New York Giants: Could Ifeadi Odenigbo be a surprise cut?

ifeadi odenigbo, New York Giants

The New York Giants have wrapped up their preseason after their loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday. Now, with the preseason in the rear-view, NFL teams are focused on finalizing their rosters. Teams need to trim their rosters down to 53-men by 4 pm tomorrow. As the New York Giants make their final cuts, could pass-rusher Ifeadi Odenigbo be one of the team’s surprise cuts?

Could Ifeadi Odenigbo be cut?

The Giants signed Ifeadi Odenigbo this offseason to a one-year $2.5 million contract. His contract, though, only came with a $1 million dead cap hit. So if the Giants decide to cut or trade Odenigbo tomorrow, they can free $1.5 million in salary-cap space.

The signing of Ifeadi Odenigbo was once thought to be a signing of great value. In 32 career games (15 starts), Ifeadi has registered 10.5 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, 28 quarterback hits, one safety, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, and one defensive touchdown to go with his 59 tackles (34 solo).

Despite this, Odenigbo could be cut tomorrow. The Giants have a crowded group of outside linebackers on their roster, some of which have had impressive summers. Ifeadi Odenigbo, however, has not stood out as much as most hoped he would.

In the Giants’ first unofficial depth chart of the year, Odenigbo was listed third string, behind Trent Harris and Lorenzo Carter. Seeing an established player like Odenigbo so far down the depth chart was surprising, but might foreshadow an early exit from New Jersey.

Trent Harris has had an excellent summer, standing out in training camp and the preseason. The Giants need to add more depth at other positions of greater need. Odenigbo has failed to make a major impact this summer. Because of this, the Giants could cut Ifeadi Odenigbo and reinvest that money elsewhere.

New York Giants: Versatile pass-rusher Ifeadi Odegnibo will give the defense a boost in 2021

ifeadi odenigbo, New York Giants

The New York Giants defense was a top-ten unit in the NFL last season. However, the defense was not perfect and the Giants made sure to tidy up some weak spots this offseason. New York fixed its secondary cornerback problem by signing Adoree’ Jackson in free agency. But the Giants also had a lack of depth and talent at edge rusher, another position they addressed this offseason.

The Giants drafted edge rusher Azeez Ojulari out of Georgia in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Fans are looking at this move as the one that will fix the Giants’ pass-rushing problems. Ojulari does have the potential to have a major impact on this defense as early as his rookie season. But another under-the-radar move that the Giants made in free agency could also have a significant impact: the signing of Ifeadi Odenigbo.

Ifeadi Odenigbo stats and highlights

The New York Giants made a few big splashes in free agency, primarily on the offensive side of the ball. Many of their signings were overshadowed by the monumental acquisitions they made like Kenny Golladay, Kyle Rudolph, and Adoree’ Jackson. One of the signings that flew under the radar was that of edge rusher Ifeadi Odenigbo.

To call Ifeadi an edge rusher seems to be a bit constricting and partially inaccurate. Using a more broad, general term like pass-rusher makes more sense for the former Minnesota Viking. Ifeadi Odenigbo is a pass-rusher with the ability to play on the interior and on the edge. In Minnesota, he frequently played on the edge as a 5-tech in the Vikings’ 4-3 defense. But he has the size and ability to move inside as well and could potentially play some 3-tech or 4i with the Giants.

Odenigbo is expected to kick outside to the edge with the Giants this year, playing outside linebacker. That is something that Ifeadi has not done in a while, but as he told us in an exclusive interview on Fireside Giants, he is really excited to get back in a two-point stance.

In 32 career games (15 starts), Ifeadi has registered 10.5 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, 28 quarterback hits, one safety, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and one defensive touchdown to go with his 59 tackles (34 solo). Odenigbo’s best season came in 2018 when he played in a reserve role for the Vikings in all 16 games. Odenigbo picked up seven sacks that year, along with 13 quarterback hits, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries (Giants.com).

According to Pro Football Focus, the Giants’ top four pressure producers in 2020 all played on the interior, which is highly unusual. Odenigbo will fit right into the scheme, helping generate pressure as an interior pass-rusher. But he will also improve one of the team’s weaknesses by contributing as an edge rusher. This versatility and solid pass-rushing ability that Ifeadi Odenigbo brings will give the Giants’ defense a nice boost in 2021.

