New York Giants among teams monitoring the cornerback market

New York Giants, Dave Gettleman

Cornerback looked like one of the stronger positions for the New York Giants coming into 2021, but that hasn’t turned out the case. While the secondary was one of the key parts of a 2020 defense that finished in the top ten, the Giants have struggled more at the position this year. There’s multiple reasons, including James Bradberry looking a lot worse in coverage and Adoree’ Jackson not making as much of a splash as expected.

The Giants were also dealt a blow more recently when rookie corner Rodarius Williams joined the list of injured players. Unlike some of the other players that are only out for a matter of weeks, Williams is out for the season after tearing his ACL. Despite being drafted in the sixth round, Williams had upended other players with more experience such as Darnay Holmes in the fight for the third corner spot.

For all of these reasons, the Giants are said to be among the teams looking for another cornerback. The news was reported by Jeremy Fowler, who listed the Giants with multiple other teams that are currently monitoring the market.

Several teams have actively monitored the cornerback market in recent months, including the Buffalo Bills, Seattle Seahawks, New York Jets, Houston Texans and New York Giants. The position has only grown in importance because of injuries across the league.

With that being said, the Giants appear like more of a selling team than a buying team right now.

Despite a brief turnaround in week 4, injuries are only cementing the fact that the season looks over at this point in October. The Giants are unlikely to save their season by giving away resources in a trade, but GM Dave Gettleman may attempt it anyway knowing that his job is on the line right now.

As time runs out for the Giants to win with their current roster, it’s starting to look like shipping off players like Bradberry is more likely than bringing in help by giving more up – and the Giants might not be able to pay for it even if they wanted to, thanks to their rough salary cap situation.

Gettleman has hardly been easy to predict, however. If no one believes the Giants will make such a move, that may just be when they surprise us for better or worse.

New York Giants restructuring James Bradberry’s contract to save cap space

New York Giants, James Bradberry

The New York Giants are in a bad cap situation right now, and their latest roster move reflects that. The team has restructured a number of contracts this season to keep from going over the salary cap, and the latest restructuring involves top cornerback James Bradberry and saves another $2.7M in cap space.

The Giants are restructuring Bradberry’s contract for the second time in the past seven months, which goes to show how bad their cap problems have gotten. The original deal that Bradberry signed when joining the team was for three years and $45M.

The move to clear more cap space could be viewed as an emergency play by Dave Gettleman, who likely intends to use the freed up cap space to make more roster changes following injuries to multiple positions including the offensive line and the inside linebacker spot.

This season is arguably Gettleman’s last chance to save his job, and his decisions going forward this season will likely reflect that reality.

As for Bradberry, the cornerback has been on the field for the vast majority of the Giants’ defensive snaps this season and recorded a pass defended in each of the opening three games of the season.

His lone interception this year came against Washington, and gave the offense a chance to put the game away after taking over the ball – that chance, of course, fell flat as the Giants ended up losing the game anyway.

Gettleman’s move to free up cap space will only push that money further down the line to a future season. At this point, however, it doesn’t look like the Giants GM cares much about that factor as he likely won’t have the job next season at this rate.

With Gettleman’s job in imminent trouble, we can expect to see more changes made to the roster which will require more spending despite the team’s already expansive spending spree during the offseason.

New York Giants: James Bradberry unconcerned by who plays around him

New York Giants, James Bradberry, logan ryan

The New York Giants moved to improve their secondary this offseason, but injury has thrown a wrench into what the team is building up. Adoree’ Jackson was added to play number two to James Bradberry at corner, but his status is questionable after an ankle sprain and it remains to be seen whether Jackson will be back for week one of the regular season.

It also looks like Jackson will almost certainly sit against the Patriots, leaving open the question of who will get playing time in his place as the Giants bring out more of their starters for the final preseason game.

However, number one cornerback Bradberry isn’t concerned by that development. According to him, the Giants have enough talent at the position that it’s not worth worrying about.

Bradberry not worried about missing Jackson

“I’m confident in whoever they put out there. I was confident last year in whoever they put out there, so I’m going to be confident this year,” Bradberry said on Friday when asked about maybe starting the season without Jackson. “My job is to play well, but also help the guy that I’m playing beside whether he’s a young guy or a veteran. I’m going to try to help whoever they put out there.”

