Recapping the New York Jets’ first day of free agency

New York Jets, Adam Gase

The New York Jets have expressed a lot of interest but done very little, so here’s a breakdown of all that’s gone down in regards to the Jets today for both sides of the ball. As for tomorrow, Gang Green needs to wake up.

Offensive Line Rumors

The Jets were in on three key offensive linemen — Graham Glasgow, Joe Thuney, and Jack Conklin. All three are not going to be joining the Green and White. Despite prioritizing building through the trenches, the Jets added one offensive lineman today, and it was a guy they could’ve waited to scoop up in George Fant. The Jets need to add interior offensive linemen and are reportedly targeting C/G Steven Wisniewski & G Greg Van Roten. Van Roten is a longtime Jets fan and great pass protector, Wisniewski is a veteran with Douglas connections.

Wide Receiver Rumors

The Jets are devoted to helping Sam, but at what cost? The Jets missed out on adding either Stefon Diggs, Amari Cooper, and DeAndre Hopkins. All three would’ve been legit number one receivers. Now the Jets head towards day two of free agency looking to add playmakers. Phillip Dorsett is reportedly a big target. Dorsett is the only guy the Jets have publicly been linked to, but expect more to emerge tomorrow and keep an eye on Emmanuel Sanders.

Edge Rusher Rumors

The Jets have been very active in expressing interest here. The Jets have shown interest in Dante Fowler Jr as expected. However, the Jets have also shown SERIOUS interest in Jadeveon Clowney. If the money is there and feasible, the Jets should go after him. He would be a monster for Gregg Williams to have fun with on defense. Fowler and Clowney would immediately add more star power on defense. The Jets also seem inclined to let Jordan Jenkins walk per Connor Hughes of The Athletic.

As for lesser names, the Jets had shown interest in Kyle Van Noy before the Dolphins added him. Expect them to target Markus Golden as well.

Cornerback Rumors

The Jets were in on both James Bradberry and Byron Jones, but it seemed more than likely they would target lesser corners. Desmond Trufant was released by Atlanta today and has already been linked to the Jets. As has Chris Harris Jr. and Prince Amukamara. Brian Poole is a guy the Jets would like to bring back, but cost is debatable. Corner is a priority for the Jets, and their goal is to find value guys.

New York Jets are stifled by New England in pursuit over top offensive guard

New England Patriots, Joe Thuney

The New York Jets can no longer sign  New England guard, Joe Thuney. Thuney was a player the Jets really really liked and he now remains in the AFC East with the Patriots. Thuney has consistently ranked as one of the best guards in football. He has played every game in the last four years for New England. He would’ve been a great addition but now the Jets have to adapt and overcome. So, where do the Jets go from here?

Other Options

Graham Glasgow and Greg Van Roten have both been linked to the Jets and Connor Hughes reports that the Jets are expected to ramp up their pursuit of Glasgow. The Jets will likely aim to add Jack Conklin as well. If the Jets can add a guard and Conklin then this would be a major success. However, losing out on Thuney is missing out on a guy who immediately would’ve bolstered the line and provided leadership. The Jets now have to adapt and change their plans and aim to find other solutions like Conklin and a guard.

The State Of The AFC East

There are suggestions the Pats tagged Thuney to prevent him from staying in the AFC East with the Jets or Dolphins. The Pats could trade him which is  likely because if he remains, he and Shaq Mason take up a lot of their cap for the guard slots. With their re-signings and now Thuney, the Patriots need to do something to achieve cap feasibility. Whether that is trading Thuney or trading or releasing other pieces, they’re in a tough spot. If they keep Thuney then it’s less feasible for Brady to return and this move as a whole could drastically alter the climate of the AFC East.

New York Jets Roadmap To a Ring: Free Agency Predictions

New York Jets, Vic Beasley

This is section three of my multi-part series dedicated to laying out a blueprint for the New York Jets this offseason. It is essentially a blueprint of what I would do if I were in Joe Douglas’s shoes. Most moves are realistic, but keep in mind; there is A LOT of offseason to go. Part three is devoted to the “dawgs” the Jets should bring in during free agency.

