New York Giants: 3 wide receivers battling for final spot on unit

New York Giants, Corey Coleman

With training camp a few weeks away, the New York Giants have several positions they need to iron out ahead of the regular season. One unit that will require some attention is the wide receivers, who have one final spot to fill.

Currently, the top three options remain Golden Tate, Sterling Shepard, and Darius Slayton. All three missed time in 2019 due to injury or suspension, but they will head into 2020 with a full bill of health and no disciplinary issues. While the same can’t be said for some other players on the team, the receivers are in a good place and should be prepared to help Daniel Jones build off an impressive rookie campaign.

Here are three New York Giants’ WRs who will be competing for the No. 4 spot:

1.) Corey Coleman

General manager Dave Gettleman seemingly has a soft spot for Corey Coleman. Coleman has been unable to play a full season with the Giants, suffering a torn ACL during training camp last year and playing in just eight games in 2018. His five receptions with Big Blue over two years equates to 71 yards.

There is value to be had with Coleman, who is a former first-round pick and has simply battled injuries throughout his career. In 2016 with the Cleveland Browns, he played in 10 games posting 413 yards and three touchdowns. His play fell significantly in 2017 when he broke his hand and missed the remainder of the season after nine games.

There is no question that Corey contains excellent speed, and if he can remain healthy, I believe he will lock down the number four spot on the roster. However, history indicates otherwise, and the Giants should be prepared to have supplemental options available.

New York Giants: Nate Solder Tweets Ominous Warning Of “No Football In 2020”

New York Giants, Nate Solder

Just about everyone, from the fans to the players, want the NFL to come back in 2020 and for the season to not be delayed or cancelled because of COVID-19. At least, that’s been the narrative so far. The league and the player’s association have been working together so far to come to an agreement on the terms of the season, but according to New York Giants tackle Nate Solder, the season isn’t a guarantee yet.

Solder’s words carry more weight than that of the average player because he’s the current NFLPA representative on the Giants. And according to him, the NFL still has to do its part to keep the players healthy.

He tweeted a warning about the matter, that’s short and gets right to the point. It’s not known what Solder’s actual dispute with the NFL is right now, but it is known that the NFLPA and the league are in negotiations for the coming season.

There won’t be football without the players, and therefore, the season won’t happen unless the league can get the player’s association to agree to terms. The main issues have to do with the COVID-19 pandemic and how the league will handle health and safety issues related to this.

It already looks increasingly unlikely that the preseason will even happen, with training camp set to start late July and the preseason having been cut to two games per team.  These concessions may not be enough as the NFLPA wants to do away with the preseason altogether for 2020.

And with the way things are going so far this year, it wouldn’t be all that surprising if Solder’s warning came true and the season ended up called off altogether.

New York Giants: Why Evan Engram Will Be A Top Tight End This Season

The New York Giants‘ offense has a respectable group of playmakers for Daniel Jones to share the football with throughout his second season. In 2020, the Giants have a new coaching staff. Joe Judge was brought in to replace Pat Shurmur after two disappointing seasons.

On the offensive side of the ball, Judge made a splash hire. After spending ten years as the head coach of one of the Giants’ biggest rivals, Jason Garrett left the Dallas Cowboys and joined Joe Judge’s staff in New York. Garrett will serve as the Giants’ offensive coordinator.

The Giants’ previous two offensive coordinators were the team’s head coaches. Now, the offensive coordinator will run the offense and call plays while the head coach oversees the entirety of the team.

A signature aspect of Jason Garrett’s offensive scheme is the heavy usage of the tight end position. Jason Witten had a Hall of Fame-caliber career during his time with Garrett and the Cowboys. One of the Giants’ most talented playmakers is their tight end, Evan Engram. Pairing him with Jason Garrett could lead to a huge season from the fourth-year tight end.

Why Evan Engram Will Break Out In 2020

The biggest challenge for Evan Engram throughout his three-year NFL career so far has been staying healthy. Evan has already missed 14 games in three years. But by the looks of it, Evan Engram is healthy and will be ready to go for the 2020 NFL season:

Keeping Evan Engram healthy and on the field will be crucial to the offense’s success in 2020. Engram is usually a top target in the team’s offensive scheme, but his role might even increase with the acquisition of Jason Garrett.

