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.

New York Giants could target lowkey stud tight end in 2nd round

New York Giants, pat freiermuth

As tight end Evan Engram heads into the fifth year of his NFL career, the New York Giants still aren’t completely sold on the fact that he can be their long-term solution at the position.

Engram is a polarizing talent that comes up with spectacular plays and then reverts back to his inadequate self, dropping passes and being directly connected to turnovers. In fact, during the 2020 season, Engram dropped 11 passes and was targeted on five of Daniel Jones’ five interceptions.

Nonetheless, general manager Dave Gettleman has already picked up his fifth-year option for 2021, elevating his pay from $2 million last year to $6 million next season. While his value can still be utilized on game day, I get the sense that the Giants don’t necessarily feel he can be their long term TE, given his inconsistencies in the receiving game.

Engram is primarily known as a receiving threat from the position, with lackluster in-line blocking abilities in the run game. He’s a decent pass blocker, realizing gradual improvement last season, but the Giants could look to the 2021 NFL draft for his eventual replacement.

Most are clamoring about Florida TE Kyle Pitts, but I highly doubt the Giants elect to go that route with the 11th overall pick. Despite Pitts being a wide receiver in a tight end’s body, they have other pressing needs, and I don’t feel confident Jason Garrett can utilize a player like Pitts to his maximum potential.

If not Pitts, the New York Giants can land another great prospect at TE:

However, Garrett does like to use 12 personnel a ton, which utilizes two TEs and one running back. We saw that frequently with Engram and Kaden Smith throughout the year, and there’s one tight end in the second round that could fit the bill perfectly.

Penn State TE Pat Freiermuth represents one of the best options at the position in 2021. During 2020, he recorded 310 receiving yards and one score, but he missed 11 games with a shoulder injury that required surgery. The year prior, in 2019, he helped his team provide seven scores and 507 yards to the air through 13 games. He was expected to take a significant leap forward, averaging 77.5 yards per game in 2020.

Nonetheless, his injury will likely have an effect on his draft stock, but he is the perfect player for the Giants if they want to take a flyer on him in the second round. It is possible he gets taken in the first, but I highly doubt teams will take an opportunity on him with more highly rated players on the board (and he’s coming off an injury-influenced season). However, at 22 years old, he’s a bit older for a rookie entering the NFL, but he has fantastic size to go with his skill set.

At 6-foot-5 and 258 pounds, Freiermuth is a quintessential receiving TE who can translate extremely well to the next level. He has a prototypical build for his position and has room to grow with his blocking. He’s not known for his in-line blocking abilities, but that aspect of his game was expected to take a significant step forward in 2020 before his shoulder injury ended his season prematurely.

The medical aspect will likely force him to drop in the draft, and he could fall right into the Giants’ laps. However, his value doesn’t come in the form of blocking, it comes in the form of versatility as a receiver and creating mismatches in coverage.

The NFL is a mismatch league, and acquiring a player like Pat who can dominate in man coverage against linebackers and utilize his big frame to box out corners and safeties,  would be an excellent contribution to the Giants’ offense. In fact, it might be exactly what they’re looking for if Jason Garrett stays as the offensive coordinator. He likes big bodies, similar to Jason Witten from his past in Dallas, and Pat represents just that. He’s even more athletic than Witten was in his prime, but he’s not as refined in blocking. Compared to Engram, he has an additional 2 inches and 20 pounds, giving him that frame to develop his blocking technique and dominate in short/intermediate yardage situations.

Don’t be fooled, though, as he averaged 13.5 yards per reception in 2020, indicating he can get downfield quickly and make plays in traffic. He’s an extremely underrated prospect that should be receiving more attention, and I believe he might be a perfect fit in 12 personnel with Garrett and the Giants.

New York Giants: Eli Manning working with ESPN, hoping to do more with Giants

New York Giants, Eli Manning

The time has gone by fast, but the New York Giants have gone a couple of seasons now without Eli Manning as their starting quarterback. Manning, as usual, kept a low profile when the team replaced him with Daniel Jones, and has since slipped into a comfortable retirement that comes with a newfound Twitter presence.

And according to a recent ESPN interview, it looks like life is going good for Manning right now. He talked about Twitter, sloppy Joes, and also his plans for the future. Interestingly enough, that might involve the Giants – but probably not in the coaching role some might have predicted when Manning retired.

“You’re a little bit limited on what you could do and what some options were, obviously, with a pandemic going on, so I just took this time to just reflect and dabble in a few things,” Manning said about his options in the future. “I am going to do some things with ESPN. I filmed a couple [episodes] of “Details” the other day on Mac Jones and Justin Fields.”