Estimated Cap After Resigning Players & Cuts: $47,317,397

Joe Thuney G

Estimated Deal: $14 million a year for five years

Thuney is one of the best guards in football. He hasn’t missed a single game in his career, and he’s been one of the most efficient offensive linemen. Thuney is going to command BIG money, but that’s what you have to pay to get the best. Douglas needs to splurge and get a beast to pair with Alex Lewis on this offensive line. This would be a phenomenal move.

Ronald Darby CB

Estimated Deal: $5 million a year for two years

Darby was a very talented corner for the Eagles, but he had an awful campaign last year. He still has potential mainly because he played banged up most of last year, and in a Gregg Williams defense, Darby should be successful. Offensive line was prioritized, so the Jets subsequently miss out on Bradberry and Jones in this scenario, but the low-cost option in Darby is a good one.

Vic Beasley EDGE

Estimated Deal: $7.5 million a year for three years

Beasley is an underrated productive edge rusher. In his career, he’s had 37.5 sacks. He had eight sacks last season, and he is a major Swiss Army knife that Gregg Williams would love to have. Adding two low-cost, efficient players in Darby and Beasley immediately improves the defense. Pairing Beasley with Jenkins could be the edge-rushing answer for the short term.

Demarcus Robinson WR

Estimated Deal: $4 million a year for two years

Robinson can be a cheap asset for this team, and he allows for draft flexibility. Robinson would be able to slot in with Crowder, Doctson, and likely two draft picks and immediately become a vital piece of the offense. Gase would be able to have fun with a young receiver like Robinson, who is a dynamic playmaker.

Halapoulivaati Vaitai OL

Estimated Deal: $9.5 million a year for four years

Vaitai is an underrated value signing that I would be ecstatic for. Vaitai is a Super Bowl Champion who filled in admirably for Jason Peters in the past. Vaitai is versatile and has a connection to Douglas. By signing Vaitai, you add a starting-caliber lineman who can play wherever. Adding a guy like him makes Beachum less important and nearly expendable. Beachum could be a reliable mentor at left tackle for a rookie and excellent backup. Overall, Vaitai and Thuney immediately makes the offensive line more suitable for Sam Darnold. With the two of them, Alex Lewis, Chuma Edoga, and Kelvin Beachum, the Jets have a solid offensive line before the draft, where I plan to try to add two more linemen. This eases pressure, however, and makes offensive line less prioritized.

EDIT: Kelvin Beachum resigning becomes unnecessary, but in this case, I worked it into the team as depth.

Overview:

This would be a great free agency for the Jets. They would add two great offensive linemen and three low risk/high reward players. All of these moves lead up to the big event… the Draft.

New York Giants Could Pursue Byron Jones And James Bradberry In Free Agency

New York Giants, Byron Jones, Dallas Cowboys

The New York Giants are reportedly planning on prioritizing the cornerback position in free agency this offseason (Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post). Luckily for New York, there are plenty of talented cornerbacks set to be available.

Two of the top cornerbacks for the Giants to target will be Byron Jones and James Bradberry. Both will have very competitive markets but would be massive upgrades to add to the Giants’ young and upcoming secondary.

Byron Jones

The Dallas Cowboys are in a bit of trouble regarding their salary cap. They just paid Ezekiel Elliot and Demarcus Lawrence, and they still have not paid Dak Prescott. New head coach Mike McCarthy will have some tough decisions to make regarding the team’s impending free agents, and he might have to let some big names walk out the door. Byron Jones could be one of those big names to depart.

The 27-year-old cornerback out of Connecticut has been one of the best cornerbacks in the league with the Cowboys. Byron Jones is a versatile cornerback that makes a significant impact in pass coverage. He has experience playing both safety and cornerback at the professional level and has done both exceptionally well. Jones is 6 feet tall and 200 pounds. He’s a large-bodied cornerback with peak physicality to cover larger receivers and tight ends. Finally, the Giants could get a coverage-man to shut down opposing tight ends.

James Bradberry

In Ryan Dunleavy’s report, he listed Byron Jones and James Bradberry as two potential cornerback targets for the Giants in free agency. Dunleavy described Bradberry as a “coveted option.” There should be a competitive market to sign James Bradberry.

