not the Giants can lure any big-name free agents to New York is a different story, but new head coach Joe Judge has received plenty of glowing reviews to advocate for Giants’ future.

Big Blue will need to clear more cap-space before diving into the FA pool, as they currently sit at $61.88 million.

Here are three sure-fire cut candidates for the New York Giants:

1.) LB Alec Ogletree

Ogletree has been one of the more disappointing players for the Giants in recent years, and his $11.75 million cap-hit in 2020 should be catapulted off the books. If cut, the Giants would add $8.25 million, but they would eat a $3.5 million in dead cap. This should be an easy decision for a team that can use the capital elsewhere to inject more talent into specific positions.

Gettleman must cut ties with Ogletree this offseason after trading for him from the Rams in 2018. The return of Ryan Connelly and Isaiah Simmons likely being available with the 4th pick should present the Giants with a way to boost the linebacker corps.

2.) TE Rhett Ellison

Ellison’s injury in 2019 forced rookie Kaden Smith into an expanded role, which ultimately wrote the veteran tight end off the script for the future. Ellison’s $7.188 million cap-hit isn’t worth the value he brings to the team anymore, and the $5 million the team would save if cut presents more opportunity.

3.) S Antoine Bethea

This is an easy decision for the Giants after seeing Bethea fail to make a difference in the defensive backfield. He played well against the run but was putrid as a free safety in the secondary. His $2.875 million would be written off almost entirely if the Giants elect to cut him this offseason ($2.75 million saved).

Bethea remains a great veteran presence in the locker room, but he’s not a great football player anymore at his current age.

One top free safety the New York Giants can target in free agency

New York Giants could look into Devin Mccourty this offseason.

The New York Giants entered the 2020 offseason with another losing campaign under their belt; however, it subsequently landed them the 4th overall pick in the NFL Draft. New head coach Joe Judge has plenty of work to do ahead of free agency and the draft, specifically regarding player evaluations to determine what positions need the most capital allocated towards them.

One of the weaker positions for the Giants last season was at free safety. General manager Dave Gettleman plugged Antoine Bethea into the spot, despite his lack of coverage skills. Bethea is a strong run-stopping safety, and he showed that when playing closer to the line of scrimmage. His only interception of the year came right behind the line of scrimmage against Dallas Cowboys’ Dak Prescott.

Replacing Bethea will be a priority for Big Blue, and there’s one free agent that could fit the bill perfectly.

Could the New York Giants pursue Devin McCourty in FA?

Judge is very familiar with McCourty, having both coached/played for the New England Patriots. The veteran defensive back would bring experience and knowledge regarding the Patriots’ ways, a culture that Judge will be looking to implement.

At 33-years-old, Devin is no spring chicken, but his 10-years of experience would prove to be valuable on defense. Having logged 58 tackles, seven passes defended, and five interceptions in 2019, he won’t come cheap by any means. Still, the Giants need to invest in the bolstering of this position, especially with the youth at cornerback.

Aside from his undeniable on-field talent, McCourty would be a mentor for the younger defenders and help install the culture Judge is bringing to New York.

Over The Cap estimates that McCourty will be valued at around $10 million per season. A two-year contract would lock him into a solidified role with Big Blue until he’s 35, the perfect amount of time for the Giants to rely on the veteran but also find a young gun to develop. They might already have that player on the roster in Julian Love, who they moved around the defense last season as a utility option.

New York Giants news, 1/5 – Here’s a free safety the Giants should target

New York Giants could look into Devin Mccourty this offseason.

Good Morning, New York Giants Fans!

The New York Giants could be in the market for a starting free safety this offseason, considering the lackluster job Antoine Bethea did in coverage in 2019. Bethea played well against the run but struggled in the secondary, tallying six passes defended.

Bethea’s struggles spread across several categories, specifically interceptions (1 – ranking 43rd), targets (25 – ranked 50th), receptions allowed (17 – ranked 49th). Moving on from the veteran defender is not a matter of how, but when for the Giants, who are looking to bolster their defense in the coming months.