One New York Giants pass rusher who could have a significant impact in 2021

ifeadi odenigbo, New York Giants

The New York Giants are heading into the 2021 season with a bolstered outside linebacker unit. Last year, both Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines suffered season-ending injuries, which forced defensive coordinator Pacha Graham to utilize underdeveloped and aged talent. They rolled with Carter Coughlin and Jabaal Sheard as their primary pass rushers for the majority of the second half of the season, but the 2021 campaign should offer them a bit more security.

General manager Dave Gettleman made it a priority to draft a pass rusher, which is where Georgia stand out Azeez Ojulari comes into play. Ojulari should have an immediate impact as a second-round pick, ranking first in sacks in the SEC with 9.5 and forcing four fumbles last season. Ojulari is only 20 years old, so he still has plenty of time to develop and refine his game, but he already has a few quality pass rush moves he can use at the NFL level.

However, there is one pass rusher the Giants acquired that could end up being a significant contributor, and his name is Ifeadi Odenigbo.

The former Minnesota Viking spoke with Empire Sports Media a few weeks ago, indicating that he is excited to join the Giants and offers value at multiple positions, including outside linebacker, 5-tech, and even interior at 3-tech.

Last season, Odenigbo tallied 35 tackles, 15 QB hits, and 3.5 sacks, representing Minnesota’s top pass rusher on a poor unit. He tallied 27 quarterback hurries, 11 QB hits and regularly made an impact on the defensive front. He is a solid tackler, missing only 6.7% in 2020.

As more of a power washer, Odenigbo can be utilized to overwhelm smaller offensive lineman on the outside or interior but has been working to increase his agility and speed off the edge. The Giants have had their eyes on Odenigbo for quite some time at Northwestern, and they finally managed to snag him on a relatively cost-efficient deal.

He signed a one-year, $2.5 million deal with the Giants — another one-year, stop-gap deal to help replace and even offer more than Kyler Fackrell at OLB.

I do believe that he is being undervalued, considering his versatility and past success. Back in 2018, Ifeadi tallied 7.0 sacks and a fumble recovery for a touchdown. He is an adequate pass rusher, and at 27 years old, he’s just entering the prime of his game. This could end up being a home run move for the Giants, who lacked significant depth at OLB on the defensive line last year.

One positive sign for the new Giant is the fact that he’s been training with Leonard Williams this off-season, develop chemistry, and learning his new system from one of the better players on the defense.

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: New York Giants’ Ifeadi Odenigbo says ‘we’re doing something special here’

The New York Giants made a key addition on the defensive side of the ball this free agency period. New York signed Ifeadi Odenigbo, formerly of the Minnesota Vikings, to a one-year $2.5 million contract. Odenigbo is a four-year NFL veteran that had his breakout season in 2019, totaling 7 sacks that season.

Empire Sports Media had the great privilege of speaking to Ifeadi in an exclusive interview on Fireside Giants. Co-hosts Alex Wilson and Anthony Rivardo enjoyed interviewing Ifeadi Odenigbo and asking him a plethora of questions regarding his football career and his life off-the-field. You can watch the video version of the interview on the Fireside Giants YouTube Channel here.

Q: “Are you excited to be with the New York Giants and how has this transition been for you?”

It’s been pretty unique just because it’s still COVID-near. So like right now we’re trying to figure out OTA’s, are we going, are we not going? But when I got here to sign my contract about a month ago I got to meet the coaching staff, I got to meet the GM, which was pretty exciting. They seemed pretty excited. They know that they have a plan for me. I’m just excited that an organization wants me and I’m gonna do my best for them.

Q: “Coach Joe Judge, what was your first impression of him? He’s a pretty intense guy.”

Yeah, yeah, yeah, dude, I could sense that intensity from a mile away. I’m like, ‘Alright, it’s all business baby.’ That’s how it was with Coach Zimmer, so this is nothing ne to me just from a standpoint of getting from college to the NFL, this is a business, you’re here to win games. There’s a lot, too much is given, much is expected, so I understand this organization and that’s no problem to me.

Q: “Did you get that feeling that the Giants are ready to win? That Joe Judge has that winning mentality? You were coming to a place to be with a team that has a chance to be great. Do you see that with the Giants?”