He said that he’s going to join his brother Peyton on his Peyton’s Places TV show, an exclusive of ESPN+. According to Manning, he’ll be involved in doing a college football version of the format.

Manning and the Giants linking up again?

Perhaps of more interest to Giants fans, Manning said he’s interested in doing more with the team.

“Hopefully I’ll be able to do some more things with the Giants next year as well. This year, it was new, didn’t know how much I wanted to be around [the team]. I think we both needed a break from each other, but hopefully I can do some more things related to the Giants.”

With Manning going into TV, it doesn’t seem like he’ll be a candidate to get on the coaching staff as an assistant. But there’s still plenty of other ways to remain tied to the team, especially if Manning embraces the TV journalist role like some other former players have.

Either way, New York Giants fans will be happy to see Manning around again after his retirement has so far been decently quiet.

Should the New York Giants let Dalvin Tomlinson walk in free agency?

New York Giants, Dalvin Tomlinson

The New York Giants have a few big decisions to make this off-season, and one of them centers around defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson.

Tomlinson is a former second-round pick by the Giants in 2017 and hasn’t missed a game in four years. Ultimately, the Giants like healthy players in the trenches, similar to Leonard Williams, who has also never missed a game due to injury. Their dynamic duo in 2020 combined for 15 total sacks, 106 total tackles, 22 tackles for loss, and 40 quarterback hits.

Letting Tomlinson walk this off-season after the conclusion of his rookie deal would undoubtedly have a significant impact on the Giants’ defensive line. He is one of the best run stoppers and routinely puts pressure on the pocket from a 0-1 technique standpoint. He can line up over the center and over the inside shade of guards.

His impact is well recorded within the Giants brass, who value him highly, especially after earning one of his best pass-rush grades from the 2020 season.

Per PFF, Tomlinson had a career-high 74.7 pass-rush great but did struggle with his tackling efficiency this year. He missed a career-high 12.5% of his tackles, but it didn’t show up as a significant difference-makers on film. He did generate 18 hurries on opposing quarterbacks and made 26 stops, which attests to his value in the trenches and stopping the run.

The big issue is breaking up the trio of big men general manager Dave Gettleman has put together on the defensive front. Leonard Williams, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Dexter Lawrence all represent a hard nose style of football that the Giants have adapted to after the hiring of Joe Judge. They like to generate pressure from the interior, allowing the outside linebackers to dominate in 1V1 matchups on the outside.

That is a primary reason most expect the Giants to acquire an above-average pass rusher this off-season so that the interior defense can maximize their efforts. When the outside linebackers are lackluster, it forces the interior to do a majority of the work with little support. Tomlinson is a primary factor in their scheme, especially under Patrick Graham’s 3-4 defense that prioritizes big men in the trenches.

The expectation is that Tomlinson will command at least $10 million in free agency per year, and the Giants only have so much money they can spend.

There were reports during the trade deadline this past year that the Green Bay Packers tried to acquire Tomlinson. However, Judge indicated his confidence in the roster, as the Giants elected to stay quiet without making any significant deals. It is no secret that Dalvin wants to stay in blue for the remainder of his career, but football is a business, and players depart frequently.

The friendship that Williams and Tomlinson have created this season is special, and their tandem will likely blossom in 2021 with a year of experience in Graham’s scheme. Adding another piece to the secondary to help shore up the CB2 spot will only help them in the trenches. In my opinion, the Giants need to do everything it takes to retain Tomlinson and Williams for the future, but given the cap situation, it will be incredibly difficult.

New York Giants: Jason Garrett not favored as Chargers HC, likely to return

New York Giants, Austin Mack, Jason Garrett

Some New York Giants fans might have been hoping the Chargers would take Jason Garrett off the hands of the team, but it doesn’t look so likely that a deal will happen. While Garrett did interview to become the head coach of the Chargers, reports are coming out that indicate the team is interested in another candidate.

That candidate is Bills OC Brian Daboll, whose team is still alive in the AFC playoffs following a win against Baltimore.

Jordan Raanan has reported that the feeling around the league is that Daboll is the favorite for the Chargers. If that does happen, it looks like Garrett will come back for another year with the Giants.

The Giants haven’t shown any signs they want to move on from Garrett, and statements from John Mara seem to indicate the opposite. And so far, it looks like the Chargers job is the only other job that Garrett has interviewed for.

