Former New York Giants Pass Rusher Claims New Team Has A Plan

New York Giants, Olivier Vernon

The New York Giants made a lot of moves this offseason, some of them good and some of them bad, and one of the most publicized was the trade that sent outside linebacker Olivier Vernon to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for offensive guard Kevin Zeitler. The Giants are looked at by many as having won the trade – after all, Vernon had few fans in New York by the time he was sent to Cleveland, stemming from his slow returns from injury and his underperformance once on the field.

It doesn’t look like there’s any regrets, though, from Vernon himself, who was soon joined in Cleveland by fellow Giant Odell Beckham Jr. after a second deal was made not long after the first.

“They know what I bring to the table. They say you’re going to get what you paid for, so they’re going to get what you traded for,” Vernon said about his new organization, according to Cleveland.com. And when the team made the move to bring in Vernon’s teammate Beckham, he came to believe that the Browns have something that a lot of fans have accused the Giants of botching: a plan.

“OK, all right, they’ve got a plan,” Vernon said of the Browns. “You feel it from the coaches, you feel it from the front office. Dorsey, he’s got a plan. I spoke to him a few times, and I just like what I heard from him as far as his vision. It’s been a lot of rough years for the Browns. It can only last so long. All we’ve got to do right now, we’ve got the plan set up, we’ve just got to execute it.”

Browns GM John Dorsey is definitely rated higher than the Giants’ Dave Gettleman, with Dorsey turning his team into one that is expected to contend for the AFC after joining them in 2017. Gettleman, on the other hand, joined the Giants one year later but fans are still waiting for the signs that things will indeed get better rather than worse over the next few years.

Of course, Dorsey might have made one mistake recently by valuing Vernon highly enough to trade one of the team’s top lienemen for him. Vernon did finish last season with seven sacks, but was late in getting onto the field and only played in eleven games because of a slow time recovering from injury. Vernon, who is considered at this point to be an injury prone player, had his second worst season ever in terms of total tackles, finishing with only 30.

That’s less than half the amount Vernon had in 2016, the year when he registered 8.5 sacks and the Giants made it into the playoffs most recently, partly because of a strong defense.

Dorsey may indeed have a stronger plan than Gettleman, but it will be no surprise if Vernon’s participation in that plan ends up being underwhelming, based on his performances in the last two years and the way things ended in New York for the pass rusher.

New York Giants: Olivier Vernon’s Replacement Could Already Be On The Roster

New York Giants, Lorenzo Carter

On Friday, the New York Giants made a big-time trade. The Giants traded edge defender Olivier Vernon to the Browns in exchange for guard Kevin Zeitler. The trade was a win-win for both teams.

The Giants made a major upgrade on their offensive line in this trade. However, the trade also left another giant hole in Big Blue’s defense. Many fans and analysts have been predicting who they think the Giants will sign or draft in order to replace Olivier Vernon.

The Giants will likely sign someone, but there is a talented, young player already on the Giants that most people seem to be forgetting about. In the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Giants selected Lorenzo Carter.

Why Lorenzo Carter Might Breakout In 2019

Lorenzo Carter was a mid-round steal for the Giants in last year’s draft. He was tremendously talented, but he was also a raw prospect that needed time to develop. With his rookie season under his belt, Carter is primed to breakout in his sophomore season.

In his rookie season, Lorenzo showed a lot of potential. His play was limited because the Giants had Vernon, but in 2019, Carter should see more playing time. Carter only started in 2 games in 2018, but he played in 15.

Through those 15 games, Carter totaled 43 tackles and 7 tackles for loss. Carter was also good rushing the passer with 4 sacks and 10 quarterback hits. Considering his minimal playing time, Lorenzo Carter was highly efficient.

According to Pro Football Focus, Lorenzo Carter finished with an overall grade of 65.8. This grade ranked Carter as the 58th edge defender in the NFL, which is not bad for a rookie. On top of that, Carter’s grade was top 5 at his position amongst all rookies in 2018. Carter has the potential to surpass first and second round players with an expanded role in 2019.

Check out some Lorenzo Carter highlights below:

Athletic is an understatement when discussing Lorenzo Carter. He is a super-freak. At last year’s NFL Combine, Carter ran a speedy 4.50 forty-yard dash. That was the second fastest time out of all edge defenders in last year’s draft class.

Fans should not forget about Lorenzo Carter when discussing the Giants’ options on defense. Carter was one of the most hyped mid-round rookies heading into the 2018 season. He deserves even more hype in 2019.

After showing promise in 2018, Carter will have more opportunities in 2019. If he is able to capitalize on these opportunities, Carter will secure the starting edge job for the Giants. Carter, with a bit more consistency, could progress into an elite speed rusher.