But James is expected to cost a pretty penny. According to a report by Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, Bradberry is seeking a contract worth approximately $15 million per year. This might be a bit expensive for a 27-year-old cornerback that has never been to a Pro Bowl.

In 2019, Bradberry recorded 3 interceptions, and 12 passes defended. James is not exactly an elite talent, but he is a reliable veteran that would be a considerable upgrade in the Giants’ secondary. If they can acquire Bradberry for the right price, it might be worth the investment.

New York Jets: Should the Jets Pursue Vic Beasley in Free Agency?

New York Jets, Vic Beasley

Pass rusher is one of the biggest needs the Jets need to conquer this offseason and it just so happens that a promising young pass rusher will hit the market in free agency. Vic Beasley is not expected to re-sign with the Atlanta Falcons and is set to hit free agency. The New York Jets should try to get Beasley but the question is how much do they value him?

Production

Vic Beasley came was once thought of as an up and coming superstar after a terrific 15.5 sack sophomore season. Unfortunately, Beasley never came anywhere close to that production ever again and has been average the past 3 years. Beasley has the ability to play in either a 3-4 or a 4-3 scheme and he is supremely athletic. The 2019 season was Beasley’s best since his sophomore year, he racked up 8 sacks and notched 42 total tackles and 12 QB hits. Beasley is only 27 and is in his prime if the Jets think that he can make a comeback then this move is worth the risk.

Contract

Beasley is going to enter a crowded pass-rusher market which will initially drive his price down unless teams get desperate after all the top pass rushers are gone. A contract for Vic Beasley is very tough to gauge because his value is dependent on what players like him will earn in free agency. The perfect contract comparison for Beasley is Dante Fowler Jr who got a 1 year 12-million-dollar deal with the Rams last offseason. The Jets might find that too pricey for a player who has been inconsistent his entire career and may opt to go with a safer yet more expensive option like Yannick Ngakoue.

Prediction

I believe the New York Jets will do their due diligence with Vic Beasley and offer him a 1 year prove-it deal for around 10-12 million dollars with 3 million guaranteed at signing. The Jets will consider Beasley’s inconsistency and injury history and potential when offering him a contract, but he will most likely be a fall back option in case Jadeveon Clowney and Yannick Ngakoue are gone.

New York Jets: Three Offensive Free Agents the Jets Should Sign

New York Jets

The New York Jets offense in 2019 was a total disaster posting historically bad numbers throughout the season. Jets “offensive genius” head coach Adam Gase is likely one bad season away from getting canned so it’s imperative for him to avoid another season like 2019. The Jets need help offensively and with 80 million dollars in cap room maybe they’ll coerce a star to come over to the big apple. There are multiple players the Jets can go after but these three should be the biggest targets for gang green.

Brandon Scherff

Brandon Scherff is most likely going to be a free agent this season and that could not have come at a better time for the Jets. The Jets must back up the brinks truck for this guy. The Jets narrowly missed out on Scherff in the 2015 NFL draft and they would be foolish to miss out on him again five years later. Scherff is a three-time pro bowl guard and he would be a massive upgrade over Brian Winters. Scherff is a versatile player who can play anywhere on the offensive line which is perfect for the Jets because they have issues all over the line. If the Jets want to revamp their offensive line Scherff is the perfect player to start with and they should do whatever it takes to get him.

Jack Conklin

Jack Conklin has been nothing short of a great player in his NFL career. Conklin may not have carried over his success from his rookie year but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a sold player. After being named an all pro his rookie year Conklin’s productiveness fell off a bit, he is a very solid tackle, but he hasn’t been able to regain his dominant rookie performance. Conklin might demand somewhere between 12-16 million dollars annually which is a big risk considering his inconsistency. Conklin is worth looking at especially for the Jets who will most likely have to fill both tackle spots in free agency. At only 25 years old Conklin would be worth the long-term investment and would fill the biggest position of need on the New York Jets.