General manager Dave Gettleman did draft Julian Love out of Notre Dame, with the purpose of developing him into a hybrid cornerback. Love spent time at corner, slot corner, and free safety this past season. His frame and athleticism allow him to be a utility option on the defense, but his development didn’t prove enough to justify starting him during the 2020 campaign

Here’s one free agent safety the Giants should look into:

1.) Devin McCourty

The New England Patriots’ veteran free safety has been a consistently reliable ball-hawk for years, and featuring on one of the league’s best teams gives him the knowledge and experience to help younger players around him.

If the Pats don’t extend McCourty, the Giants should consider bidding on the 33-year-old defensive back. The 10-year veteran logged 58 combined tackles, seven passes defended and five interceptions this season, proving his worth in the final year of a five-year contract.

Injecting a proper free safety into the defense with plenty of experience would give the New York Giants the value they’re looking for while they develop Love. Devin’s mentorship would also be incredibly beneficial towards Love and the other young defensive backs.


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New York Giants: 3 defensive cut casualties after the 2019 season

New York Giants, Antoine Bethea

At 2-10 on the season, the New York Giants should have one priority moving forward — develop their youth. Rookies DeAndre Baker, Sam Beal, Julian Love, Dexter Lawrence, Darius Slayton, Kadem Smith, and Oshane Ximines should all be featured in a high-capacity role for the remainder of the regular season.

Love, who was learning the system for the first 11 weeks, played a significant portion of the team’s Week 13 loss to the Green Bay Packers. He has looked stellar so far, earning the highest grade on the defense, per PFF.

Julian Love had another strong game for the Giants, he made a couple of excellent tackles and forced a fumble coming out of nowhere to surprise Davante Adams. He is the Giants highest-graded player, 83.7 overall, back to back 80+ grades in his first two games with a heavy workload.

With the Notre Dame product making his presence felt, the services of Antoine Bethea aren’t needed an expended capacity. There are numerous veteran defenders that will make way this offseason for the upbringing of the Giants’ youthful players, let’s take a look at who’s on the chopping block.

Three defenders the New York Giants could part ways with:

1.) Alec Ogletree

When GM Dave Gettleman traded for Ogletree two years ago, he imagined a strong run-stopping linebacker. That expectation has not come to fruition, as Ogletree has been an absolute liability in coverage for two seasons and has missed tackles at a consistent rate.

The Giants haven’t been able to get the value they gave up in the trade for Ogletree, and his $11.75 million cap hit this season is astronomical. However, his dead-cap hit of $3.5 million makes him expendable, since keeping him would lock the Giants into $11.75 million in cap allocations. Cutting him and investing the saved money into a better player should be an easy decision for Gettleman, considering his fourth-round pick in Ryan Connelly was able to steal Ogletree’s spot in just one pre-season.

2.) Antoine Bethea

Bethea has been one of the worst free safeties in the league while playing back in coverage. Against the run, he has been stellar, but while featuring as the last man in coverage, Bethea has given up big-play after big-play. Julian Love has supplemented him with ease and proved to be a better option in the defensive backfield.

Despite Bethea’s lack of quality at free safety, his experience and knowledge of the game have been essential to the development of Love, who has looked great through two weeks of active play. The Giants see him as a potential long-term option at free safety, and they will move on from Bethea in lieu of the decision.

3.) Kareem Martin

Most would forget Martin was still on the team, let alone the league. The former Arizona Cardinal was brought in to help establish DC James Bettcher’s scheme and help new/older players adapt.

Martin missed all of 2019 with a sprained knee. His value is next to none and still has one year remaining on his deal. Last season, he played in all 16 games, recording 48 combined tackles and 1.5 sacks. If the Giants retain him, he will count about $6 million against the camp and $1.3 in dead cap if he’s cut.

This should be an easy decision for Gettleman.

New York Giants week 13: 3 players up and 3 players down

New York Giants, Antoine Bethea

Most didn’t predict the New York Giants would overcome the Green Bay Packers on Sunday in a Week 13 matchup littered by snowflakes and rain. Not even Michael Strahan could find the confidence within to pick his former team to walk away with a win, and he was spot on, as most analysts were before the start of the contest.

