New York Giants could add veteran CB2 in free agency

xavier rhodes, New York Giants

The New York Giants are making it a point of emphasis to upgrade their offense this offseason. New York’s offense was pitiful in 2020, averaging a putrid 17.5 points per game (second-worst in NFL). The strength of the Giants’ roster is their defense. However, there is room for improvement on that side of the ball, too.

The Giants’ defense has a couple more holes to fill before it establishes itself as one of the best units in the NFL. One area of weakness is in the Giants’ otherwise strong secondary. New York’s secondary features a formidable safety trio of Jabrill Peppers, Logan Ryan, and Xavier McKinney. Their number one cornerback James Bradberry is also dominant in his own right. But opposite of Bradberry is a weaker link.

The Giants’ secondary cornerback position was an inconsistent, revolving-door of players all year round. New York started the likes of Cory Ballentine, Ryan Lewis, Isaac Yiadom, and Julian Love at that position, with no one truly standing out as a competent starter on the outside. With the Giants likely to target an offensive player in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, one avenue they could take to improve their cornerback position is through the mean of a veteran in free agency.

Free agent cornerbacks

The New York Giants are going to be balling on a budget in the 2021 offseason. New York is already a few million dollars over the salary cap. They will make plenty of cuts, though, to get under the cap ahead of free agency. But this will still likely lead the Giants to shop in the bargain bin for some positions.

One position that the Giants could go a cheaper route with is cornerback two. If New York spends a lot in free agency, it will likely be on a wide receiver. There are plenty of cheaper, veteran cornerbacks for the Giants to choose from, though.

Joe Haden

The Pittsburgh Steelers are in a cap pinch and are very likely to move on from veteran cornerback Joe Haden this offseason. Haden is an eleven-year NFL veteran. He spent his last four seasons with the Steelers after starting his career in Cleveland with the Browns.

Despite being 31 years old, Haden is still a really solid starting cornerback. He is only one year removed from his 2019 Pro Bowl appearance in a season where he racked up 5 interceptions, 17 passes defended, and 65 combined tackles. He followed that up with another respectable season in 2020. This past year, Haden snagged 2 interceptions, defended 12 passes, and combined a total of 52 tackles in 14 games.

Signing Joe Haden would bring stability to the Giants’ second cornerback position. Haden would be a more expensive signing than some other options, but given his age and slight regression in performance, the Giants should be able to sign Joe Haden to an affordable contract if they want to.

Xavier Rhodes

Xavier Rhodes is another veteran cornerback whose team might not be able to afford him in 2021. Rhodes signed with the Indianapolis Colts last offseason after seven years with the Minnesota Vikings. The end of Rhodes’s time in Minnestoa saw him regress from being one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL to about league average. But a change of scenery in 2020 seems to have revitalized Xavier’s career.

Xavier Rhodes recorded 2 interceptions in 2020 with 12 passes defended and 42 combined tackles. His interception and passes defended totals were his best since his 2017 All-Pro season. The Giants could consider Xavier Rhodes opposite of James Bradberry once he hits free agency. According to Spotrac, Xavier Rhodes’s projected market value is around $7 million, making him an affordable option for New York.

New York Giants: 3 cornerbacks to consider in free agency to fill void CB2 spot

xavier rhodes, New York Giants

The New York Giants revamped their secondary from 2019 to 2020. They brought in a bunch of new faces this past offseason, signing Logan Ryan and James Bradberry, and the Giants drafted Xavier McKinney in the second-round.

Their secondary was the fifth-worst pass defense in 2019. They allowed 264.1 passing yards per game in 2019, but in 2020, only allowed 237.9 passing yards per game. The Giants were in the middle of the pack for best pass defense, coming in at 16th.

Safety’s Logan Ryan, Jabrill Peppers, and Xavier McKinney are the future, and Bradberry island is a real thing. The G-Men just need another cornerback to go alongside Bradberry.