Garrett had a tough outing in his first year, of course. He had to alter his plans due to Saquon Barkley going down early in the season, but few would say the Giants offense adapted well to the change.

While the Giants were able to show flashes of potential in some of their wins, Garrett was criticized for a lackluster passing game and not calling creative routes that would allow receivers to get separation.

But with his first year disrupted by limited offseason training due to COVID-19 as well as the injury to Barkley, it seems the Giants organization is willing to give Garrett another go next season. After all, if the team didn’t want Garrett back, we would have heard about it by now.

New York Giants: 3 reasons we should expect a big jump from Andrew Thomas in 2021

New York Giants, Andrew Thomas

When the New York Giants drafted Andrew Thomas with the fourth overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft, most felt optimistic they secured their left tackle for the future.

After experiencing the Ereck Flowers debacle and a lackluster performance from Nate Solder in 2019, Giants fans and management were clearly ready to allocate a high draft pick toward a staple left tackle. However, Thomas’s rookie season was tumultuous, oftentimes failing miserably in pass blocking during the first half of the 2020 season.

Overall, Thomas allowed 10 sacks, 8 quarterback hits, 39 hurries, and 57 pressures. He was also hit with three penalties. From a general standpoint, that is a terrible season for a tackle and ranks poorly when compared to the other first-round tackles from the draft class.

There are multiple factors that suggest a big leap in 2021, and the Giants could use it with Daniel Jones going into a make or break year.

Three reasons the New York Giants should expect a big second-year jump from Andrew Thomas:

1.) He’s already an affective run-blocker

One of Thomas’ major strengths coming out of Georgia was his run-blocking ability, displaying fantastic aggression and the desire for work in the trenches. That didn’t change in the NFL, as he experienced several high-profile run blocking performances in his rookie season. Despite the Giants losing Saquon Barkley to a torn ACL in week 2, they still managed to produce an average running attack, which was far above expectations given the youth in the trenches.

Thomas earned grades of 73 or above on five different occasions, with his best performance coming against the Seattle Seahawks in week 13. He earned an 84.3 overall grade, per PFF. In that specific contest, the Giants ran for 190 yards, with back up Wayne Gallman averaging 8.4 yards per carry and totaling 135. They were routinely running to the weak side of the formation, as Thomas was dominating his assignments and opening up gaping holes for the running backs to exploit.

This is a major strength for the Giants, who are vocally committed to establishing the run. With Barkley expected to return in 2021, Thomas will be an integral part and leading the attack on the ground.

2.) He played through injury

Just this past week, we discovered that Andrew Thomas required off-season surgery on his left ankle. This was a major surprise, considering the injury was something that occurred during training camp, indicating that Thomas played an entire 16 game season with a bum left ankle.

It’s important to note that tackles utilize the lower half of their bodies predominantly when anchoring and resetting, so fighting through pain routinely shows how tough Thomas is. At just 21 years old, he’s barely able to buy himself a legal alcoholic beverage, and after surgery, I imagine he will need a few whiskeys.

3.) His pass blocking improved in second-half of rookie season

The major con for Thomas in 2020 was his pass blocking. He finished with a 54.7 overall pass-blocking grade, but the second half of his campaign saw dramatic improvements.

To be exact, during the first eight weeks of the 2020 season, he earned a 52 overall grade in the category, but in the second half, he landed at 62.7. That is a major difference, especially since he was baptized by fire with multiple elite pass rushers in the first four games. Right off the bat, he was forced to take on Bud Dupree, Khalil Mack, Robert Quinn, and Aaron Donald and Co.

He gradually improved as the season went on, despite the New York Giants moving on from offensive line coach Marc Colombo. The changes didn’t seem to affect Thomas too much, as he battled injury and new protection styles. At such a young age, Thomas has the potential to be a fantastic left tackle, and I think we will see him take a jump forward in 2021.

New York Giants: Sterling Shepard makes top 25 receivers in 2020 PFF list

New York Giants, Sterling Shepard

New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard only played in 12 games last season, but it looked like the Giants were getting their money’s worth for the time he was on the field. Shepard was one of the most threatening receivers to opposing defenses in 2020 and at times, it looked like some of his catches made Daniel Jones look better too.

The effort was ultimately one of the saving graces for the Giants during a year when the offense was all around poor, and it earned Shepard some recognition as Pro Football Focus compiled their position rankings for 2020. Shepard just barely made the cut, but was placed in the top 25 for his position.