Isaac Yiadom, the cornerback that spent much of last season playing number two, is now with the Green Bay Packers. Darnay Holmes, who is entering his second season, is a candidate to take Jackson’s place. Also in the running is Josh Jackson, who the Giants received in the trade that sent Yiadom to Green Bay.

Bradberry was also asked about what may happen if the opposing quarterback in week 1 targets the opposite side of the field from him. That scenario is another one that didn’t seem to bother Bradberry much.

I watch a lot of film, so whatever I see on film, I’m going to try to tell the other guy that’s playing opposite me so they can make plays as well. We’re not really worried about what he’s going to see. We’re worried about what we’re going to do on the defense, honestly.”

The Giants should get Jackson back relatively soon. It looks like they dodged a bullet on his injury, as it doesn’t appear to be a long term one. Despite this, it still remains a concern that the Giants have a number of current injuries as they approach week 1. And not all of these players are guaranteed to make it back in time for the regular season.

Headed into the last preseason game, it’s still unclear just what the lineup will look like when the Giants take the field against Denver next month.

New York Giants cornerback duo listed with top 10 in the league

new york giants, adoree jackson

The secondary hasn’t been the most stable spot for the New York Giants over the past few years, as the team has seen multiple first round draft picks like Eli Apple and DeAndre Baker leave for varying reasons without becoming long term players.

However, it looks like the Giants have finally reached a good spot at the position. That didn’t come through drafting, but instead through their free agent acquisitions.

The Giants watched James Bradberry raise his performance level to become one of the best corners in the league after joining them last season, and they added to his presence in 2021 by signing Adoree’ Jackson as the main number two option.

This signing is regarded as the biggest improvement to the team’s defense from 2021’s free agency, and the combination has already earned attention from the national media.

In a list of the top 10 cornerback duos in the league, NFL.com’s Cynthia Frelund listed Bradberry and Jackson at number 10.

Since 2018, James Bradberry has forced a whopping 42 incompletions — the top figure in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus. Last season, he earned an overall PFF grade of 79.8, which tied for seventh among corners with Jalen Ramsey. Computer vision shows that on snaps where the front was unable to generate pressure, Bradberry still allowed just a 59.6 percent completion percentage, the second-lowest mark amongst corners in 2020. Overall passing data logically shows that an increase in pressure correlates with a decrease in completion percentage, but it also shows that effective coverage from defensive backs ahead of the pass can correlate with increased pressure. Bradberry’s production, combined with the addition of Adoree’ Jackson, should help the Giants more effectively blanket pass catchers before the snap. Between that and the additions made up front, New York should increase its pressure rate in 2021, which will in turn drive even more efficiency from the corners.

The rating might seem low but it’s worth noting that Jackson hasn’t played a single game for the Giants yet. Bradberry improved after getting into Patrick Graham’s defense, and the same may happen with Jackson.

The Giants are confident enough in that outcome, after all, that they gave him a three year contract for a hefty $39m. The Giants secondary could easily rise further in the overall ranks of the league if Jackson sees a similar improvement to Bradberry.

It’s easy to imagine this will be a good environment for Jackson, as he’ll be playing and practicing with former Titans secondary teammates Logan Ryan and Joshua Kalu.

At the very least, the combination of Bradberry and Jackson looks better than the combo of Bradberry and Baker, and some around the league are starting to take note of that improvement this offseason.

New York Giants: Kelvin Benjamin goes at Joe Judge, Giants players defend coach

New York Giants, Joe Judge

Kelvin Benjamin had a chance to revitalize his career as a free agent signing with the New York Giants this offseason, but that’s far from how things actually turned out. The 30 year old wide receiver ended up released, and not only missed out on a chance to play this season but also caused quite a bit of drama on the way out.

It all stems from Benjamin showing up for practice on Wednesday and apparently getting into a dispute with head coach Joe Judge over his weight. The Giants required Benjamin to cut his weight down to 251 pounds, but his weight instead increased slightly since the end of minicamp. But Benjamin claims that others in the team building had previously told him that his weight was fine, and that the weight cut was an impossible request.