Between the ages of 25 and 31, Jason Witten was targeted in the Cowboys offense an average of 127 times a year–and that was despite their having a legitimate No. 1 receiver and a top rushing attack. – Gene Clemons of Giants County

In 2019, Evan Engram was tied for the second-most targets per game by tight ends in the NFL with 8.5. Engram only played in 8 games though, and a healthy season with a high target volume could lead to a breakout performance. In those first five games, Evan was averaging 9.6 targets per game, 74.6 yards per game, and totaled 2 touchdown receptions.

In his rookie 2017 season, Evan Engram was healthy and played in 15 games. That season, he was the Giants’ primary receiving option and received a whopping 115 targets. Evan caught 64 of those targets, totaling 722 yards and 6 touchdowns. Hopefully, the Giants can replicate that success in 2020.

New York Giants: Darnay Holmes can be more than just a slot corner

New York Giants, Darnay Holmes

When the New York Giants initially drafted Darnay Holmes out of UCLA, most assumed he would fill the nickel corner position at the NFL level. Having never played an interior corner spot, Holmes experienced his first reps during the Senior Bowl, where he dominated opposing pass-catchers.

However, without any live game action in the slot, it is impossible to know what he’s capable of at the NFL level. There is no question his frame fits the mold for the position at 5-foot-10 and 195 pounds.

The expectation is that the Giants will inject him into a competition battle with Grant Haley, Julian Love, and potentially Corey Ballentine. Holmes has fantastic physical traits and athleticism, making him an excellent option to fill a position that has been problematic for the past few years.

But Holmes is more than capable of playing on the outside, and as we await the results of DeAndre Baker’s case, which has since become more complicated, Holmes should be training for both spots.

His versatility and toughness define the former UCLA player. In 2018, he posted respectable numbers. Over 12 games, he logged 36 solo tackles, 48 total, 1.0 tackles for a loss, three interceptions, eight passes defended, and two forced fumbles.

Considered to be one of college football’s rising stars, Holmes had a tough 2019, as he suffered a high ankle sprain. However, being a team captain and leader, Holmes returned far too early and played on the injury despite medical advice. He ended up playing in 10 games, logging 23 solo tackles, 33 total, two interceptions, six passes defended, and zero forced fumbles. The injury clearly affected his production, but with that issue alleviated, the expectation is that he can return to form in 2020.

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What makes Darnay Holmes so versatile for the New York Giants?

The Giants have plenty of players in their secondary, the issue is none of them are proven aside from James Bradberry. If Baker and his legal issues are not solved within the next few weeks, Holmes could be asked to compete at both the slot and outside corner positions. He has the experience and tenacity to succeed at both.

NFL analysts projected him as a nickel corner in the NFL, as he is a bit short and light to match up against bigger receivers on the outside. While I do think he will end up at that position, allowing him to compete on the outside is beneficial for the entire team. His exceptional intelligence, character, and work ethic make him a great candidate to land a starting job in his rookie year.

New York Giants: 2 offensive players who are primed for improvement in 2020

New York Giants, Darius Slayton

The New York Giants are heading into the 2020 season with plenty of questions on the roster. Both sides of the ball are undergoing major changes, but the offense is a bit more situated and the defense.

With a reliable receiving corps consisting of Golden Tate, Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, and Corey Coleman, quarterback Daniel Jones has plenty of weapons to utilize. That’s not even factoring Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram. The offensive line is the biggest concern, as they lacked chemistry and efficiency in 2019.

That reality was a driving force behind the drafting of Andrew Thomas with the fourth overall pick this year. The hope is that he can supplement a tackle position and help build continuity in the trenches.

However, the Giants need some of their younger players to make development leaps.

Here is a look at two New York Giants players who should experience improvement moving forward:

1.) Darius Slayton

Slayton was a wonder for the Giants in his rookie campaign. He posted 740 yards and eight touchdowns over 14 games, leading the team in both categories. While his 57.1% catch rate was a bit low, rookie struggles were anticipated and factored into my expectations. He played in just 66% of offensive snaps and missed two games to start the season.

