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.

New York Giants: 2 free agent pass rushers that could make sense for Big Blue

New York Giants, Leonard Floyd

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.

New York Giants Should Stick With Lorenzo Carter Over Leonard Floyd

New York Giants, Lorenzo Carter

The New York Giants started beefing up the linebacker position by signing Blake Martinez early in free agency, and they may not be done yet when it comes to adding players in that area of the defense. According to Mike Garafolo, the team is potentially interested in a former top ten draft pick – linebacker Leonard Floyd, formerly of the Bears and a recently released free agent.

Floyd would be an addition to the outside linebacker spot and an alternative to the Giants drafting Isaiah Simmons with the fourth overall pick – something that might not happen due to a trade down, or because of the team’s desire to find a new starter at one of the offensive tackle positions.

There’s something peculiar about Floyd, however, and that’s the fact that he’s very much in the same mold as a player the Giants already have. Both players came from Georgia and they’re known to have a similar playing style, and both players are also regarded as being somewhat underwhelming compared to their expectations.

While Floyd was the ninth overall pick, after all, the end result of his time in Chicago is being released. He only had three sacks last season, and hasn’t repeated his rookie total of seven. In the past two seasons before that, he had four and four and a half, which are also the same numbers that Lorenzo Carter put up in the past two seasons.

Carter is, of course, the less developed player between the two of them… But in this case, that works out in his favor. An argument can be made that the Giants should stick with what they have when it comes to deciding on which of Carter and Floyd should be prioritized. Carter only has two years in the league and has put up the same numbers over the past couple of years that Floyd has put up with double the experience.

Furthermore, Carter even has slightly more tackles than Floyd in the span of the past two seasons despite playing on a worse overall defense – Floyd couldn’t capitalize, after all, on playing with Khalil Mack.

So with those numbers, why should the Giants pay attention to Floyd becoming a free agent? Carter isn’t the highest performing player on the defense, but sticking with him and targeting a different player to help with the pass rush may just be the better option than going for a player with a similar play style, and more experience, but numbers that are about the same and even slightly less despite that advantage in experience.