“I’m like: ‘I’m trying everything I can to be here. You won’t even let me on the field to show what I can do. I played receiver at 268 [pounds] and I almost had 1,000 yards [in 2016]. So why do you want me to come back at 251 at tight end?’” Benjamin told NJ Advance Media on Wednesday.

He claims that Judge just personally doesn’t like him, and that it led to the confrontation at practice and his release.

“The day before practice, he didn’t bring all of this up. I just felt like the dude didn’t like me. Mr. Gettleman knew exactly what went down. It’s crazy how they twisting the narrative about everything like it’s a joke. They make it seem like we don’t even matter,” Benjamin said about Judge. He’d also say other things, claiming that Judge’s style won’t win a Super Bowl.

It’s not the first time Judge has been criticized for his style, but some players disagree.

New York Giants defend Joe Judge

Since the incident, several New York Giants players have been active in defending their head coach.

“He’s very intense, but I feel like he prepares us each and every day for the game. That’s his motto. That’s his mindset and it helps and it works. So for us, it gets us excited for practice,” said defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence.

His sentiment was echoed by cornerback James Bradberry, who has looked like one of the best corners in the league under Judge’s leadership. He spoke with the New York Daily News, and gave his take on the situation.

“It ain’t for everybody. You feel me? He’s entitled to his opinion. I definitely think Coach Judge is tough. But football is tough. There’s a lot of pressure being in our shoes, so I don’t expect him to give us our way all the time,” Bradberry stated. “A tough coach, that’s how you build structure. That’s how you build discipline.”

“It ain’t for everybody, man, ya know? It ain’t for everybody,” Bradberry would add.

It’s a sentiment that seems to follow in the footsteps of two very successful head coaches that Judge has worked under – Bill Belichick and Nick Saban. Both of them have had problems with players over the years due to their strict nature, but have found tremendous success despite their style being deemed ‘not for everyone’ by many former players.

The current Giants roster, at least, seems to be all for Judge’s current style. As do the free agents who joined this offseason, many of whom specifically cited Judge as part of their reason for picking the Giants.

His style may not be for Kelvin Benjamin, but at the very least, it’s working with the group of players the Giants have now.

The New York Giants’ secondary has a challenging 2021 season on the horizon

The New York Giants’ 2021 schedule features a list of challenges for the team’s secondary. The Giants are set to face off against some of the best offensive weapons in the NFL this season. Wide receiver talent is plentiful in the modern NFL, a revelation the Giants will have this season.

Top wide receivers that the Giants will be facing in 2021:

(* indicates a player selected to a Pro Bowl, + indicates a player selected to an All-Pro team)

  • Jerry Jeudy
  • Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel (2x)
  • Calvin Ridley+, Kyle Pitts
  • Michael Thomas+ (maybe)
  • Amari Cooper*, CeeDee Lamb (2x)
  • Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp
  • Robby Anderson, DJ Moore
  • Tyreek Hill+, Travis Kelce+
  • Darren Waller+
  • Mike Evans*, Chris Godwin*, Rob Gronkowski+
  • DeVonta Smith (2x)
  • Will Fuller V
  • Keenan Allen*
  • Allen Robinson*

The New York Giants’ elite secondary

Thankfully, the New York Giants do seem to have the talent necessary to defend against these Pro Bowl and All-Pro receivers and tight ends. The Giants have invested a great number of assets into their secondary over the past few years. These investments have paid off as the Giants now possess one of the league’s best secondaries. New York’s 22 passing touchdowns allowed were tied for the fifth-fewest in the NFL.

James Bradberry

The Giants’ secondary is led by star cornerback James Bradberry IV. In 2020, Bradberry was one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, earning his first career Pro Bowl selection while being snubbed from the All-Pro teams. He set a new career-high with 18 passes defended, tied for the second-most in the NFL and only two behind Miami’s Xavien Howard for the league lead (Giants.com).

Logan Ryan

James Bradberry was one of two big free agent signings that the Giants made in their secondary last offseason. New York also signed safety Logan Ryan who had a stellar season during his first year with the Giants. Ryan totaled 93 combined tackles, forced 3 fumbles, and hauled in 1 interception.