New York Giants: Why New Guard Kevin Zeitler Is A Tremendous Acquisition

New York Giants, Kevin Zeitler

As New York Giants fans know, general manager Dave Gettleman loves his “hog mollies.” On Friday, the Giants made a major trade. The Giants traded edge rusher Olivier Vernon to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for one of the NFL’s top offensive guards.

That hog molly was right guard Kevin Zeitler. The Browns were reportedly shopping Zeitler earlier in the week and even tried to send him to the Giants in exchange for Odell Beckham Jr. However, the Giants laughed at that offer and completed a much better trade on Friday.

What Makes Zeitler Such A Huge Upgrade?

Kevin Zeitler has been impressively durable and consistent. These are two traits the Giants have not seen from their most recent offensive guards for a few years now. Zeitler has started 72 straight games and has not missed a snap since week 13 of the 2015 NFL season.

On top of all this, Zeitler is arguably the best pass-blocking guard in the entire NFL. He finished with the league’s highest pass blocking grade (91.7) out of any guard in 2018 according to Pro Football Focus.

To compare Zeitler’s efficient play to that of the Giants’ 2018 offensive line: Zeitler let up 11 pressures all season while Jamon Brown and Patrick Omameh let up a combined 39. That is 28 plays that the Giants missed out on as Eli Manning was milliseconds from being smothered by a gargantuan defensive lineman.

Things should change now with Kevin Zeitler in the mix. His efficient pass-blocking will give Eli Manning more time to read the field.

Eli will not be the only one benefiting from this trade. Running back Saquon Barkley will benefit from playing behind Kevin Zeitler, too. While pass-blocking is his specialty, Zeitler is not a poor run-blocker.

Overall, Zeitler is an improvement on the Giants’ offensive line in every way possible. He is more durable than any other right guard and much more efficient in pass protection.

Rising star Will Hernandez will be looking to make progress in his second season. Expect the Giants to have one of the NFL’s best guard duos in 2019 with Will Hernandez and Kevin Zeitler.

Check out this highlight of Kevin Zeitler below:

New York Giants Reportedly Leaning Towards Keeping Olivier Vernon

There’s some bad news for fans that were hoping the New York Giants would move on from edge rusher Olivier Vernon, who has one of the largest cap hits on the team despite performing poorly compared to other players making the same thing at similar positions. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the team is leaning towards bringing Vernon back for another year and not making a move to offload him.

That will, of course, not be the most popular move because of the way the Giants cap situation looks right now. Vernon is the third highest paid player on the team and has a larger cap hit than last season’s big name acquisition, Nate Solder, or more productive players such as Alec Ogletree and Janoris Jenkins.

However, the Giants may be keeping Vernon despite the high cost because even if Vernon were traded or released, the Giants would be left with $8M in dead money from his contract. That is, the Giants would still take the $8M cap hit even if Vernon isn’t on the team. Another factor might be that other teams are likely wary of Vernon following a lackluster last season, making it harder to find a potential trade partner.

Vernon’s 30 tackles last season is down from 37 the year before, which in itself is a downgrade from 64 in 2016, which was Vernon’s debut season in New York and also the best of his three seasons as a Giant. 2016 was also the best year of Vernon’s overall career in terms of tackles, but that production hasn’t been matched since.

Another factor is that it looks unlikely that the team will take a pass rusher with their first draft pick instead of a quarterback. That makes replacing Vernon through the draft harder, although that fact doesn’t make a potential move to keep Vernon any more popular.

There’s plenty of fans who would rather look for a cheaper replacement in free agency, but if the Giants don’t go that route, we’ll all just have to hope that Dave Gettleman is able to see something in Vernon that everyone else is missing.

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: Should The Giants Trade For Chiefs’ Pass Rusher Dee Ford?

Beginning on February 19, NFL teams were officially allowed to apply the franchise and transition tags to impending free agents. The New York Giants have yet to place a tag on safety Landon Collins, but a few other teams have used their tags. The deadline to use the franchise tag is Tuesday, March 5th.

The Kansas City Chiefs officially placed the franchise tag on edge defender Dee Ford on Saturday, March 2nd. However, the Chiefs will be listening to trade offers for Ford. The Chiefs recently made a change in their defensive scheme, which is why they are willing to trade Ford.

Highlights From Dee Ford’s 2018 Season

Dee Ford is a 3-4 edge defender. He is a stand-up outside linebacker that is great at rushing the passer. In 2018, Ford had 13 sacks, 7 forced fumbles, and 55 tackles. He was Pro Football Focus’s 11th ranked edge defender with an overall grade of 87.7. He even earned PFF’s number 1 ranked pass-rush grade in 2018 with a grade of 91.0.

Why The Giants Might Want To Trade For Dee Ford

With the Giants having the 2nd least total sacks in the league in 2018, Ford could be a big upgrade off the edge. The Giants are reportedly shopping Pro Bowl edge rusher Olivier Vernon. If the Giants do not find a trade partner, they could cut Vernon to free up a large amount of cap space.