Absolutely. I’ve actually had the chance this year to workout with Leonard Williams. Leonard was here at House of Athletes for a couple of weeks, I think he’s back in California, but I think he’s going to come back again. Right now I’m working out with Dexter Lawrence and I’ve gotten to know him pretty well, so we’re building chemistry. I actually ran into Nate Solder today. I’m slowly talking to more and more Giants, just getting the vibe and understanding what’s expected of me when I get there.

Q: “Karl told us you have a ‘samurai’s dedication’ towards training and everything in your life. What is that like?”

I came to Miami not really knowing anyone. But I came to Miami because I do my research. This year I was like, ‘Alright, I have a little more money, I have been in the NFL, I can start spending more,’ so I was doing my due diligence and the resources in Miami are pretty good, so I was like, ‘yeah let me come down here, try it here, if I don’t like it here, I’ll go somewhere else.’ I was in Chicago last year, the year before I was in Ohio so I’ve kind of been all over the place. What’s cool about going to all these different places is just gaining a different type of perspective, a different type of working out, and these are all things I can add to my arsenal to help stay in shape. So you work with one coach for a couple months, you understand what he wants from you. You take what’s useful, you get rid of what wasn’t useful, then you move on to the next coach and it’s all about applying it, just getting better every day.

Q: “Are you excited to move to New York now?”

Heck yes, man! It’s a big market! If you can win in New York, that’s the best place to be at! Obviously the New York media is one of the most brutal, they keep it real. So ‘don’t take it personal,’ but I’m excited for the big stage, I feel like I was born for this, and I’m ready to give New York everything I have.

Q: “You’re now a member of the New York Giants. What was that one motivating factor that made you say, ‘New York is the place for me to be.'”

Just from a standpoint, so like my agent and I, when I was a free agent, I had a bunch of teams that were all making offers but the Giants seemed pretty aggressive. I think you want the feeling to be mutual. What’s kind of cool about this is the fact that when you hit free agency it’s kind of like high school all over again. You actually have the choice to choose instead of being draft. Like, ‘Ope! They drafted me, I have no say in this! Better make the best of the situation!’ So seeing New York have that much interest in me and saying like, ‘Hey we have a plan for you, we think you fit our scheme. We’re doing something special here.’ I was kind of sold on that. And I was born in New Jersey, I lived here for two years. So coming back, I’m already kind of familiar with the area because I have some family that lives here. I was like, ‘Alright, you can’t write a better story than this.’ I’m excited with what Coach Judge has to offer. I’ve heard that it’s a pretty intense organization but I’m an intense guy so I guess that’s harmony right there.

Q: “New team, new scheme. In Minnesota, they kind of lined you up all over the defensive line. A lot of the time you lined up over the guard, over the tackle, outside the tackle on the edge, sometimes even over the center. So, with the Giants, have you spoken to them? Where do you see yourself lining up primarily and where are you most comfortable?

So I think we’ll find out more at OTA’s. Virtual voluntary workouts start this Monday so I’ll get more of an idea. But once we start having these meetings, once they get to see me in person and see me in-depth they’ll have an idea. I’m assuming that they’re gonna try me all over because I’m kind of like the lunch-pail guy. Put me at 3-Tech, put me over the nose, put me at 5-Tech, put me against a tight end. I’ll find a way to win. When I was in Minnesota I was a utility guy. I’m here to compliment Leonard and Dexter. Those are my D-tackles, those are the monsters. I’m happy to be a part of the Giants. But most importantly I’m a team-first guy and when you’re a team-first guy, at the end of the day when everyone starts to do you part you naturally start making plays. One thing I’ve learned about defensive line, it’s complimentary. When Dexter, when Leonard’s making plays, I’ll start making plays. When I start making plays, they’re making plays. We all need each other.

Q: “When you line up outside of the tackle, throughout most of your career, you’ve had your hand in the dirt. Now the Giants run this 3-4 defense where they have their outside linebackers rushing off of the edge. So you might be playing more in a two-point stance, I would assume. How comfortable are you with that?”