Jabrill Peppers

Alongside Logan Ryan is another stud safety on the Giants’ defense: Jabrill Peppers. Jabrill had a career year in 2020, setting new career-highs in combined tackles (91), sacks (2.5), tackles for loss (8), and passes defended (11). Peppers is a phenomenal strong safety that impacts the run game and has the coverage skills to lock down tight ends and running backs.

Adoree’ Jackson

If there was one weakness in the Giants’ secondary last season, though, it was at the outside cornerback spot opposite of James Bradberry. The Giants had a revolving door at CB2. They made an effort to fill this hole in the 2021 offseason, signing former Tennessee Titans cornerback Adoree’ Jackson. This signing makes for a significant upgrade. Since 2018, Adoree Jackson has the fourth-highest coverage grade when lined up outside according to Pro Football Focus with a grade of 85.6.

Xavier McKinney

The Giants like to run a lot of three-safety packages on defense. This means that second-year safety Xavier McKinney could see starting-level snaps in 2021. According to Pro Football Focus, Xavier McKinney’s 70 overall grade was on track to be the highest-graded rookie safety of the season in his 212 snaps after coming back from injury, but he did not meet the minimum snap requirement.

Depth

Behind all of these starters, the Giants have plenty of depth in the secondary. Julian Love has proven to be a solid utility player in the secondary. Darnay Holmes and Aaron Robinson will compete at slot cornerback. Players like Isaac Yiadom and Rodarius Williams also provide the team with solid depth. The New York Giants secondary has a challenging 2021 season on the horizon, but it possesses the talent necessary to get the job done.

3 New York Giants named as players to build around

New York Giants, James Bradberry, logan ryan

The direction that the New York Giants are building in has become slightly clearer over the past couple years – their roster has improved, their wins have increased, and they have a head coach that should be around for a long time. The roster is definitely in a better state than it was when the Giants drafted Saquon Barkley, one of the most significant past moves in their rebuilding history.

But years into the rebuild, which players stand out as the most notable pieces in it? It’s a hotly debated subject, but Pro Football Focus took a swing at judging it and picked three players that, while predictable, might be a bit controversial due to the omission of one player.

CB James Bradberry
DI Leonard Williams
WR Kenny Golladay

In an ideal world, Andrew Thomas’ rookie season would have resembled Tristan Wirfs’ year, making him an easy inclusion here. There were promising things to take away from how Thomas closed the year, but his 62.4 grade was underwhelming. Bradberry’s and Williams’ performances in their first full season on the defense were not. They both ranked fourth at their respective positions in PFF’s Wins Above Replacement metric during the 2020 season.

The Giants will be hoping Golladay entices quarterback Daniel Jones to take more downfield shots. Golladay recently ranked as the league’s third-best deep threat, regularly winning in contested-catch situations downfield. Golladay’s 53 contested catches overall over the past three seasons are second to only Allen Robinson II at the position, even despite all his missed time in 2020.

Evaluating the chosen players

The omission, of course, is Daniel Jones. As we’ve seen from many articles this season from both the national and local media, much of the expectations on Jones this year center around taking a step forward and becoming a franchise player. As of now, though, PFF doesn’t list Jones with the franchise building blocks they have right now.

The three players that were listed, however, are non-controversial enough. James Bradberry looks like one of the best corners in the league, Kenny Golladay is predicted by many to be a top 10 receiver, and Leonard Williams led the team in sacks last season. Williams, though, will likely be the most boom or bust player on this list considering his inconsistent performance throughout his career.

His surroundings are different compared to when he was with the Jets, and Williams plays well under Patrick Graham, so it’s possible that the inconsistency will be shrugged off – but it’s still a concern that will have an impact on how fans look at Dave Gettleman’s decision to bring back Williams on a big contract.

Golladay hasn’t played with the Giants yet one way or another so it’s hard to judge his status as a building block just yet, but based on his performance with the Lions, he could very well be the deep threat Daniel Jones needs.

These three players all have to prove they can perform at a high level consistently in their current surroundings to truly take the title of franchise players, but out of all the players the Giants have, it’s hard to object to them receiving the title of players to build around.

