Feb 272017
 
Jason PIerre-Paul, New York Giants (November 6, 2016)

Jason PIerre-Paul – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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NEW YORK GIANTS PLACE FRANCHISE TAG ON JASON PIERRE-PAUL…
The New York Giants have placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. The Franchise tag tender guarantees Pierre-Paul a 1-year contract worth approximately $17 million. But Pierre-Paul may not agree to sign for those terms and hold out. On the other hand, the Giants and Pierre-Paul may still agree to a different multi-year contract. Pierre-Paul has made it clear he is seeking the latter.

If Pierre-Paul does not sign the tender, he will be able to negotiate a long-term contract with the Giants until July 15. After that date, Pierre-Paul will only be allowed to sign a 1-year contract with the Giants. The Giants can rescind the tag at any time. The downside of the tender for the Giants is it ties up $17 million of the team’s estimated $30 million in 2017 salary-cap space. The 2017 NFL salary cap is expected to be around $168 million.

A non-exclusive franchise player must be offered a one-year contract for the average of the five largest prior year salaries for players at the position or 120 percent of his prior year salary, whichever is greater. A non-exclusive franchise player may negotiate with other NFL teams, but if he signs an offer sheet from another team, the original team has a right to match the terms of that offer, or if it does not match the offer and thus loses the player, is entitled to receive two first-round draft picks as compensation.

ARTICLES…

Feb 242017
 
Zak DeOssie, New York Giants (August 12, 2016)

Zak DeOssie – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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NEW YORK GIANTS RE-SIGN ZAK DEOSSIE…
The New York Giants have re-signed long-snapper Zak DeOssie to a 2-year contract. DeOssie was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent when free agency begins on March 7th. DeOssie is the team’s second longest-tenured player behind quarterback Eli Manning. He also has been voted Giants special teams captain for each of the last six seasons.

“In theory, you could be a free agent, but there’s nowhere else I’d rather play,” DeOssie said. “I knew that from day one when I stepped in here after I got drafted (in 2007). I’m very fortunate to still be here and contribute in any way possible.”

The 32-year old DeOssie is one of the NFL’s most consistent long snappers, being voted to the Pro Bowl in 2008 and 2010. DeOssie was drafted as a linebacker by the Giants in the 4th round of the 2007 NFL Draft. He is now strictly a special teams player. In his 10 NFL seasons, DeOssie has only missed four games (all in 2015 with a wrist injury). Aside from his long snapping duties, DeOssie also excels in punt coverage.

Manning and DeOssie are the only two Giants under contract remaining from each of the last two Super Bowl teams. “It’s certainly weird,” DeOssie said. “The last few years I’ve been going through that transformation. There’s no denying I’m one of the oldest on the team. It was weird at first, but now I absolutely love it. I enjoy being with these young men and watching them grow, and also learning from them and growing myself.

“(2016) was one of the most enjoyable years. Obviously, the Super Bowl years were fantastic. But having accumulated so many years, and coming back off that injury and enjoying a little bit of success, it allowed me to truly appreciate the opportunity I have to play for such an incredible organization, and also with such incredible teammates.

“It means the world to me to have played here this long. When you’re young you can hope and dream. Now I’ll take whatever I can get and enjoy the ride while it lasts. My dad played for 12 years for four different teams. So hopefully, I can get to 12 someday, and hopefully beat him.”

For a complete list of Giants free agents, see the New York Giants 2017 Free Agency Scorecard section of the website.

NO COMPENSATORY PICKS FOR NEW YORK GIANTS…
As expected, the New York Giants did not receive any compensatory draft picks for 2016 free agent losses. Under league rules, a team losing more or better compensatory free agents than it acquires in the previous year is eligible to receive compensatory draft picks.

NEW YORK GIANTS PICK 10 SPOTS LOWER IN 4TH ROUND…
As reported in December, the NFL penalized the New York Giants for “illegally” using walkie-talkies during the December 11th game against the Dallas Cowboys. Head Coach Ben McAdoo used a walkie-talkie to communicate with quarterback Eli Manning for five plays when the regular head-set communication system broke down.