Regardless of wether the Giants trade or cut Vernon, they will still have a massive hole to fill at the edge position. Dee Ford could fill that hole.

Olivier Vernon was good in 2018, but has been inconsistent during his entire career with the Giants. In 3 seasons with the Giants, Vernon never reached 10 sacks in a single season. He has only done this once in his career. He had 11.5 sacks with the Dolphins in 2013. Ford has reached 10 sacks twice in his career. He had 13 in 2018 and 10 in 2016.

Former Giants general manager Jerry Reese signed Olivier Vernon to a massive contract back in 2016. Current Giants general manager Dave Gettleman inherited Vernon and his gargantuan contract last offseason. With Vernon not playing up to his contract, it makes sense Gettleman is considering moving on from the veteran.

An interesting scenario that could take place is a Vernon for Ford trade. Olivier Vernon played under the Chiefs’ current defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo when he was with the Giants. Spags helped Vernon have a career-year in 2016. This might lead the Chiefs to have a lot of interest in Vernon.

Vernon could go back to being a 4-3 defensive end for the Chiefs, while Dee Ford could continue his career as a 3-4 outside linebacker with the Giants. It would be a high-risk, high-reward trade for both teams. But if Spagnuolo can get the best out of Vernon in Kansas City, and Dee Ford can continue to progress his talents in New York, both teams could walk away from this trade very happy.

Why Dee Ford Is A Risky Player To Trade For

Dee Ford did have PFF’s highest pass-rush grade in 2018, but that grade came out of no where. In Ford’s first four seasons in the NFL, he was nowhere near as good as he was in his fifth season. Dee has been wildly inconsistent throughout his career.

In 2017, Ford dealt with a back injury. This forced him to play in only 6 games and total a measly 2 sacks. It took Ford 5 years to finally hit a real stride, then, once he did, his defensive coordinator was gone. Maybe a change of scenery will bode well for Dee. Or maybe he will regress back to his previous playing talent.

If the Giants trade for Ford, they will be hoping to progress his talents. The Giants have lacked a serious pass-rushing threat for years now. If Giants defensive coordinator James Bettcher can figure out a way to elevate Dee Ford’s talents, trading for him could be a brilliant move.

New York Giants: Olivier Vernon Trade Rumors Take A Step Up

New York Giants, Olivier Vernon

There’s been a lot of speculation that the New York Giants could move on from pass rusher Olivier Vernon, but that speculation is starting to turn into actual rumors from sources who are around the team. Mike Garafolo reported on Friday that the team is looking at options for a trade, which considering Vernon’s large contract, makes quite a lot of sense at this point.

Vernon has the third highest cap hit on the team for 2019, but the large number hasn’t matched the amount of production that the team has gotten out of Vernon recently. Vernon has had trouble staying healthy and only played 11 games last season, finishing with only 30 tackles. It’s a drop from 37 tackles last season, and while 7 sacks wouldn’t be a terrible number for some players, the Giants roughly ended up paying $2.4M for each one of those sacks based on Vernon’s cap hit for the season.

After all, the Giants are also paying Vernon an amount that would be on par with players such as Jadeveon Clowney, who offer more production. There’s even players such as Dee Ford, who had an $8.7M cap hit but registered 13 sacks for the Kansas City Chiefs during the 2018 season. Of course, Ford was recently franchise tagged and will make more money this season, but last year’s numbers show the disconnect in production and salary for Olivier Vernon.

The current rumors, however, don’t include a specific team that would be interested in trading for Vernon. There’s a few teams in need of pass rushers, but it looks like Vernon’s value will be down right now, and it remains to be seen whether or not the Giants will be able to make a deal before the NFL Draft happens and the teams needing players at the position acquire them that way.

But right now, it really looks like Vernon could be off the team by the time next season rolls around, something that would have been a surprise a couple of years ago.

New York Giants: Safety/Special Teamer Michael Thomas To Play In Pro Bowl

The NFC and AFC Conference Championship games took place this past weekend, setting the matchup for Super Bowl 53. With the Rams and Patriots set to face off in the Super Bowl, their players will not be able to play in the 2019 Pro Bowl. Because of this, alternate players will take their place. One of those alternates is the New York Giants‘ own Michael Thomas.

Highlights From Michael Thomas’s 2018 Season

Michael Thomas will be participating in the Pro Bowl as a special teamer. He is replacing the Los Angles Rams’ special teamer Cory Littleton. Littleton will be playing in Super Bowl LIII, so he cannot participate in the Pro Bowl.

