- Offseason issues for the New York Giants to address
- Key decisions to make in free agency and draft
- Previewing the Giants’ offseason
The New York Giants won’t win the NFC East until franchise stars quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley prove they can stay healthy. Barkley missed almost the entire 2020 NFL season, while Jones started only 14 games and missed time in two of those.
Even when they’re healthy, Jones and Barkley need more weapons around them. The Giants’ offense is short of an elite wide receiver. A lack of big plays is also a problem for a capable defense missing a standout edge-rusher.
Fixing these issues won’t be easy for general manager Dave Gettleman. The Giants are projected to have a mere $906,453 worth of cap space.
Bring back Williams
Williams has revived his career since being traded from the Jets. He’s finally unleashed the power and athleticism that made him a game-wrecker at USC.
Now No. 99 is the one player the Giants can count on to generate pressure.
Leonard Williams has won my heart pic.twitter.com/G0YgqIr8eE
— Alex Wilson (@AlexWilsonESM) December 7, 2020
Bringing Williams back will be a tough needle to thread for Gettleman. A D-tackle with double-digit sacks can set his own value on the veteran market.
The Giants tagged Williams in 2020 but need a long-term solution this time. Fortunately, steps are already being taken, according to Paul Schwartz of the New York Post:
The wheels are already turning, as far as getting the 26-year-old defensive tackle signed to a long-term contract extension. The Giants have been prepared for this, realizing it will be a case of “shame on us’’ if they had not already anticipated and allocated the money to secure Williams for years to come. They would like to come to an agreement so Williams is already off the open market when free agency begins in mid-March.
Securing Williams’ future for the long haul is the best move Gettleman can make this offseason. Losing him would weaken what has become the strength of the team, a massive three-man line also featuring Dexter Lawrence and would-be free agent Dalvin Tomlinson.
If it comes to it, the Giants should let nose tackle Tomlinson walk. Prolific interior pass-rushers like Williams are harder to find.
Find a bargain edge-rusher
Not having major free-agency bucks doesn’t mean the Giants can’t solve their pass rush problem. This year’s market is loaded with bargain edge-rushers who’d be perfect fits for the Giants’ scheme.
Big Blue has an advantage thanks to defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. He’s from the Bill Belichick, New England Patriots school of defense. The theory is based more on scheming pressure rather than relying on bluechip talents to bring the heat.
A good example there of how the Giants need to create pressure. Using Tae Crowder on a stunt. Patrick Graham working wonders so far this season.
— Jordan Raanan (@JordanRaanan) December 6, 2020
Calhoun logged just two sacks in 2020, but he fits the Graham blueprint, big, versatile, and able to handle multiple responsibilities.
Shilique Calhoun BOOM pic.twitter.com/lIhkyONTNb
— Zack Cox (@ZackCoxNESN) October 5, 2020
Wise does most of his work from the inside, but he can also line up outside. This is a system based on moving parts and disguise, so the subterfuge has to start among the front seven.
It’s tough to see the Giants as serious players for Von Miller, Jadeveon Clowney, Leonard Floyd, or Shaquil Barrett. Gettleman should focus on players like Calhoun, Samson Ebukam of the Los Angeles Rams, or Washington Football Team franchise sack leader Ryan Kerrigan.
Add talent at WR
Tight end Evan Engram stayed healthy long enough to make the Pro Bowl, but he got precious little help from the rest of New York’s receiving corps.
Darius Slayton led all Giants’ wideouts in yards, with a paltry 751. Sterling Shephard was the receptions leader with 66.
More big-play potential is needed at the position, and the Giants’ best bet of finding will be via the 2020 NFL draft. A lot of mocks have Gettleman taking Miami pass-rusher Gregory Rousseau off the board with the 11th-overall pick, but there are a few receivers who should appeal more.
Alabama pair Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith offer different skill sets. Waddle is a yards-after-catch specialist, while Heisman Trophy winner Smith is more versatile and wins out of his break.
Highest career yards per route in the 2021 draft class (min 100 targets):
3.57 Jaylen Waddle
3.12 Ja’Marr Chase
3.10 DeVonta Smith pic.twitter.com/UUixQx0lk1
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) February 18, 2021
Drafting either one would add the go-to target Jones needs to further his development and lead an offense capable of complementing Graham’s unit.