The New York Giants need an influx of talent at pass rusher, as the outside linebacker corps, this past season was shredded with injuries and inconsistency.
During the 2020 season, the Giants managed 40 total sacks, good for 12th in the NFL. It is quite impressive that coordinator Patrick Graham was able to scheme pressure without elite pass rushers, aside from a strong interior defense.
Thankfully, Leonard Williams produced 11.5 to cover up the deficiencies of other units. Utilizing safeties, corners, and linebackers to blitz and stunt also worked effectively, but adding a solid player to the trenches would be beneficial for Graham and his quest to develop one of the best defenses in football.
Let’s take a look at two free agents the New York Giants could consider this off-season:
1.) Leonard Floyd
Remember when the New York Giants were interested in edge rusher Leonard Floyd back in 2016? Well, the Chicago Bears leapfrogged them and secured his talents. At 6-foot-4 and 251 pounds, Floyd has fantastic size and speed off the edge but simply hasn’t been able to develop into the star player most believed he would.
Since then, Floyd has slowly developed his game, having a solid season this past year with the Los Angeles Rams. He had his best game of the year against the Arizona Cardinals in week 17, earning a 90.4 overall pass-rush grade, per PFF. He finished the year with 11 total sacks, which represents a quality pass rusher with room left to grow. He fits the outside linebacker role perfectly for the Giants, and he’s also remained healthy, which is a great factor to incorporate.
He might be a bit more pricey than some of the other players on the market, but Floyd undoubtedly represents a player with upside and one that can be a difference-maker for Big Blue moving forward. If they’re willing to spend a bit more money on his services, he really is a perfect fit for Graham’s scheme.
2.) Jadeveon Clowney
This might be a bit more optimistic, but Clowney could represent a solid alternative for the Giants. He played in just eight games this year before suffering a knee injury to his meniscus. That could indicate an opportunity for the Giants to secure his talents on a one year deal, which would likely be cheaper. Clowney is a fantastic talent when healthy, locking down the edge in the run game and also providing effective pass rush moves. He doesn’t collect the stats that normally you would expect from a player of his talents, but you could say the same for Leonard Williams over the past few years.
Graham simply knows how to extract the most from underperforming players, and Clowney could be one of them. At 6-foot-5 and 255 pounds, he has elite size and strength and played primarily at outside linebacker this year with the Tennessee Titans. It would be an easy transition for the Giants, and after signing a one-year, $12.7 million deal this past season with the Titans, that price tag will probably drop even further. If they could lock him in on a one year, $8-10 million deal, they could be in great shape moving forward on the D-line.
Of course, taking a risk on an injury-prone player is always something to be aware of, but if it works out in the Giants’ favor, it could lead them to a playoff appearance and more. That’s the trade-off you have to consider, so the Giants will have to run the risk, but one that could pay off in dividends.