The New York Giants will be looking to fix their defense in the 2020 offseason. Free agency is right around the corner, and there has been lots of talk about the Giants making runs at the biggest names on the open market. However, fans need to temper their expectations. The Giants have significant money to spend, but it would be reckless to blow it all in one offseason.
The Giants will need to look at lesser expensive options as well as the stars that will be available. One name that the Giants should be linked to is linebacker/edge rusher Kyle Van Noy. Van Noy is an impending free agent that could be an immense upgrade at a position of need for the Giants’ defense.
Ties To The New Head Coach
Kyle Van Noy has spent his last three and a half seasons playing for the New England Patriots. The seven-year NFL veteran had a good relationship with Joe Judge, the Giants’ new head coach. Judge was with New England since 2012.
When Van Noy learned of Judge’s promotion as New York’s new head coach, he was excited for his former special teams coordinator. While appearing on “The Pat McAfee Show” this offseason, Kyle described Joe Judge as a “ball of energy” and a “really, really good coach” that loves football. At the end of his discussion about Joe Judge, Kyle Van Noy exclaimed: “Go, Giants!”
Of course, Van Noy is probably just showing support for his former coach. But, being that he is an impending free agent, Kyle Van Noy could have been hinting at a desire to reunite with Joe Judge in New York. If that is what Van Noy wants, the Giants should be on board and should pursue him in free agency.
A Solid Pass-Rusher And An Elite Run-Defender
When looking at Kyle Van Noy’s career stats, it is noticeable that he has only 17.5 career sacks in seven seasons. However, there is more to the story. Van Noy played off-ball linebacker for most of his career. He has always been a dominant run-defender but has not been used much as a primary pass-rusher.
Granted, New England still sent Van Noy on many blitzes, and he was highly efficient. As an off-ball linebacker in 2018, Kyle Van Noy totaled 275 pass-rush snaps in the regular season and racked up 36 pressures (Pro Football Focus).
That changed this season when Kyle Van Noy changed positions. In New England’s 2019 defense, Kyle Van Noy was moved to edge rusher. In this role, Van Noy totaled 60 pressures, 6.5 sacks, and a pressure rate of 13.8%, which ranked 26th best at his position (Pro Football Focus).
Though he is a great pass-rusher, Kyle Van Noy is an elite run defender. He earned an 85.4 run-defense grade on Pro Football Focus, an elite grade that ranked top-five at his position. He also totaled 56 combined tackles and 7 tackles for loss in 2019 as an edge rusher. As an off-ball linebacker in 2018, Kyle Van Noy racked up 92 combined tackles.
Kyle Van Noy, as mentioned previously, is a former off-ball linebacker. However, in 2019, he switched positions and became an edge rusher. As a full-time edge rusher in 2019, Kyle had maybe the best season of his career. The Giants could sign him to play either position or both, but wherever he plays, he would be one of the most impactful players on the defense.
Van Noy’s versatility lines up with head coach Joe Judge’s vision. Judge made it clear that he prioritizes “personnel versatility” in his introductory press conference:
…I’ve prepared myself for was leading into every draft I studied every player in the draft as a player and an athlete. I didn’t look at them as a receiver, I didn’t look at them as a tight end, I didn’t look at them as a linebacker… I’m used to looking at things from a big picture perspective on players in terms of what they bring to the team as a whole… I want to know what kind of athlete this man is and how we can use his toolset to our advantage. – Joe Judge, during his introductory press conference.
A Manageable Contract
Kyle Van Noy would bring upgraded pass-rushing and run-defending abilities to the Giants’ defense. His experience playing multiple positions at a high level makes him a reliable, versatile option for the Giants to pursue in the 2020 offseason. Additionally, Van Noy would cost a fraction of the price of the biggest pass-rushers in free agency (such as Ngakoue and Clowney). Players like that are in line for nearly $20 million, but Kyle Van Noy’s contract is projected to be three years, $31.5 million ($15 million guaranteed).