Amari Cooper

If Amari Cooper hits the market the New York Jets should be all over him. Very rarely do you see stud number 1 wide receivers hit the market but in this case its very possible Cooper hits the market. With the Cowboys still needing to resign Dak Prescott and other key players Amari Cooper might be the odd man out. In 2016 the New York Jets missed out on signing Allen Robinson in free agency, they would be foolish to make the same mistake again four years later. Signing Amari Cooper gives the Jets their first true number one receiver since Santonio Holmes. Amari Cooper would most likely be paid about 19 million dollars annually if he hit the market, but if the Jets feel they need a proven number one receiver then they will have hit the jackpot with Cooper.

New York Giants Lock up Several Quality Players Ahead of Free Agency

The NFL’s new league year begins on March 13th. That is the day that NFL teams can officially sign free agents and make trades. Until then, teams can only communicate with their own players and impending free agents.

With the new league year coming up, the New York Giants have gotten to work resigning their free agents (or letting them walk for nothing). On Wednesday, the Giants made a few decisions on their exclusive rights free agents.

Aldrick Rosas

One of the Giants’ top in-house free agents this offseason was their kicker, Aldrick Rosas. The Giants officially tendered Rosas on Wednesday. This move brings him back next season at the minimum salary.

This move was a no-brainer for the Giants. Aldrick Rosas was arguably the best kicker in the NFL last season. Rosas had a 97% field goal percentage in 2018, making 32 of his 33 attempts. Aldrick was Pro Football Focus’s highest graded kicker of the season with an 88.7 overall grade.

Week 13 was Rosas’s best game of the season. He won Special Teams Player of the Week. In week 13, Rosas went 3/3 on field goals, including a game-winner in overtime. Aldrick even nailed a 57-yard field goal at the end of the first half, which was a franchise record for the longest field goal in Giants history.

If Rosas can perform like this again in 2019, expect him to get a proper long-term extension next offseason.

Corey Coleman

The Giants signed Corey Coleman back in November after he had been cut by the Buffalo Bills. Coleman has had a tough time staying on a roster. He was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 2016 but played there for only two seasons. He never even made the Bills’ 53 man roster.

Once the Giants signed him, Coleman got limited playing time. He played in 8 games and caught 5 passes for 71 yards. Coleman also fielded 23 kickoffs. He showed the potential to be a great kick returner for the Giants in the future.

According to Ian Rapoport, Corey Coleman showed enough flashes in his short stint to warrant a longer look from the Giants. Along with Rosas and the others, Coleman received his tender on Wednesday worth $2.025 million. The Giants will be hoping to turn Coleman into a legitimate receiving threat in 2019.

Jon Halapio

The Giants’ starting center at the beginning of the season went down with a season-ending injury in week 2.

GM Dave Gettleman has noted on multiple occasions how well Jon Halapio was playing prior to breaking his leg. According to Pro Football Focus, Halapio had the 3rd best pass blocking grade (85.2) from week 1 among centers with at least 50 offensive snaps.

Jon Halapio will likely be the Giants’ starting center in 2019. This is why he received an exclusive rights tender to keep him around for the 2019 NFL season. If Jon Halapio can prove that his 2 weeks of solid play in 2018 were not a fluke, Halapio could potentially play his way into a long-term contract extension in 2019.

Elijhaa Penny

The Giants tendered exclusive rights free agent Elijhaa Penny as well. Penny was the Giants’ fullback in 2018. Penny is a solid receiving fullback who can contribute as a blocker, too.

He was Pro Football Focus‘s 4th highest graded fullback in 2018 with an overall grade of 68.6. He is a versatile fullback who performed well in 2018. Penny could be the fullback for the Giants for years to come if he continues to play at this level.

New York Giants: Why It Is Inexplicable, Inexcusable, and Incompetent To Not Franchise Tag Landon Collins

New York Giants, Landon Collins

On Monday afternoon, teams all around the NFL used their franchise tag on their best impending free agents, except for the New York Giants. The Texans used the non-exclusive franchise tag on Jadeveon Clowney, the Chiefs used the franchise tag on Dee Ford, and the Seahawks used the tag on Frank Clark.