So obviously that’s something new. But that’s something I’ve kind of dreamed of. Kind of what Karl was saying. In high school I was getting recruited from the majority of schools as an outside linebacker. But now, I guess it’s never too late to be an outside linebacker. So I guess ten years later my dream finally comes true. So right now during this training in Miami I’ve been doing a lot out of a two-point stance, a lot of dropping, a lot of rushing. What’s cool about being in a two-point stance is that my d-tackle is in a 4i. So in Minnesota I’d be in a tight-five and my d-tackle would be a 3-Tech. But now, when your d-tackle is in a 4i, meaning that he is lined up on the inside shoulder of the offensive tackle, the tackle has to be honest. A lot of the time when a tackle is lined up against a 3-Tech the tackle doesn’t account for him and he can kind of cheat the set. But he has to play it honest now because if he tries to jump the defensive end or outside linebacker he leaves a huge gap for the defensive tackle to make plays and that leaves a lot of stress on the guard.

Q: “At one point, you were a practice squad player. Now you’ve risen through the ranks, got a nice contract with the Giants and are expected to be a pretty big part of this defense. How has it been rising through the ranks throughout your career and what kind of chip does that put on your shoulder?”

Hey, humble beginnings, man! I remember being a practice squad player and being like, ‘Man, I really don’t like my role.’ That was the year that the Minneapolis Miracle happened so it was cool being part of that and seeing that but I was like, ‘Man, I really wanna be on this field.’ So unfortunately the next year I wasn’t able to make the active roster, so I went out to Cleveland for a little bit, then Arizona, then came back to Minnesota. But just being a journeyman for a little bit and seeing that side of football where your love of the game gets truly tested. I knew for a fact that I have what it takes, that I love this game and I don’t take any day for granted. You only have so many years to play football, so why waste it? I still kind of have that chip on my shoulder every day when I walk in. I was cut multiple times, people didn’t believe in me but I believed in myself and I know I have what it takes to make the next level and be a contributer on any team.

Q: “In 2019 you finally got that chance and your first career sack came against the New York Giants as you brought Daniel Jones down for a 12-yard loss. What do you think about Daniel Jones? That’s your quarterback, that’s the guy. How confident are you with him leading the team in year three?”

Hey, Danny Dimes, baby! I’m a believer man. That boy can run! I know everyone was giving him grief on Thursday Night Football when he fell, but they clocked him going 21-22 miles per hour. I think in this day and age, having a quarterback that has a great arm, I think he is number one in the league on throws 25 yards or over… Just knowing that a young quarterback like him is not afraid to take a shot, I think that’s huge. Obviously we got some big free agency weapons. I think the Giants are doing a great job surrounding him with talent. That’s my quarterback and I’m happy that he’s the Giants’ quarterback and I’m happy to be part of this team.

Q: “What has been your impression so far of the Joe Judge culture?”

It’s a business, man. He’s a Patriots disciple. So those practices are going to be intense, you gotta bring it every day. That’s nothing new to me. Just understanding that he’s hard to please, like the classic old-school father like, ‘Hey, dad, is this good enough?’ ‘No.’ It’s never good enough so just understanding that and doing what is expected.

New York Giants nab another low-risk, high reward player in Ifeadi Odenigbo, here’s what he brings

ifeadi odenigbo, New York Giants

The New York Giants have quietly added a few solid pieces to their roster, with the latest being a pass rusher from the Minnesota Vikings. Ifeadi Odenigbo is a 6-foot-3 and 258-pound defensive end, and at 26 years old, posted 3.5 sacks over 15 games with Minnesota last season. He’s earned 10.5 sacks combined over the last two years with 28 quarterback hits. He was one of the few bright spots from arguably the worst pass rush unit in the league last year in Minnesota.

The Giants landed Odenigbo on a one-year, $2.5 million deal, and he will compete for starting reps on the defensive front. His aggressive style as a pass rusher will help with a weak outside linebacking unit that struggled to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks last season. Coordinator Patrick Graham knows how to utilize defenders that fit specific molds. However, as a defensive end, they may try to move him into the interior to mitigate fatigue for guys like Dexter Lawrence.

Another low-risk, high reward deal for the Giants, as they also signed wide receiver John Ross on Tuesday afternoon. While these might not be flashy moves, they will benefit the Giants in 2021, and Odenigbo has a few hidden traits that Graham might be able to extract.