Super Bowl LV is a few weeks away. While the four remaining NFL teams play to determine the AFC and NFC representatives in the big game, the New York Giants face a challenging off-season. After year one of the Joe Judge era, the Giants seemingly found their new leader. The former special teams coach for the New England Patriots installed a culture of toughness and accountability that paid dividends. Big Blue showed some improvement but finished 6-10, their fourth consecutive losing season. In order for the organization to take the next step forward, the New York Giants must make at least three moves this off-season.
New York Giants Off-season Preview
Giants Off-season Moves Begin With Number One Receiver
By Week 2 of this season, the New York Giants offense lacked enough playmakers to be a winning team. Running back Saquon Barkley tore his ACL and injured his meniscus in a game against the Chicago Bears. The Giants’ lack of a game-breaking receiver was exposed after the Barkley injury. The trio of Golden Tate, Sterling Shepard, and Darius Slayton played inconsistently all year and do not scare opposing defenses. It’s expected the Giants will move on from Golden Tate. But the combination of Shepard and Slayton will not be enough next season. Big Blue must acquire a legitimate number one receiver for the team to thrive. With approximately $12.6 million of effective cap space, what are the team’s options?
Sign Kenny Golladay
After a breakout season in 2019-20 with over 1,000 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns, Kenny Golladay had an injury-plagued fourth year for the Detroit Lions. But it’s hard to argue that when healthy, Golladay isn’t one of the best receiving threats in the league. Pro Football Focus (PFF) ranks Golladay as the fourth-best free agent this off-season. They wrote, “Golladay has the size and athleticism required to be a big target on the outside, along with that contested-catch prowess.” “But he also possesses enough nuance in his route running to function well in any system.” Golladay would immediately become a deep threat on the outside Daniel Jones needs to succeed.
The Lions are a team in flux. Theoretically, they may decide to move on from both quarterback Matthew Stafford and their number one receiver. PFF predicts the Golladay contract terms could be “four years, $85 million ($21.25M APY)… $37.5 million fully guaranteed.” Obviously, the Giants will need to shed payroll and restructure some contracts before signing the Pro Bowl receiver. If Golladay’s salary demands are too high for Big Blue, another option to consider is Corey Davis of the Tennessee Titans.
Davis is the fifth-ranked free-agent wide receiver on the market and a legitimate big-play threat. He had 65 receptions for nearly 1,000 yards and averaged 15.1 yards per catch for an AFC playoff team. Davis is predicted to sign a contract in the range of four years, $10 million annually, $20 million guaranteed.
Acquire Edge Rusher Yannick Ngakoue
The Giants defense showed great improvement this past season. They ended the season ninth overall in the NFL. But Big Blue played without a dominant edge rusher. Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham devised schemes that generated pressure from the interior. It will be harder for the New York Giants defense to repeat that success next season. Big Blue’s two best defensive tackles, Leonard Williams and Dalvin Tomlinson, are both free agents. Realistically the team can afford to keep one. If the Giants re-sign one of their interior linemen, the best off-season moves the Giants can make is to acquire Yannick Ngakoue from Baltimore Ravens via free agency.
PFF notes Ngakoue “has the eighth-best pass-rush grade in the league when rushing from wide alignments.” They added, “Ngakoue’s best role is as a designated pass-rusher on a team with strong interior rushers and in a scheme where he can stay on the outside while limiting his work in the run game.” The Giants should have a good run defense, even with the loss of one of their defensive tackles. The addition of Ngakoue could free up Patrick Graham from having to call so many twists and stunts to generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Re-Sign Tomlinson Over Williams
The New York Giants don’t have unlimited resources. They can’t retain their own players and bring in free agents simultaneously. Gettleman needs to make strategic decisions. Therefore, if the Giants do upgrade at wide receiver, they should allow Leonard Williams to sign elsewhere. Williams led the team with 11.5 sacks, but grades higher as a run stopper. PFF said, “Run defense is his calling card, as he ranks in the 86th percentile in PFF run-defense grade since entering the league and with his best work coming as a B and C gap defender. Williams is an average pass-rusher and even with increased sack totals this season, he’s yet to break a 72.0 pass-rush grade for his career.”
In terms of Dalvin Tomlinson, PFF grades him as an above-average run defender. “He ranks in the 82nd percentile in PFF run-defense grade since 2017, and he knows how to finish plays — generating one of the best run stop percentages in the league. As a pass-rusher, Tomlinson has never graded above 62.3, though he’s trending in the right direction with a low-70.0s grade so far in 2020. He can play all over the defensive interior and represents one of the best run-stopping nose tackles in this class.”
Williams could earn $72 million over four years, while Tomlinson could sign for about $50 million. By signing Tomlinson over Williams, the New York Giants could afford to make additional off-season moves. These personnel moves won’t be easy. But if the team wants to have a winning record, and possibly compete for the playoffs, they must be made.
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