All of these teams used the tag on their best defensive player. The deadline to use the franchise tag is March 5th at 4:00 p.m. A report by Ian Rapoport surfaced on Monday revealing that the New York Giants do not plan on using their franchise tag on their own best defensive player, strong safety Landon Collins.

Now, typically, I write my articles in a very objective way. I do not use the first-person narrative like I am right now, and I do not give my opinion. I usually just present the facts, rumors, and reports, then explain what it means for the Giants.

However, this is a special case. The Giants’ choosing to not use the franchise tag on Landon Collins has set the majority of the fanbase off into a feeling of vicious anger. It has also lead many fans to lose hope in general manager Dave Gettleman. So, allow me to be the voice of the people.

What Is The Franchise Tag?

Franchise tags are tools that allow NFL teams to keep would-be free agents for one year. The player’s guaranteed salary for that one season is attractive — the greater of the average of the top five salaries at his position, or 120 percent of his prior year’s salary — but such a tag provides the player no long-term security.

In 2019, the franchise tag’s price for the safety position is $11,150,000. Apparently, the Giants think that is too pricey for the best player on their defense. This is coming from the general manager who admitted his defense was terrible and vowed to improve it in the offseason.

Letting your best defensive player walk for nothing does not make your team better in any way. If the Giants do not think Collins is that talented of a player, they do not have to sign him to a long-term extension. In fact, it would be wise of them not to if they do not believe in him as a franchise player. But it would be the bare minimum for the Giants to place the franchise tag on Landon Collins.

Explaining The Non-Exclusive Franchise Tag:

There are three types of franchise tags. The non-exclusive franchise tag, the exclusive franchise tag, and the transition tag.

When a player is placed on the non-exclusive franchise tag, they have the opportunity to gain two first-round picks as compensation if the player leaves. The non-exclusive franchise tag allows other teams to make contract offers to Landon Collins and allows the Giants to match these offers if they so desire. If the Giants do not want to match the offer, Collins goes to the team whose offer he accepts and the Giants receive two first-round picks as compensation.

That is just one way for the Giants to receive compensation for Landon Collins. Collins has a reported trade value of a third-round pick. Prior to the 2018 trade deadline, the Giants shopped Collins in hopes of receiving a second-round pick. They were offered a third-round pick but declined the offer.

Why Using A Franchise Tag Is A No-Brainer:

If the Giants did not plan on keeping Landon Collins around in the future, why did they not accept the third-round pick at the trade deadline? What sense is there in letting a star player walk with nothing in return?

It is not too late for the Giants to get something in return for Collins. They could if they wanted to, but they are choosing not to. This is just inexplicable.

If the Giants want to move on from Collins, they should still place the franchise tag on him. When signed to a franchise tag, the Giants have the ability to trade Collins. Without a doubt, a team would trade for him. Offenses were scoring at a record-setting rate in 2018. Everyone is looking for help on defense (except for the Giants, for some reason).

Collins will have a “significant market” if he becomes an unrestricted free agent. Even if Landon did not become an unrestricted free agent, he would still have a huge market. A team would trade for him. The Giants could still get their third-round pick for Collins, which would be a huge addition considering they do not have a third-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Why Landon Collins Is Worth The Salary Cap Number:

Maybe Collins is not deserving of a long-term extension with about $11 million annually. That opinion could be validly argued. But when you look at the rest of the Giants’ roster, I can not figure out why they think this price is too high. Collins is a former all-pro safety. He is the most consistent player on the Giants’ defense. Yet he is not worthy of about $11 million.

However, Gettleman thinks Alec Ogletree is worth being the third-highest paid inside linebacker in the NFL. Gettleman is fine paying Ogletree $11,750,000 in 2019, but he cannot find the money to pay Landon Collins. Alec Ogletree was Pro Football Focus’s 81st ranked linebacker in the NFL in 2018 with an overall grade of 50.7. He was the second lowest graded player on the Giants in 2018, but he will make $11,750,000 next season.

Landon Collins was the third-highest graded player on the Giants’ defense in 2018 with a grade of 70.4. This overall grade is also much higher than the Giants’ highest-paid player in 2019.