The New York Giants have the secondary to shut down NFC East’s loaded groups of WRs

New York Giants, James Bradberry, logan ryan

The New York Giants defense was a top-ten unit in the NFL last season. New York’s prominent defense was led by cornerback James Bradberry, defensive linemen Leonard Williams, linebacker Blake Martinez, among other formidable defenders. The real strength of the Giants’ defensive unit, though, was its secondary.

James Bradberry, Logan Ryan, Jabrill Peppers, Julian Love, and a few other talented defensive backs were featured on the Giants’ suffocating 2020 defense. In 2021, though, the team has added even more talent in its secondary, taking the group to the next level. These additions were necessary as the NFC East loaded up on offensive weaponry this offseason.

The Dallas Cowboys have one of the best wide receiver groups in the NFL, featuring Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Michael Gallup. Terry McLaurin of the Washington Football Team was already establishing himself as one of the game’s best receivers. Then the team went out and paired him with Curtis Samuel, creating a dangerous one-two punch. The Philadelphia Eagles also upgraded at the wide receiver position, selecting 2020’s Heisman Trophy winner Devonta Smith in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

The NFC East stockpiled talented wide receivers this offseason (the Giants included). Thankfully, the Giants have the talent in their secondary necessary to shut down these loaded groups of wide receivers.

How the New York Giants will shut down the NFC East’s WRs

James Bradberry on the primary receivers

James Bradberry is a true shutdown cornerback. In 2020, he was tasked with taking out opposing teams’ primary wide receivers every week. When matched up with Cowboys’ standout receiver Amari Cooper, Bradberry proved to be a tough corner to beat. In his two matchups against the New York Giants last season, Amari Cooper totaled 41 and 23 receiving yards, two of his lowest totals on the season, with 0 touchdowns.

The Philadelphia Eagles’ leading receiver in 2020, Travis Fulgham, had a decent outing against New York in Week 7, totaling 73 yards, before being shut down in Week 10 with a total of 8 yards. Fulgham scored 0 touchdowns in both outings.

The NFC East wide receiver that gave New York the most trouble in 2020 was Terry McLaurin. Terry totaled receiving performances of 74 and 115 yards against the Giants along with 1 touchdown. Part of this could have been the fact that McLaurin lined up in the slot rather frequently, moving him away from James Bradberry.

Adoree’ Jackson on the secondary receivers

CeeDee Lamb of the Dallas Cowboys also enjoyed one of his best performances of the season against the Giants. New York managed to hold him to only 43 yards in Week 17, but he did erupt for 124 yards in Week 5 (a season-high). The Giants were comfortable with the elite James Bradberry continuing as their primary cornerback in 2021. But the team recognized a need to upgrade their second cornerback position.

To do this, the Giants went ahead and signed Adoree’ Jackson in free agency. Adoree’ Jackson will pair alongside James Bradberry as the team’s second outside cornerback, though the talent drop-off might not be as steep as some expect. Since 2018, Adoree Jackson has the fourth-highest coverage grade when lined up outside according to Pro Football Focus with a grade of 85.6.

Teams like Dallas and Washington have stellar one-two punches at the receiver position. The Giants now also have a formidable first and second line of defense at cornerback to combat these receivers.

Who will take on the slot receivers?

CeeDee Lamb was a good example of a team’s second receiver gashing the Giants’ defense due to their lack of a competent second cornerback. However, Lamb played primarily out of the slot in his rookie season. Adoree’ Jackson will be able to match up well with the likes of Curtis Samuel on the outside in Washington. But Jackson might not face off against Lamb that often.

Instead, Darnay Holmes, entering his second season, will continue as the team’s primary slot cornerback. Now, in addition to Holmes, the Giants have added another talented nickel corner in Aaron Robinson. The Giants drafted Robinson in the third round of this year’s draft. Both Holmes and Robinson are young, talented members of this secondary with the physicality to compete with any of the slot receivers in this division.

While the NFC East saw a major influx of talent at the wide receiver position, the New York Giants saw an influx of talent in their secondary. The Giants have the talent necessary to counteract the division’s receivers in 2021.