Here are three free agents the Giants should consider in free agency:

Xavier Rhodes

Xavier Rhodes was one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL this past season, but in 2017-2019, he struggled. The Minnesota Vikings decided to part ways with Rhodes this past offseason. Rhodes signed a one-year, $3,250,000 million deal with the Indianapolis Colts.

Rhodes recorded 42 tackles, 12 pass defends, and two interceptions this past season. With these solid stats, Rhodes could earn himself a pay increase but not too much where it will be out of the Giants’ price range.

If the Giants could find some money to give to Rhodes and if the secondary could repeat what they did this past season, this could easily be one of the best secondaries in 2021.

Jason McCourty

Will Logan Ryan recruit Jason McCourty to New York? The New York native just finished up his two-year deal with the New England Patriots — could McCourty team up with Joe Judge down in New York to finish his career?

McCourty has been a versatile cornerback who has played as an above-average outside cornerback for almost his entire career. McCourty has 723 career tackles, 106 pass defends, and 18 interceptions, and a Super Bowl Ring with Judge.

If McCourty wants to come to New York and leave his twin brother, the Giants have the capital to bring him in. He will have an opportunity to play alongside a Pro Bowl cornerback in Bradberry if he wants to.

Ross Cockrell

It seems like Ross Cockrell’s name is always in talks to come back to New York. With the Giants now having a better all-around team and an excellent secondary, he could come in and compete for the starting job on the outside.

Cockrell is currently on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; they are on their way to go play in the NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers. With the Buccaneers stud cornerbacks, Cockrell has seen the least amount of playing time since his rookie season. Starting only two games and only recorded two pass breakups.

Cockrell only got a one-year deal with the Buccaneers for less than a million. But I will speak for all Giants fans here, we do not want another Cockrell fake signing again. Cockrell backed out of a deal this past offseason.

Could The New York Giants Target This Veteran Cornerback In Free Agency?

New York Giants, Dave Gettleman

NFL free agency is set to begin soon, and as such, much of the narrative around the New York Giants right now revolves around which players they might sign in free agency and which ones are out of their grasp. There’s a lot of positions that need improvement and only so much cap space and draft picks to work with, which will force the team to prioritize where they want to invest the most heavily in.

Cornerback is one position that should get significant attention during this offseason. Poor play at cornerback and in the secondary in general made the entire defense play worse last season, with several games being decided by small margins – in these games, the results could have generally been different with a couple more big plays from the secondary.

The Giants currently don’t have a true leader of the secondary after the departure of the controversial Janoris Jenkins last season, and acquiring a new one may be on their list of offseason goals. If so, there’s one recently released player that they should take a close look at: Xavier Rhodes.

Rhodes was just released from the Vikings, after 104 games for the team and a career with them that saw him make the Pro Bowl as well as the All-Pro team. He had a poor season last year but his previous performances are enough to warrant a look anyway. The Giants had success last year with Markus Golden, after all, who they picked up despite a recent slump only to benefit from the player making a return to form.

The 29 year old Rhodes is still young enough to have a bounce back season in him and may not be as expensive as a premium player thanks to his drop off in play which resulted in him being released – he was also still good enough to make the Pro Bowl and his drop off wasn’t necessarily a dramatic one. While Rhodes had no interceptions, his combined tackles went up and his passes defended only dropped by one compared to the 2018 season.

The real comparison that needs to be made isn’t between 2019 and 2018, but 2019 and 2017, when Rhodes was an All-Pro… Back in 2017, he had one interception and 10 passes defended compared to 6. But the gap isn’t that dramatic.

Rhodes hasn’t exactly fallen off a cliff and because of that, he looks like a possible target for the Giants, who need help at the position badly after finding out last season what the outcome of putting a leading role on the then-rookie DeAndre Baker is. It remains to be seen how much Rhodes wants in free agency, but a move is at least one the Giants should consider.