New York Giants seem destined to upgrade EDGE position in free agency

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The NFL’s legal tampering period officially began today. The New York Giants have been quiet so far, staying patient as they still look to free up cap space. The Giants are making a push to lower Leonard Williams’s cap hit by the start of the new league year on Wednesday through a long-term extension.

For now, the Giants are staying patient on free agents. They re-signed Austin Johnson, met with Kenny Golladay, and showed interest in a few free agents, but have not made any new additions to the roster yet. It seems like the Giants were close to signing an edge rusher, though. The Giants have been rumored to be heavily interested in adding pass-rushing help off the edge this offseason. After swinging for the fences and striking out on edge rusher Leonard Floyd, it seems like the Giants are destined to upgrade the edge position during the 2021 free agency period.

Who is available?

This morning, Jordan Raanan of ESPN tweeted out a list of free agents that the Giants were expected to be interested in. There were four main edge rusher targets that he reported New York was interested in. Two of those targets are now off the board. Matt Judon was one of them, he landed with the New England Patriots today. Leonard Floyd was the other, a player that the Giants reportedly made “a push” to sign before he ultimately landed back in Los Angeles with the Rams.

The final two edge rushers on Jordan Raanan’s list are Haason Reddick and Bud Dupree. Reddick is an interesting name to keep an eye on. The Giants faced the Cardinals this past season and were met with trouble when Haason Reddick racked up five sacks in Arizona’s victory. New York is fully aware of Reddick’s abilities and could be interested in making him their first splash signing of the 2021 offseason. Haason is coming off of a career-high 12.5 sack season and could be a perfect target for the Giants on a one-year “prove-it” deal.

Bud Dupree is another intriguing name linked to the New York Giants. Dupree is coming off of a season-ending ACL injury, making him a risky potential signing. However, Dupree is an impressive, versatile pass-rusher that has racked up 19.5 sacks in his past 27 career games. The Giants could look to sign Bud to a short-term contract and see if he can bounce back from a devastating injury.

The 2021 free agency class is loaded with talented edge rushers. If the Giants are intent on adding help on the edge, they will be able to find good value in this year’s class. However, the players near the top of the market will not come cheap. Leonard Floyd’s deal averages at around $16 million while Matt Judon’s deal landed at around $14 million. These high price tags could be the reason New York has yet to make any signings. If the New York Giants are serious about adding talent in this year’s free agency period, they are going to need to free up some cap space as soon as possible.

The New York Giants could target one undervalued pass rusher in free agency

New York Giants, Hasson Reddick

The pass rush market is flush with the options this off-season, and with free agency starting on March 17, the New York Giants are still trying to clear a bit of salary space to work with.

On Saturday, it was reported that Nate Solder will restructure his contract, hopefully lowering his cap hit for the 2021 season significantly. This will give the Giants a bit more space to work with and also allow them to retain the OT, providing a solid option at right tackle moving forward.

However, the Giants still have plenty of holes they need to fill, and as they continue to restructure deals and make cuts, there are a few solid targets to explore. The pass rush market consists of players like Bud Dupree, Carl Lawson, Jadeveon Clowney, Matthew Judon, and Haason Reddick.

Most of these names will command solid contracts, but one player stands out to me and how the Giants have constructed their roster since Joe Judge took over as head coach.

A good fit for the New York Giants:

Haason Reddick, currently coming off his best season to date, is hitting the market looking for a new deal. Last season, he tallied  12.5 sacks, six forced fumbles, and 43 solo tackles. As a former first-round pick in 2017, he made the transition back to pass rusher after playing off-ball linebacker with the Cardinals the past few seasons. His primary strength has always been rushing the passer, and the Giants could lock him into a three-year deal with a low cap hit for 2021.

If they can sign him for a three-year deal paying him $30 million total, they can push a majority of the hit to next season, taking on a $5 million cap hit this year and $15 million next season with minimal dead money for 2023. This scenario makes a lot of sense, injecting a proven pass rusher into the team with significant upside.

Also, considering the fact the Giants don’t have much financial flexibility, he is a bargain with a market full of options, so he will likely have to settle for a more cost-efficient contract. This ultimately benefits the Giants, but expect free agency to move a bit slower than in recent years, based on teams still needing to clear money and get creative with the salary cap.

Big Blue still has Lorenzo Carter, Oshane Ximines, and Carter Coughlin as options, but considering two of them missed a majority of the 2020 season, bringing in a more productive option to spur competition is a beneficial move. Reddick would fit Patrick Graham’s scheme well as a multiple player who brings versatility. In case of injury, he can move back to regular linebacker and also rush the passer adequately at the OLB position.

New York Giants: One lowkey pass rusher who could fit perfectly in Patrick Graham’s scheme

New York Giants, Hasson Reddick

The New York Giants are preparing to upgrade their offense to help third-year quarterback Daniel Jones finally reach his potential, and that will likely mean resource allocation toward the wide receiver position. Whether it be in free agency or the 2021 NFL draft, we can expect the offense to take a step forward and 2021. However, there are still issues littered across the roster, and pass rusher remains one of them.

With Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines missing extensive time with injury in 2020, the Giants were forced to utilize a blend of inadequate pass rushers at outside linebacker. They featured Carter Coughlin, a seventh-round pick from last year, and Jabaal Sheard, a practice squad player with a little bit of gas left in the tank. Overall, the Giants were unable to produce consistent pressure from the OLB position, so upgrading it this off-season is a necessity.

There are a few fantastic options in free agency they can look to acquire, including Leonard Floyd from the Los Angeles Rams or even Yannick Ngakoue from the Baltimore Ravens.

There is one low-key option the Giants could target, and he might be a bit cheaper than the big names at the top of the market.

PFF believes the New York Giants should take a shot at landing Haason Reddick in FA:

NEW YORK GIANTS: EDGE HAASON REDDICK

No New York Giants edge defender notched more than 20 total pressures this season. Nine edge rushers combined to generate just 81 total pressures, which is simply not enough in today’s NFL.

Haason Reddick’s career got off to a slow start, as the team decided to move him off the ball and away from what he was so good at in college — rushing the passer. Reddick had 56 total pressures this season on 412 pass-rushing snaps, 26 of which came in the last month of the season. At the minimum, he would make for a formidable situational rusher to add to a defense that is stout against the run.

If Reddick’s name seems familiar, it’s probably because he had a standout performance against the Giants, setting a franchise record for the Arizona Cardinals with 5.0 sacks. He also recorded five solo tackles and two tackles for a loss in the contest. He finished the 2020 season with 12.5 sacks, 63 combined tackles, 16 QB hits, and 15 tackles for a loss. He also earned a career-low 6.0% missed tackle right. By all indications, Reddick made a successful move to outside linebacker, and the Giants should heavily be considering him in free agency.

Considering defensive coordinator Patrick Graham utilizes a 3-4 scheme, for the most part, he would fit in like a glove. Per Spotrac, Reddick’s market value is at $3.37 million, which would be an absolute steal for the 27-year-old pass rusher.

Having veterans on the defense like Logan Ryan, who can help recruit, should benefit the Giants exponentially in free agency. They don’t have an exorbitant amount of money to spend, but they do have $4.6 million opening up from Kyler Fackrell’s one year deal. They could re-allocate toward a player like Haason, who had a fantastic campaign this past year and could offer some much-needed value at a position of weakness.

The New York Giants should consider EDGE Haason Reddick in free agency

New York Giants, Hasson Reddick

The New York Giants‘ defense exceeded all expectations this season. New York saw incredible performances out of multiple newly-signed free agents. Cornerback James Bradberry had an elite season, totaling 18 passes defended and linebacker Blake Martinez was phenomenal, racking up 151 combined tackles.

But the Giants’ defense was not perfect and did have a glaring weakness. The Giants’ edge rushers struggled to create consistent pressure on the quarterback and were often injured. New York could be in the market for an edge rusher this offseason, and there is a familiar name they could consider.

In Week 14, the Giants’ offensive line was terrorized by one edge rusher on the Arizona Cardinals. Haason Reddick dominated the Giants and racked up five sacks. Now, with Reddick set to become a free agent in March, he could be a name to keep in eye on as the Giants look to improve their pass-rush.

Haason Reddick stats and highlights

The Arizona Cardinals’ defense benefited from the breakout season of Haason Reddick in 2020. Reddick posted a career-high 12.5 sacks this season, breaking his previous career-high of 4 sacks in 2018. With this being Reddick’s firs time posting double-digit sacks in his career, some might be concerned that 2020 was just a fluke. But regardless, he will get paid as he has proven to be a solid pass-rusher in the NFL.

Pro Football Focus recently suggested that the New York Giants could pursue Haason Reddick in free agency this offseason. PFF pointed out that no Giants edge rusher recorded 20 or more pressures in 2020, but Haason Reddick had 56 total pressures this season on 412 pass-rushing snaps, 26 of which came in the last month of the season.

The reason for Reddick’s slow start to his career was a position change. In college, Haason played edge rusher. Once he made it to the NFL, though, the Cardinals decided to convert him to an off ball linebacker. This conversion was only mildly successful, though, and the Cardinals decided this season that it was best to move him back to his original position.

After switching back to the edge, Reddick had a slow start to the season, but really picked it up towards the end of the year. Haason totaled 7.5 sacks and 13 pressures from Weeks 14 to 17. He seemed to hit a real groove before season’s end and could be looking at an even larger breakout in 2021, his second season playing edge rusher in the NFL.

The New York Giants schemed together many pressures and sacks in 2020, but the roster could greatly benefit from having a consistent pass-rushing presence off the edge. The Giants should consider taking a chance on Haason Reddick if the price is right in free agency this offseason.