New York Giants: Two players make CBS Sports 2021 top 100 list

New York Giants, Leonard Williams

It’s around the time of the offseason when top 100 lists come out, and the New York Giants are a bit more represented on them this time around than they were last year. That, for the most part, is because of the players who stepped up last season and raised their profile as top names at their position. James Bradberry made it onto PFF’s top 100 list, but the CBS Sports version of that same list has two different Giants listed.

It seems strange to omit Bradberry as he was one of the best defensive players on the team relative to others around the league at his position, but that’s what this list does as the highest ranked Giant is instead Leonard Williams. Of course, it’s understandable why Williams is on the list. Last season, he responded well to a lot of doubts about his play and gave the Giants their much needed leading pass rusher.

Leonard Williams
New York Giants DE

He was a force last season for the Giants defense, finally achieving the level of play expected of him when he came into the league with the Jets. Williams earned a new contract because of his impressive play.

The other addition on the list is perhaps more surprising – not because of the raw talent of the player, but because of his absence during last year. This player is Saquon Barkley, who comes in on the top 100 despite the long chronological gap since he’s last performed.

Saquon Barkley
New York Giants RB

He is coming off a torn ACL suffered in Week 2 last season, which limited him to 34 yards rushing for the year. He did have two impressive seasons to open his career, but can he get back to that same level he flashed as a rookie in 2018?

Many will consider Barkley a strange addition over Bradberry. Bradberry, after all, had the better season more recently. But if the list is including future potential and not just recent performance, it’s understandable why one of the most exciting running backs in the league would make it into the top 100 despite coming off an injury.

The New York Giants might have one of the NFL’s most elite cornerback duos in 2021

new york giants, adoree jackson

The New York Giants had one of the best defenses in the NFL in 2020. The Giants’ defense ranked ninth in the NFL in points allowed and twelfth in yards allowed. What looked like arguably the team’s biggest weakness heading into the season became its biggest strength by year’s end. The Giants’ secondary saw some standout performances that made it one of the best units in the league last season.

No defensive back stood out more than cornerback James Bradberry in his first season with the New York Giants. Last offseason, Bradberry signed a three-year $43.4M contract with the Giants. The Giants made Bradberry one of the league’s highest-paid cornerbacks and many, at the time, felt like that was an overpay. But now, almost unanimously, fans agree that Bradberry lived up to the contract in his first year and even exceeded expectations.

James Bradberry was a true shutdown cornerback last season, but opposite of him, the Giants struggled to get consistency out of its secondary cornerback position. New York’s other boundary cornerback spot became a revolving door, seeing players like Corey Ballentine, Ryan Lewis, Isaac Yiadom, and Julian Love start games in that position. The Giants seemingly fixed this problem in the 2021 offseason, though, by signing Adoree’ Jackson to a three-year deal. Now the Giants might have one of the NFL’s most elite cornerback duos in 2021.

James Bradberry and Adoree’ Jackson make up an elite duo

James Bradberry and Adoree’ Jackson, when both playing their best football, are top-tier boundary cornerbacks. In 2020, Brabderry proved that while he was snubbed from an AP All-Pro Team selection. He dominated opposing wide receivers week in and week out, holding Amari Cooper to only 23 and 41 yards in two contests, and holding Allen Robinson to only 33 yards in Week Two.

Bradberry set a new career-high in 2020 with 18 passes defended, which was tied for the second-most in the NFL and only two behind Miami’s Xavien Howard for the league lead (Giants.com). PFF also ranked James Bradberry as the fifth-best cornerback in the NFL entering the 2021 season. He has forced 42 incompletions since 2018, the most of any cornerback in the NFL. Not many cornerbacks can blanket opposing wideouts the way James Bradberry does.

Adoree’ Jackson, though, has a similar ability. He too makes plays on the ball and shuts down opposing receivers. Jackson had the second-highest forced incompletion rate (18.4%) among cornerbacks from 2010-2019 (PFF). Since 2018, Adoree Jackson has the fourth-highest coverage grade when lined up outside according to Pro Football Focus with a grade of 85.6. Jackson has missed a lot of time with injuries over the past two years. But if he can stay healthy, Adoree’ Jackson will pair with James Bradberry to create an elite cornerback duo on the New York Giants defense.