Slayton’s emergence is a fantastic sign for the Giants who drafted him in the fifth round last year. At just 23 years old, he is not even in his prime yet and has so much potential left to discover.

The biggest sign of improvement was his route running development. From being primarily a straight line receiver with Auburn, he became much more than that in the NFL. Just a few months on an NFL team allowed him to refine and build upon his existing routes. He added a solid slant and corner route to his repertoire. There’s plenty left for him to develop, especially when it comes to timing with Daniel Jones.

New York Giants: Replacement Options For DeAndre Baker

New York Giants, Julian Love, DeAndre Baker, Julian Love

The New York Giants are once again in the news for the wrong reasons. Second-year cornerback DeAndre Baker has been dealing with quite a bit of legal trouble this offseason that has been made very public news. In May, Baker was accused of armed robbery. Since then, the little bits of news and updates on Baker’s legal situation have been mostly positive. Information was even brought to light that indicated Baker was innocent.

Those who accused Baker of these crimes eventually recanted their statements. But now, according to a report by Pat Leonard, a search warrant obtained exclusively by the NY Daily News seems to indicate that Baker had a payoff cover-up that further implicates him in the crime.

After the warrant by the NY Daily News was made public, reports stated that the Giants are expected to cut DeAndre Baker. Without DeAndre Baker on the Giants’ roster, there is a major hole at the Giants’ second outside cornerback position. Who could fill that role for the Giants on short notice in 2020?

Logan Ryan

Logan Ryan is a veteran slot cornerback who had a statistically incredible 2019 season as a member of the Tennessee Titans. As a cornerback, Ryan totaled an insane 113 combined tackles last season. Ryan was also a tremendous playmaker, forcing a career-high 4 fumbles, racking up another career-high 14 passes defended while also adding 4 interceptions.

Ryan has been in the NFL for seven seasons. He spent his first four years in New England before signing with the Tennessee Titans in 2017. Over the years, Logan Ryan has been one of the most consistent nickel cornerbacks in the NFL, but he is also capable of playing on the outside.

According to Pro Football Focus, “Ryan is by no means an elite slot corner — in fact, he surrendered over 1,000 yards in coverage in 2019 and was constantly picked on.” The former Titans corner might be past his prime, but PFF concedes he is “still an average player at the position — he was the 48th most valuable corner in 2019.”

Acquiring Logan Ryan’s talents would not come cheap, though. The cornerback reportedly “is not willing to accept less than $10 million annually.” The Giants might not have the cap space available to comfortably sign Ryan at the moment, however, if the team does decide to cut DeAndre Baker, Logan Ryan’s contract will become much more affordable.

Sam Beal

The Giants had high hopes when they selected Sam Beal in the third round of the 2018 Supplemental Draft. So far, he has not exactly lived up to expectations. Injuries held Beal back in his first two seasons, but he was not overly impressive when he found the field.

Sam Beal played in 6 games and started 3 games in 2019. In those games, Beal allowed a 76.2% completion percentage when targeted. He allowed opposing receivers to gain 171 yards and 1 touchdown. Opposing quarterbacks recorded a passer rating of 115.4 against Sam Beal. If Beal is going to replace DeAndre Baker, the Giants will need him to improve his performance significantly.

Julian Love

Julian Love started five games at safety for the Giants in 2019. He was expected to continue in a rotational safety role in 2020, but expectations have been subverted by DeAndre Baker’s incident. This makes Julian Love a potential option at outside cornerback.

Julian Love played safety as a rookie in the NFL, but he played cornerback in college. At that position, Love recorded 32 pass breakups and 4 interceptions over his last two years at Notre Dame.

“Pure and simple, Love is a cover guy who possesses the feet, hips, instincts and competitiveness you want in a corner.” – NFL.com analyst Lance Zierelein

New York Giants: DeAndre Baker stuck in the middle of two different stories

New York Giants, DeAndre Baker

Innocent until proven guilty, right? Well, usually paying off victims goes against every rule in the book, and New York Giants’ corner DeAndre Baker could be facing extraordinary consequences for his actions.

Just one day after the Florida courthouse that was helping press charges against him enabled him to travel to New York for training camp, a report entered the fold that indicated he had paid off victims.