Michael Thomas is a player that new GM Dave Gettleman signed in the 2018 offseason. Thomas spent his previous five seasons with the Miami Dolphins. Michael was Pro Football Focus’s Special Teams Player of the Year in 2017. He came to the Giants to don a captain’s patch and be the leader of the special teams unit.

Michael Thomas spent 2018 making key tackles on returns and downing punts near the goal line for the Giants. However, Thomas’s excellent play was not limited to just special teams.

Serving as a rotational defensive back, and filling in at safety for the injured Landon Collins, Michael Thomas played quality snaps on defense in 2018. Thomas totaled 58 tackles, a forced fumble, and a sack in 2018. In coverage, Michael Thomas was disruptive. He had 6 passes defended and two interceptions for the Giants this season.

The Giants now have four players set to play in the Pro Bowl in 2018. Michael Thomas will join kicker Aldrick Rosas, edge defender Olivier Vernon, and running back Saquon Barkley in Orlando on Sunday.

New York Giants: Olivier Vernon To Play In The Pro Bowl As An Alternate

New York Giants, Olivier Vernon

The NFL announced the 2018 Pro Bowl rosters last month and three New York Giants were selected as starters. Saquon Barkley, Landon Collins, and Aldrick Rosas were voted to be starters.

Collins will be unable to participate due to injury, so the Giants were without a starter on defense in the Pro Bowl. That was until Khalil Mack of the Chicago Bears informed the league he will be unable to participate due to injury. A New York Giants pass rusher by the name of Olivier Vernon will start in Mack’s place.

Highlights From Olivier Vernon’s 2018 Season

Olivier Vernon dealt with injuries at the beginning of the season. He missed the first five games of the year with an ankle injury. However, when Vernon got on the field, he was the Giants’ best pass rusher.

Vernon finished the season with 7 sacks and 30 combined tackles in 11 games. He also added a forced fumble, five tackles for loss, and 21 quarterback hits. Vernon did not total a lot of sacks, but he did total a high number of quarterback pressures. Pro Football Focus gave Vernon a well above-average grade of 86.3, making him the 14th ranked edge defender in the NFL in 2018.

https://twitter.com/DLineVids/status/1050633139729588224

Olivier Vernon Controversy

Being voted in as an alternate was a bit of a head-scratcher for Giants fans. Giants fans have been very critical of Vernon over the past two seasons. He has lacked top dollar productivity despite having a cap hit of $16 million. On top of that, Vernon has not been on the field enough to make a serious and consistent impact. He has missed nine games in the last two seasons, making Giants fans wonder what the team is paying for. The answer is that they are paying for an edge defender who will consistently pressure the quarterback. The issue is that he usually does not finish the play. A combined 13.5 sacks in the past 23 games is not worth $16 million in the eyes of Giants Nation.

Despite all this, Vernon is a Pro Bowler. Luckily for the Giants fans who want to see Vernon off the team next season, Vernon’s Pro Bowl nod makes that even more of a possibility. Fans vote for the Pro Bowl rosters, but so do players and coaches. Vernon making the Pro Bowl in 2018 shows that he has the respect of many players and coaches around the league. This should greatly boost his trade value and make it easier to move on from the edge rusher in 2019.

New York Giants Looking At Former Jets DC To Help Olivier Vernon

New York Giants, Olivier Vernon

The New York Jets and the New York Giants are typically considered city rivals, but that doesn’t mean moves between the two can’t happen. According to NFL Network, the Giants have interviewed Kacy Rodgers, who served as the defensive coordinator for the New York Jets from 2015 to 2018.

The move is being immediately linked to Olivier Vernon, who Rodgers has experience with because of their shared time with the Miami Dolphins. With Vernon underperforming last season and struggling both on the field and with injuries, many Giants fans have wondered if it’s worth keeping him around at a large cost at all, so an addition to the staff meant to help Vernon could potentially offer large benefits.

But the Giants already have a defensive coordinator, and there’s no signs that James Bettcher is going anywhere after one season. Supposedly, Rodgers would have a “senior” role on the defensive staff without being the actual defensive coordinator. What that role would actually be is something that remains to be seen, but Rodgers has past experience as a defensive line coach in Miami and with various other teams, as well as a stint as the defensive tackles coach in Dallas.

The Jets had the 25th ranked defense in the league based on opponent yards allowed last season, which was only one spot below the 24th ranked Giants. The Jets defense wasn’t an impressive one, and that’s probably the reason why Rodgers isn’t being looked at as a defensive coordinator. However, it seems like the Giants’ interest in him is mainly based in his defensive line coaching and his past experience working with Olivier Vernon.

Vernon only played in 11 games this season and registered 30 tackles, a far cry from his 60 tackles in 2016. Whether or not the possible hiring of one of his former coaches will help that number to improve during the 2019 season, if Vernon is even on the team at that point, remains to be seen. If it does, however, it looks like a very smart move on the part of the Giants to help an area of need.