23. STERLING SHEPARD, NEW YORK GIANTS

Shepard closed out his 2020 campaign with his two best games of the entire season, subsequently squeaking him into the top 25 with a 79.6 PFF grade for the year. He was one of 85 wide receivers to see at least 80 targets this season, and among that group, he was 11th in the percentage of catchable passes caught at 94.3%. Shepard hardly did anything vertically in Jason Garrett’s offense, but he jumped to 16th in receiving grade on non-vertical route targets.

As mentioned in the article, one of the big obstacles for the Giants passing game last season was Jason Garrett’s offense. The Giants didn’t make much happen down the field and the lack of creativity from Garrett allowed defenses to figure the Giants out somewhat. While receivers had trouble getting separation this year, some of the blame has to fall on the staff for not mixing things up and catching defenses off guard with different looks.

Going into the next season, the Giants may or may not have a more vertical threat as their number one wide receiver. However, Shepard should benefit either way from this setup. After all, if defenses are focusing on another player over the top, that opens up more chances for Shepard as a secondary receiver.

And with Darius Slayton not making the jump forward many expected in 2020, Shepard still might be the most reliable receiver the Giants have on the roster right now.

What is the New York Giants’ biggest weakness on defense?

New York Giants

The New York Giants‘ defense exceeded all expectations in 2020. The Giants’ defense allowed only 349.3 yards per game, the twelfth-best average by a defense in the NFL this season. New York’s biggest strength in 2020 was their run defense, allowing only 111.4 rushing yards per game (tenth-best).

The Giants benefit from having an impressive core of defensive lineman holding down the front of their defense. The trio of Leonard Williams, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Dexter Lawrence make up the strongest positional unit on the Giants’ roster.

The Giants’ defense improved drastically in 2020 when compared to 2019. New York allowed only 22.3 points per game in 2020 after allowing 28.2 points per game in 2019. The defense is the strength of the New York Giants, but there is still room for improvements.

Heading into the offseason, the Giants are focused on fixing the offense. But they could afford to allocate some assets towards the defensive side of the ball as well.

Where can the Giants improve on defense?

The Giants have an excellent, youthful defensive line. Their linebacker corps is led by Blake Martinez, a stud inside linebacker that totaled 151 combined tackles this season. Cornerback James Bradberry had an elite season in the Giants’ secondary. And, holding down the back end, is a phenomenal trio of safeties made up by Jabrill Peppers, Logan Ryan, and Xavier McKinney.

The Giants have good players in their front seven and their secondary. But neither one of these units is perfect. Within the Giants’ front seven, there is a major weakness at the edge rusher position. New York’s pass-rush was solid this year, but mainly because of their excellent interior defensive linemen. The pass-rush was lacking off of the edge and New York needs to find a way to improve that position this offseason.

The secondary has an obvious weakness as well. While Bradberry performed as a shutdown cornerback this season, the Gaints also enjoyed a solid rookie season out of Darnay Holmes in the slot. However, opposite of James Bradberry, the Giants had a revolving door at their second cornerback position. From Ryan Lewis to Isaac Yiadom and even safety Julian Love, the Giants experimented plenty at the cornerback position and struggled to find consistent play.

One could debate which position is a bigger position of weakness for the Giants entering the 2021 offseason. Regardless the Giants need to improve these areas to take their defense to the next level. The Giants should prioritize adding or developing talent off the edge and at their second cornerback position in 2021.

The Giants should consider tagging and trading Leonard Williams

New York Giants, Leonard Williams

The New York Giants have a lot of key decisions to make this offseason, and one of them is what to do with their star defensive linemen Leonard Williams.

After acquiring Williams from the Jets via trade midway through the 2019 season, which was largely seen as a controversial move amongst Giants fans, general manager Dave Gettleman ended up using the franchise tag on Williams for 1-year and $16 million dollars after failing to come to terms on a long-term contract.

Looking back on it now, the Giants probably regret not locking up Williams long-term, as he went on to have a monster year this season. Williams was a Pro Bowl snub after racking up 57 total tackles and 11.5 sacks for the Giants and is sure to command a massive contract on the open market as a free agent.

There is no doubt that the Giants want to keep Williams in blue, but it might be difficult for them to do so. As good as Williams was this season, it was the first season in his career where he’s had more than 7 sacks, and that was back in 2016. In the three seasons between his 2016 season and this season, Williams only manages to put up 7.5 sacks total.