The New York Giants should stay away from DeAndre Baker for the time being

According to Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News, Baker did just that with Seahawks corner Quinton Dunbar. On May 14, both players were arrested on armed robbery charges.

However, after witnesses initially blamed Baker and Dunbar for the situation, they rescinded their comments and completely took a 180 on the matter. Leonard and the Daily News obtained a search warrant as a public record from the Broward County Clerk of Courts. The evidence they found is alarming and includes video footage and direct messages of Dominic Johnson, a witness, seeing the payoffs from Baker and Dunbar.

Johnson reportedly curated numerous messages on Instagram that indicates the payoff. He has known both Baker and Dunbar since they were children. All four victims have now produced sworn statements indicating they were paid off to take back their initial testimonies. The report states that the players offered $55K to the witnesses to reactant their statements.

“Johnson is telling Baker to come to Dunbar Lawyer’s office,” Moretti writes. “Baker replied, ‘Yo I’m in the city now getting cash how much to bring ?? I’m tryna get there too u ASAP.'”

Michael Greico, Baker’s lawyer on the situation, in which he claimed Leonard’s research false:

“Law enforcement, both local and federal, was advised from day one and beyond that the alleged ‘victims’ in this case were actively extorting Baker and Dunbar,” he told the Seattle Times. “These men fabricated a robbery story after waiting an hour to call police and then immediately began contacting the players demanding money.

“My office obtained accurate and truthful affidavits consistent with the independent witness and my client’s account. These ‘victims’ are seasoned career criminals who have been arrested and/or convicted of crimes ranging from conspiracy to commit murder, to human trafficking, to filing a false police report. Mr. Dunbar took and passed a polygraph confirming that he did not participate or witness any robbery.”

As new information begins to bubble to the surface, it is impossible to know what will happen next. Clearly, this case is far from over and the new evidence is clear. The New York Giants want nothing to do with Baker until he figures out his legal issues, and that doesn’t seem to be coming to a close anytime soon.

New York Giants: The 3 most important defenders for 2020 and beyond

New York Giants, James Bradberry, Dexter Lawrence, Xavier McKinney

The New York Giants no longer have room for failure, as the past three years have been disappointing and resulted in a revolving door of head coaches. Since hiring Joe Judge, the team seems to be on a better path, but only the regular season will give us legitimate answers.

This off-season has already been different, as the NFL draft seemed influenced by Judge. He also utilized the rare free agent tender to retain Markus Golden potentially. These small but robust moves can be the difference between success and failure in specific units.

However, the defense still requires plenty of attention and refinement. Judge will be more of a walk around head coach monitoring every unit, leaving his coordinators to do their jobs. New defensive coordinator Patrick Graham will have a lot on his plate in year one. Installing a new defense with many different sets and tendencies can be problematic.

Nonetheless, the defense has several talented players that will hopefully develop an identity moving forward.

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Let’s take a look at the three most important New York Giants defenders:

1.) Dexter Lawrence

Lawrence earns the number one spot simply based on his youth and potential. During his rookie season, the former Clemson stand-out posted 38 combined tackles, nine quarterback hits, and 2.5 sacks over 16 games. His numbers were more efficient than Leonard Williams’, who is currently asking for $18-20 million per season.

Considering Dexter is still on his rookie contract, he represents additional value in the monetary category. His production and statistical efficiency should see an improvement with one year of experience under his belt. He is a building block and staple on defense and will be utilized as such for the foreseeable future.

Several weeks ago, an anonymous general manager and AFC scout told Matt Lombardo of NJ.com that Dexter ranks atop the players on the Giants’ defense.

“It has to be Dexter Lawrence or James Bradberry at this point. Lawrence is a legitimate run-stuffer up the middle, and Bradberry is a dominant cornerback with good size and ball-skills,” the GM said.

“I believe it will eventually be Andrew Thomas, but I can’t give him that title just yet. My choice is Dexter Lawrence. He’s just such a factor in the running game and now has been showing emerging pass-rush ability,” he said.

New York Giants’ DeAndre Baker takes step closer to innocence, will be allowed to attend training camp

New York Giants, DeAndre Baker

With football at a standstill until training camp begins in a few weeks, the New York Giants are merely waiting for their players’ legal issues to be ironed out.