The Giants fell 31-13, as rookie passer Daniel Jones threw three interceptions during the blowout. The first half saw the Giants creeping up on Green Bay before the inevitably pulled away with ease.

Let’s take a look at three players that were up and down for the New York Giants:

1.) Kaden Smith – UP

The 22-year-old rookie earned his inception into the NFL last week, coming down with his first score. Against the Packers, he didn’t pepper the stats with incredible numbers, but he did display great balance in the passing game, logging six receptions for 70-yards.

Smith has quietly worked his way up the depth chart and has filled in valiantly for the injured Evan Engram and Rhett Ellison. He’s in line to receive more playing time due to his reliable performance.

2.) Antoine Bethea – DOWN

It’s no surprise that Bethea was burned in coverage once again, but to be man-handled by Allen Lazard on a deep touchdown pass was the icing on the cake. Lazar simply changed directions, turning Bethea all the way around, putting him in no position to make a play.

He has shown quality near the line of scrimmage, but he has been a liability in the defensive backfield all season long.

3.) Julian Love – UP

For the second straight week, rookie safety, Julian Love, looked solid in coverage and even came up to make several excellent stops near the line of scrimmage.

This was an excellent sign for the Giants defense, considering their lack of quality across the field, Love has been a breath of fresh air heading into the dead-portion of the season. The Giants are officially eliminated from playoff contention, so any positives from their young players are essential to the team’s growth.

4.) Sam Beal – DOWN

Beal was lined up across from Packers No. 1 receiver DeVante Adams far too often on Sunday. This only indicates that Big Blue is more concerned with logging film on their rookie than winning the football game. Beal struggled heavily in coverage, allowing an easy touchdown to Adams in the fourth quarter.

While Beal has missed the majority of the season, the Giants didn’t allow him to gain confidence as they matched him up with one of the league’s best receivers.

5.) Darius Slayton – UP

If there’s any takeaway from this season that’s positive for Big Blue, it’s that they have something special in wide receiver, Darius Slayton. The former Auburn standout has seen his hands become glue, and his clutchness evolve throughout the season.

His trust with Daniel Jones has progressed nicely, and Slayton’s ability to come up on third downs has shined through. Without Golden Tate on the field on Sunday, Slayton picked up the slack, managing six receptions for 44 yards. Those numbers aren’t noteworthy, but his presence has undoubtedly been felt on offense.

6.) Markus Golden – DOWN

Golden didn’t have the worst game of the season, but he was almost non-existent in the pass-rush. He recorded just one QB-hit but managed to log eight total tackles.

Golden has been the Giants’ best pass-rusher this season, but a ghost-performance on Sunday helped officially eliminate the Giants from playoff contention. He’s looking to cash in on a productive season, but games like this hurt his value.

What are the priorities for the New York Giants heading into December?

New York Giants, Dexter Lawrence

With the New York Giants sitting at 2-9 on the season and having lost their last nine games, December doesn’t mean much in terms of a playoff push or competitive finish. As players continue to pick up injuries and miss games, Big Blue will be forced to utilize the remainder of the season to develop their young players, similar to what they’ve been doing since the beginning of the 2019 campaign.

Head coach Pat Shurmur needs to focus on his youthful players that are progressing into potential starters. Making the shift from Antoine Bethea at free safety to Julian Love was the beginning of that transition. Love enjoyed a positive first game with the Giants, finishing with an overall grade of 80.1, per PFF. He recorded an interception and zero coverage receptions in the defensive backfield, far better than Bethea has shown this season.

The veteran free safety has been a liability in coverage but solid against the run. When defensive coordinator James Bettcher features Bethea in a strong-safety style, closer to the line of scrimmage, he has been effective. The secondary for the Giants will be a priority moving forward in December, with a focus on cornerback and free safety.