Dave Gettleman’s Mismanagement Of The Salary Cap

Eli Manning is set to make $23,200,000 in 2019. He had an overall PFF grade of 64.3 in 2018, making him the 31st ranked quarterback in the NFL. There are only 32 teams in the NFL. Compare this to Collins’s third-highest defensive grade on the Giants, and lack of a contract with the team.

I love Eli Manning as much as the next guy, but Dave Gettleman cannot justify paying Manning that salary and yet whine that the franchise tag price for Collins is too high. Cutting the 38-year-old Eli Manning saves $17 million in cap space. At the very least, the Giants could negotiate Manning into a pay-cut to free some cap space. That is the missing money for Collins.

Believe me when I say this: Eli Manning is my favorite football player of all time and he is the reason I am a Giants fan. But this does not change the fact that his contract is hurting the rest of the Giants. Especially when they refuse to pay star players due to limited cap space.

Eli Manning is a franchise hero. But 21 passing touchdowns does not cut it in today’s NFL. Jerry Reese failed Manning. He was unable to build a solid roster around Eli when he was in his prime. This is a fact, however, that time is gone. Eli is not in his prime anymore. The Giants do not need to pay him like he is in his prime, especially if it means letting talented players walk out the door with nothing in return.

Cutting Eli Manning frees up $17 million. Releasing backup tight end Rhett Ellison frees up $3.25 million. Cutting edge rusher Olivier Vernon frees up $11.5 million. That is $31.75 million freed up right there to put the Giants at roughly $58 million which is more than enough to make moves while franchise tagging Landon Collins.

New York Giants: Why Placing The Franchise Tag On Landon Collins Might Not Be A Bad Idea

Beginning on February 19, NFL teams will be allowed to place franchise tags on pending free agents. According to reports, the New York Giants will be one of the teams to use their franchise tag in this 2019 offseason.

Former all-pro safety Landon Collins is set to become a free agent in 2019. He will come with a high price tag if he hits the open market. However, reports seem to indicate that Landon will not be hitting the open market. The Giants will be placing the franchise tag on Landon Collins and letting him play out the 2019 season.

Some fans may be against this and would like to see Collins receive a long-term extension. While that makes plenty of sense, it makes sense for the Giants to franchise tag Collins, too. There are multiple reasons why the Giants might prefer to franchise tag Collins.

Landon’s Regression Since 2016

In 2016, Landon Collins was arguably the best safety in the NFL. He was a strong candidate for NFL AP Defensive Player of the Year. Collins posted a career high 5 interceptions and 13 passes defended that season while also being a force in run defense. He totaled an incredible 125 tackles with 9 tackles for loss. Landon even had 4 sacks in 2016. He was an unstoppable force on defense for the Giants in 2016.

Since then, things have been shaky for Landon. It could be argued that the reason for this is the Giants’ lack of talent at free safety. However, it cannot be denied that Landon has not been the same as his 2016-self in the past two seasons.

In 2017, the Giants were terrible. They went 3-13 and fired the entire coaching staff. Landon Collins was not awful that season, but he definitely took a step back from his dominance in 2016. Collins only had 2 interceptions in 2017. In addition, his tackle total dropped to 99 with only 3 tackles for loss. Collins did not record a sack in 2017, either.

However, Collins still flashed his raw talent in 2017. It is difficult to succeed at safety when Eli Apple is letting people run by him in coverage and you are not getting much help from a mediocre Darian Thompson. Collins was not as good in coverage, but he was still scary for runners to see in the open field.

https://twitter.com/inthestandspc/status/922204518812651521

With the addition of new defensive coordinator James Bettcher in 2018, the Giants were hopeful Collins would return to his 2016 production. Unfortunately, what the Giants got was a bit closer to the 2017 version of Landon Collins. In 12 games in 2018, Landon did not have an interception. He did have 4 passes defended though, and was still great in run defense. He had 96 tackles and 5 tackles for loss.

Unfortunately, the most concerning aspect of his 2018 season was his second time being placed on injured reserve.