At that time in December, as a penalty, the NFL decided to move the Giants 4th-round pick to the end of the round, following any compensatory picks (but no more than 12 spots below where their pick would have been). The Giants were also fined $150,000 and Ben McAdoo was personally fined $50,000.

With the announcement of the compensatory picks, the Giants will now pick 10 spots lower in the 4th round, moving from 130 overall to 140.

ARTICLES…

Feb 242017
 
Paul Perkins, New York Giants (October 3, 2016)

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GIANTS.COM PLAYER INTERVIEWS…
Video clips of exclusive Giants.com interviews with the following players are available at Giants.com:

  • RB Paul Perkins (Video)
  • DT Johnathan Hankins (Video)
  • LB Keenan Robinson (Video)

ARTICLES…

Feb 172017
 
Landon Collins, New York Giants (October 23, 2016)

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The biggest reasons for the New York Giants defense’s dramatic improvement in 2016 was the improved play of the (1) defensive line and (2) defensive backs. The Giants defense went from dead last in 2015 to tenth in yardage allowed and second in scoring allowed in 2016. And while the team’s 23rd-ranked pass defense (251.1 yards per game) does not sound impressive, the unit played at a far higher level than that, as indicated by three defensive backs earning All-Pro honors.

The secondary became a team strength because the Giants signed Janoris Jenkins in free agency, drafted Eli Apple in the first round, and watched second-year safety Landon Collins develop into an impact player at his more natural strong safety position. An inconsistent player in St. Louis, Jenkins became one of the best corners in the NFL in 2016, teaming with Apple and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (DRC) to form perhaps the NFL’s best trio of corners. While Apple had his growing pains, he performed well enough to shut down a number of opponents and allow the coaches to move DRC to the slot corner position. Meanwhile, Collins led the Giants in tackles, was second on the team in interceptions, and third on the team in sacks. The weak spot in the secondary was free safety as promising rookie Darian Thompson and Mykkele Thompson were lost early to injuries, Nat Berhe battled concussions, and undrafted rookie Andrew Adams started the bulk of the season. While Adams didn’t embarrass himself, he did not make many plays either. Late in the season, Leon Hall – who was shifted from corner to safety – took over the position.

THE STARTERS

In his first season with the Giants, Janoris Jenkins had his best season to date, being voted to his first Pro Bowl and his first All-Pro (second-team) selection. Jenkins started every game, except for missing one game due to a back injury, and finished the season with 49 tackles, one sack, 18 pass defenses, three interceptions, and one forced fumble. Jenkins was originally drafted in the 2nd round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams. The Giants signed him as unrestricted free agent in March 2016. Jenkins is an average-sized corner with excellent speed and quickness. He is a confident, instinctive coverman who has gotten better each year and has developed into an elite shut-down corner. Jenkins plays well in both man and zone coverage. He plays with swagger.

The Giants drafted Eli Apple in the 1st round of the 2016 NFL Draft. He missed two games with hamstring and groin injuries, but surprisingly started 11 of the 14 regular-season games he played in. Apple finished the season with 51 tackles, seven pass defenses, one interception, and one forced fumble. Apple combines good size with excellent overall athletic ability, speed, and quickness. He flashes as a physical run defender and tackler, but needs to become more consistent in that area. Apple had a bit of an up-and-down rookie season in coverage. While he mostly handled his opponent, there were times when he gave up big plays. Apple makes a lot contact with receivers in coverage and he needs to continue to work on his technique. He has a big upside and looks to be developing into a fine player.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (DRC) had another strong year for the Giants, being named second-team All-Pro. He missed one game with a groin injury but started nine of the 15 regular-season games he played in, taking most of his snaps inside at the slot corner position. DRC finished the year with 49 tackles, one sack, 21 pass defenses, six interceptions, and one forced fumble. Rodgers-Cromartie was originally drafted in the 1st round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals. He was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles in 2011 and signed with the Broncos as an unrestricted free agent in 2013 and the Giants in 2014. Rodgers-Cromartie combines superb size and overall athletic skills, including speed, size, and leaping ability. Rodgers-Cromartie is one of the better cover corners in the NFL and capable of shutting down even top wide receivers. He has improved his toughness as a hitter and tackler. Rodgers-Cromartie made the Pro Bowl in 2009 and in 2015, the latter as an alternate. While he has not missed many games, DRC seems to battle a lot of nagging injuries.