Corners DeAndre Baker and Sam Beal are two players who Shurmur will want to gain more film on. Baker has had an up-and-down season, showing promise at times but vulnerability at others. Last week against the Chicago Bears, Baker played 46 snaps compared to Beal’s 27. The latter has worked his way back from numerous injuries, the latest being a hamstring that kept him sidelined for a majority of the season.

When asked about his style compared to Beal’s, Baker stated (NY Post):

“Beal’s style is different than mine, and we’ve got two different skill sets,” Baker said. “You always stay prepared for when your number is called. I was watching everything as if I was in the game, still making the calls.”

The Giants will continue to rotate Baker and Beal in coverage, with the eventual idea to split reps 50/50. This will give Shurmur plenty of tape on Beal, who the Giants will need to factor into their plans next offseason.

The New York Giants must also iron out the defensive line:

One of the most significant moves for the Giants this season was the trade for Leonard Williams. The former Jet has the physical traits to be a great interior lineman, but his lack of consistency has plagued his career up to this point. Williams logged just one combined tackle in week 12, highlighting a disappointing performance for the former first-round pick.

GM Dave Gettleman giving up ample draft capital for the defender is looking like a wrong move and considering he’s a free agent after this season, the Giants have minimal leverage in contract talks. I estimate he will earn somewhere in the $12-14 million range.

Dexter Lawrence is another defender that will be prioritized in December. Allowing him to mesh with Williams and develop a chemistry with the former Jet is essential. Lawrence, who is ranked as one of the best interior defenders this season, has shown significant growth in his rookie campaign.

PFF wrote …

Lawrence once again put forth a very commendable performance from the middle of the Giants’ defensive front, and he ended the game with the seventh 70.0-plus overall game grade of his young career. His best work came in the run game, where he didn’t manage to record a run stop on the day, but he was a constant menace at the point of attack. He also added a hit and hurry from his 36 snaps as a pass-rusher. Through 12 weeks of action, Lawrence ranks 11th among 128 qualifying interior defensive linemen in overall grade, while his 88.8 run-defense grade ranks fifth among that same group of players.

The Giants have a great building block in Lawrence, who’s quickly becoming a dominant force in the trenches. Another solid contributor has been Oshane Ximines. The third-round selection has logged two sacks, and four QB hits in his rookie year, so far. While those numbers don’t jump off the screen, he has been a rotational piece behind Markus Golden. He has averaged less than 50% of defensive snaps this season, but he has been more prominent on special teams.


New York Giants news, 11/28 – Is Julian Love the future at free safety?

Good Morning, New York Giants Fans!

The New York Giants’ mentality towards the 2019 season was to develop their youth and provide them with essential live-action experience. Rookies, such has DeAndre Baker, Corey Ballentine, Dexter Lawrence, and Oshane Ximines, have all been utilized frequently this season on defense.

However, Julian Love, cornerback out of Notre Dame, has been absent the entire season, as a precaution for his transition from cornerback to free safety. The Giants have kept him protected from live-action, allowing him to learn from Antoine Bethea and progress mentality within the position. In week 12, though, he was given the green light to enjoy some time on the field with the first team.

Love earned 55% of defensive snaps against the Chicago Bears, coming down with an interception on an errant Mitchell Trubisky throw. He finished the day with an 80.1 grade, according to PFF. He did not allow a reception in coverage during his 42 snaps, which is stellar, considering how porous Bethea has been in coverage this season.

Bethea is currently the 24th ranked safety, per PFF. His 71.9 rating tells the story in regards to his coverage abilities, but his 79.8 grade against the run is what has made him effective at times. Defensive coordinator James Bettcher has utilized him closer to the line of scrimmage in recent weeks to supplement his weak coverage skills. He recorded an interception on the first play of the game against the Dallas Cowboys in week 9, lined up about five yards off the LOS.

I expect to see Love in an expanded role moving forward, as the New York Giants seem ready to instill their confidence in the rookie defensive back. He has undoubtedly earned the opportunity to see more reps in coverage, and his development should be a priority for head coach Pat Shurmur and James Bettcher.


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