Landon’s Recent Injury History

One common theme for Collins in 2017 and 2018 is an unfortunate ending to his season. In both seasons, Landon suffered an injury toward the end of the year, ending his season with surgery. Week 16 of the 2017 season, Collins suffered a broken forearm. In 2018, it was a tear in his shoulder.

Injuries could be a cause for concern for Dave Gettleman and the Giants. The Giants will not want to invest a lot of money into a player if they do not think he will be able to stay on the field. When Landon was fully healthy in 2016, he was an all-pro.

The Giants will be looking to see if Landon Collins can remain healthy in 2019 under the franchise tag. If he can do that, and keep a high-level of play, he could earn himself an extension.

Seeing Collins Perform With Talent Around Him

Before committing to Landon Collins long-term, the Giants might want to see him play out one more season. Seeing him play with more talent around him might convince the Giants he is worthy of a new contract.

Collins has not really had a fair shot with safeties like Curtis Riley lining up opposite of him. The Giants could pair Landon with a competent free safety in the 2019 offseason. Doing this might elevate Landon’s play and possibly help him surpass his 2016 season.

New York Giants: Potential Pass Rushing Targets In The 2019 Free Agent Class

New York Giants, Ezekiel Ansah

The New York Giants have been a consistently poor pass rushing team in recent years. In 2017, the Giants had only 27 sacks. In 2018, they improved slightly to 30 sacks. This ranked 31st in the NFL in 2018. The Giants have are 8-24 in the last two seasons, and the lack of pass rush is a big reason why. In order to win more games in the future, the Giants will need to get better at rushing the passer.

Free Agents:

Luckily for the Giants, the 2019 free agent class is full of quality pass rushers. There are plenty of good edge rushers set to hit the open market this offseason, as well as interior pass rushers. Three edge defenders the Giants should pay attention to in free agency are Shaquil Barrett, Ezekiel Ansah, and Za’Darius Smith.

Shaquil Barrett was listed on Pro Football Focus as one of the top ten under the radar free agents in 2019. Barrett has had a rocky career in Denver. He became a starter in 2017 and proved to be an above-average pass rusher with a 79.4 pass-rushing grade, but the Broncos then drafted his replacement in 2018 with Bradley Chubb. Barrett recorded 43 pressures in 2017.

In 2018, Barrett only played 276 snaps and mustered out three sacks in his limited playing time. Shaquil has never gotten a fair chance to be a starter in the NFL, but he has a lot of potential. Barrett said recently that he wants to be a starter, hinting he will leave in free agency this offseason. This talented pass rusher is only 26 years old, meaning he has a lot of time to progress as a player. His lack of experience could make him a cheap option in free agency, with an estimated market value of $7.4 million annually. The Giants should consider taking a chance on Shaquil Barrett.

Ezekiel Ansah is high end free agent who will cost a lot more than Barrett if the Giants want to sign him. Ansah has an estimated market value of $13.2 million annually. Ezekiel was drafted by the Lions in 2013 and has since established himself as a top pass rusher in the NFL, when healthy.

Unfortunately, the 30 year old has been dealing with an injury for a while now, ending up on injured reserve in 2018. Ansah is aging and the Lions are looking to get younger. In 2017, Ansah was healthy and recorded a high total of 12 sacks. Whatever team signs him this offseason will be hoping to get 2017 production out of Ansah in the future.

Finally, the Ravens’ young edge defender Za’Darius Smith will be looking for a pay day in 2019. Since it is such a deep free agents class of edge defenders, Za’Darius will probably be an affordable player on the market. He too was listed as one of Pro Football Focus’ top ten under the radar free agents, coming in at number one. Smith only started 8 games this season, but he racked up 8.5 sacks. On top of that, Smith totaled 60 pressures. If the Giants can get a good deal on the 26 year old Za’Darius Smith, he could be a solid defensive building block for years to come.

Other big name players have expiring contracts this offseason but are not expected to depart from their current teams. Players such as Demarcus Lawrence, Dee Ford, and Jadeveon Clowney are likely to receive the franchise tag. However, if they do not receive the franchise tag, they will be superstar players with big markets in free agency, and the Giants should be a part of their markets.