In his second season, Landon Collins had a break-out year, being voted to his first Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro. Collins started every game and finished the year with 125 tackles, four sacks, 13 pass defenses, and five interceptions. Collins was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Giants. He is a big, tough, physical safety who lacks ideal quickness and recovery speed. Collins is good hitter and tackler and plays the run very well. He dramatically improved his play against the pass in 2016 and has rapidly developed into one of the best safeties in the NFL.

The Giants originally signed Andrew Adams as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2016 NFL Draft. Adams was signed to the Practice Squad, and then the 53-man roster in September 2016 after injuries hit the safety position hard. Force-fed into the starting line-up, Adams played in 14 regular-season games with 13 starts. He finished the year with 46 tackles, five pass defenses, and one interception. Adams lacks ideal height and speed but he is a well-built, athletic safety with good quickness. While Adams failed to make many plays on the ball in coverage, he was surprisingly reliable in that opposing offenses did not exploit him as much as would have been expected. That said, Adams saw his playing time decrease at the very end of the season in favor of Leon Hall.

THE RESERVES

Trevin Wade played in every game in 2016 with two regular-season starts. He received about 33 percent of defensive snaps and finished the year with 26 tackles and three pass defenses. Wade was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns. He has spent time with the Browns (2012-13), Saints (2013-14), and Lions (2014). The Giants signed Wade to a reserve/future contract in January 2015. Wade is a decent-sized corner with only average athletic ability and speed. He can handle the slot corner position. Wade flashes solid cover skills at times but also gives up a fair share of completions.

Coty Sensabaugh was signed by the Giants in October 2016 after he was waived by the Los Angeles Rams. He played in 10 regular-season games with no starts and finished the year with 15 tackles. Sensabaugh was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans. The Rams signed him to a 3-year, $15 million contract in March 2016. Sensabaugh has played in 72 regular-season games with 29 starts. Sensabaugh is an average-sized corner whose strength is playing the slot nickel corner spot.

The Giants signed Leon Hall in August 2016. The Giants started him off at his usual slot corner position before shifting him to safety when injuries hit that position hard. Hall played in 12 regular-season games with two starts, finishing with 31 tackles, two sacks, two pass defenses, one interception, and one forced fumble. Hall was originally drafted in the 1st round of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. In his nine seasons with the Bengals, Hall played in 121 regular-season games with 105 starts. Hall is nearing the end of a productive career, but his corner cover skills have eroded due to father time and injuries (Achilles’ tendon injuries in 2011 and 2013 and back surgery in 2016). Hall’s final playing days may be best suited for safety.

Michael Hunter spent time on both the Practice Squad and 53-man roster in 2016. He played in two regular-season games and finished the season with four tackles. The Giants originally signed Hunter as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2016 NFL Draft. Hunter has a nice combination of size and speed. He is a physical, press corner who was up-and-down during the 2016 preseason for the Giants.

Nat Berhe had his second injury-plagued season in a row in 2016. Berhe missed nine regular-season games with two concussions. He ended up playing in seven games with two starts, finishing with 21 tackles, one pass defense, and one forced fumble. Berhe was drafted in the 5th round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Giants. He played in all 16 games as a rookie, mostly on special teams. But he missed all of 2015 due to a blood clot in his calf. Berhe lacks ideal size and speed, but he is a smart, physical, and aggressive defender who hits hard. The two concussions combined with his physical style of play cloud his NFL future.

Eric Pinkins was signed to the Practice Squad in October and the 53-man roster in November. He ended up playing in five games, mostly on special teams. Pinkins was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks, who moved him to linebacker. Pinkins was waived by the Seahawks in September 2016. Pinkins has a nice combination of size and speed, but his instincts have been questioned.