The questions surrounding whether Williams can maintain this elite level of play going forward could and probably should cause the Giants to have some reservations about how much they would be willing to pay him. If they can sign him for around $17-$18 million dollars per year, then they should bring him back. But, even with the shortened salary cap this offseason, it’s entirely possible Williams will command $20 million dollars per year, or maybe even more.

If the number goes that high, it would make more sense for Giants to let go of Williams. However, an alternative to simply letting him walk away for nothing is to tag and trade Williams, which is something that hasn’t been talked about much but would make a lot of sense for the Giants.

It remains unclear what the franchise tag salaries are going to look like this offseason and whether or not Williams would get tagged as a defensive end or a defensive tackle. A year ago, Williams got tagged as a defensive tackle, but that could change this season. Either way, the franchise tag salary isn’t likely to increase from last season and might even decrease due to the limited salary cap. Even if does increase, it likely won’t reach $20 million, so it would be worth it for the Giants.

Another huge bonus in tagging and trading Williams is the ability to get a potentially great draft pick in return, one that’s better than the third-round compensatory pick they would receive by letting him walk, which is basically a fourth-round pick in disguise. Williams will definitely draw interest around the league after the season he had, and if a team is willing to offer a second-round pick or even a first-round pick, it’s a no-brainer for the Giants.

This is probably an unlikely scenario for the Giants, even though there’s no reason for them not to do it if the opportunity presents itself. They would likely either pay up for Williams to keep him long term or let him walk for a compensatory pick.

But, tagging and trading Williams would be a creative and smart route the Giants could potentially take in order to add another early draft pick and spread out their cap space across multiple players rather than tying most of it to one player.

Leonard Williams had a phenomenal year and has earned himself a massive payday, whether that’s from the Giants or someone else. We shall see what the Giants choose to do in the coming months, but they would be wise to consider going in the direction of tagging and trading Williams if his price tags exceed what they’re willing to pay.

Should the New York Giants consider DL Gregory Rousseau with the 11th overall pick?

New York Giants, Gregory Rousseau

The New York Giants could go in various different directions with the 11th overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft.

Ultimately, they have several positions of weakness that need to be bolstered, but ownership has indicated that the offense could use resource allocations. Ever since Dave Gettleman drafted Daniel Jones in In 2019, he has done little to inject weapons around him, as Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard simply haven’t been enough.

Of course, it was impossible to know that Saquon Barkley would tear his ACL and miss a majority of the 2020 season, but Jones always needed a talented receiver who could beat man-coverage and stretch the field.

That is where the Giants will likely allocate the 11th overall pick, as Alabama stars DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle could fall right into their laps. If that is the case, the decision should be easy, but there’s always the possibility that their preferred receivers won’t be on the board. In that case, they could look to a pass rusher to bolster their defense.

The New York Giants could take a more risky approach:

One option is Miami standout Gregory Rousseau, who opted out of the 2020 season but had a phenomenal 2019 campaign. He will likely land in the middle of the first round after posting 15.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss.

However, some view Rousseau as a project that has raw athleticism and talent but simply isn’t refined. From a general standpoint, that opinion would be correct. He only has one real season of production as a freshman, and as a previous high school wide receiver and safety, the transition to the defensive line can be tumultuous when making the jump to the NFL.

Rousseau made a business decision by opting out, declaring for the NFL draft in a pass rush light year. After Chase Young and a bevy of talented defenders were plucked in 2020, this upcoming draft offers him a fantastic chance of going in the first round without much competition. His production is absolutely eye-popping, and his physical skill set makes him a potentially elite player, but his lack of fundamentals and technique shows up on tape.

At 6-foot-7 and 260 pounds, Rousseau undoubtedly has the tangible tools to be a quality player in the trenches, but he lacks the foundational strength to beat stronger and more physical lineman.

Despite his deficiencies, he would match up very well in Patrick Graham’s defensive scheme, which uses multiples and rotates players into different positions. In my opinion, Rousseau is the Isaiah Simmons of the defensive line, with the ability to play five-technique, three-technique, zero-technique, and even outside linebacker. His rangy athleticism would be a good fit on the outside in the Giants’ 3-4 scheme, and considering his ability to drop into coverage, Graham would have a field day with his physical traits.

However, drafting him at 11 would be a little bit optimistic for my liking. The only way I would consider him is if the Giants elect to trade back and acquired more assets. His physical tools are absolutely something to build around, and having talented coaches like Graham makes this a much more attractive draft pick.

Again, Rousseau is more of a project than an immediate plug-and-play, which actually constitutes him as more of a second-round player than first. The only reason he’s going so early is that there’s a lack of pass rush in the first round this year.