DeAndre Baker was accused of armed robbery and has since taken significant steps toward innocence. The initial witnesses that claimed his involvement have since rescinded their comments. According to Baker’s lawyer, they have written affidavits indicating he wasn’t involved.

Baker was reportedly playing Madden in a separate room when the incident occurred, and the statements exonerate Baker from any involvement. However, the legal system is still being drawn out, and the Giants are awaiting clearance for him to return to normal activities.

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On Friday afternoon, though, Quinton Dunbar of the Seattle Seahawks, the second player involved in the incident, asked the Florida court for permission to travel outside the state so he can attend training camp. The court allowed this request unanimously, which gives Baker the same rights.

While the Giants did state that Baker should stay away until he figures out his legal issues, his availability for training camp could be allowed. There is no comment from the team at this time on the matter.

The New York Giants were expecting a lot out of DeAndre Baker in 2020:

General manager Dave Gettleman traded up in 2019 NFL draft a secure Baker, the number one corner on the board out of Georgia. Despite the draft capital they spent to acquire him, the Giants utilized him poorly in a zone scheme. Baker is best playing man coverage in a more physical way.

Over 16 games in his rookie season, Baker posted 61 combined tackles, eight passes defended, a 61.4 completion rate against, and six touchdowns. Overall, he was abysmal in most categories but saw a slight improvement as the season progressed. With new defensive coordinator, Patrick Graham, instituting a more man coverage heavy scheme, the expectation is that Baker will improve with it.

New York Giants: Andrew Thomas developing a relationship with the very man he might be replacing

New York Giants, Nate Solder

The New York Giants drafted Andrew Thomas with the fourth overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft. Their expectation was that he would develop into a starting tackle, preferably on the left side. Replacing Nate Solder became essential after he allowed 11 sacks and put rookie quarterback Daniel Jones in peril far too often.

Thomas is a mean player who stands his ground and can move well in the run game. While he undoubtedly has weaknesses to refine, he has the highest floor of any tackle prospect coming out of the 2020 draft class. He has Pro Bowl potential and is a year one starter given his frame and fundamental approach to the game.

Despite his advantages, new head coach Joe Judge has made it apparent that every player will be fighting for their position, even ones who are expected to start. Nobody is guaranteed a spot on the team, and Thomas has plenty of competition to conquer. He inevitably hast to dethrone Solder at left tackle or solidify the right tackle spot over Cameron Fleming and Nick Gates.

However, Thomas is developing a relationship with the very man he might displace after the 2020 season. The expectation is that the Giants will release Solder from his four-year, $62 million deal. After this upcoming season, he will count just $6.5 million in dead-cap, but if retained will count $20.5 million. Releasing him seems like the best move, considering the monetary allocations and repercussions.

That hasn’t stopped Thomas and Solder from developing a relationship and connecting on one significant thing.

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Andrew Thomas spoke on the Giants Huddle podcast, stating:

“For the rookies, the big thing for us is knowing everybody on the team, knowing the staff,” Thomas said. “They test us all the time because they want us to know. The NFL is a people’s league, and we have to know our teammates and the people that we’ll see in the building every day. So, we’re trying to do that. I’ve also been building a relationship with [veteran offensive tackle] Nate Solder actually. He reached out to me. Obviously, he’s a man of faith, so that’s something that’s big for me, just him inviting me to be part of bible studies, something that I want to do and stuff like that. Just trying to get to know the guys.”

The fact that Nate reached out to Thomas is a positive sign, as healthy competition can be great for every party. With the competitiveness in the NFL, sometimes bad blood can be spilled, but this seems to be a different circumstance.

Thomas can undoubtedly learn from the veteran tackle who has struggled in his personal life the past few years. His son has dealt with cancer, surely distracting him from his responsibilities in the NFL, justifiably.

The fact that he is willing to reach out and help Thomas connect with the team is a positive sign. That’s a reason the Giants still have faith in the former New England tackle.

Hopefully, Joe Judge and his coaching staff can find a way to incorporate both players on offense, whether it be Solder at right tackle and Thomas at left or vice-versa. Continuity on the offensive line is a necessity moving forward.