PRACTICE SQUAD

Ryan Murphy was signed to the Practice Squad in late December 2016. Murphy was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks waived him in their final round of cuts in September 2015. He spent time on the Practice Squad of the Denver Broncos in both 2015 and 2016. Murphy has a nice combination of size and athletic ability.

INJURED RESERVE

Donte Deayon was signed to the Practice Squad in September 2016 and placed on the Practice Squad/Injured Reserve in October 2016 with an unknown injury. The Giants originally signed Deayon as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2016 NFL Draft. Deayon is a fluid, dimunitive corner with very good quickness and leaping ability. He is tough and confident, but struggled at times for the Giants during the 2016 preseason.

Having won the starting free safety position in the preseason, Darian Thompson missed virtually the entire season after suffering a Lisfranc foot injury in Week 2. Thompson tried to return in November, suffered a setback in practice, and was placed on Injured Reserve. The Giants drafted Thompson in the 3rd round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Thompson has a nice combination of smarts, maturity, size, and overall athletic ability. Thompson has natural cover skills and makes plays on the football in coverage. It remains to be seen how much the lisfranc injury affects his career.

Mykkele Thompson was placed on Injured Reserve in September 2016 after injuring his knee in Week 2. Thompson was drafted in the 5th round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Giants. He missed all of his rookie season after rupturing the Achilles’ tendon in his right foot during the preseason. Somewhat still raw, Thompson is a former quarterback and wide receiver who converted to cornerback and then safety in college. Thompson is a bit of a corner-safety ‘tweener. He is tall and thin with good speed, but he lacks ideal quickness for cornerback and ideal physicality for a safety. Thompson is versatile and smart. He is a good special teams player who blocked three punts in college. With two serious leg injuries in his first two seasons, his NFL future is cloudy.

Feb 152017
 
Will Tye, New York Giants (August 12 2016)

Will Tye – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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NEW YORK GIANTS RE-SIGN TIGHT END WILL TYE…
The New York Giants have re-signed exclusive rights free agent tight end Will Tye to a 1-year, $615,000 contract.

In his second season, Tye was promoted to the starting tight end spot at midseason after the bye week. He played in all 16 regular-season games, with 10 starts, and finished the year with 48 catches for 395 yards (8.2 yards per catch) and just one touchdown. Tye was originally signed as a rookie free agent after the 2015 NFL Draft by the Giants. In 2015, he played in 13 games with seven starts, and finished the season with 42 catches for 464 yards and three touchdowns. Tye was voted to the Pro Football Writers NFL All-Rookie Team. Tye is a good athlete with fine speed. His lack of size does limit him as a blocker, and receiver when it comes to out-muscling defenders for the ball. Despite more playing time in 2016, his productivity over his rookie season did not increase.

As reported earlier, exclusive rights free agents defensive tackle Robert Thomas (1-year, $540,000) and tight end Matt LaCosse (1-year, $465,000) have also been re-signed. According to ESPN, the Giants will not tender/re-sign exclusive rights free agents fullback Nikita Whitlock and wide receiver Ben Edwards.

The Giants waived/injured Whitlock in late August 2016 and then placed him on Injured Reserve with a mid-foot sprain (Lisfranc) that required surgery. He was then suspended in September 2016 for 10 games by the NFL for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances. Whitlock was originally signed by the Cincinnati Bengals as a rookie free agent after the 2014 NFL Draft, but was cut and signed by the Dallas Cowboys to their Practice Squad. The NFL suspended Whitlock in November 2014 for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs and the Cowboys terminated his Practice Squad contract. The Giants signed him to the Practice Squad in December 2014. Whitlock surprisingly beat out fullback Henry Hynoski in training camp in 2015 and ended up playing in 14 games with five starts until he was placed on Injured Reserve in December 2015 with a knee injury. He had no touches as a rusher or receiver. A collegiate defensive tackle, Whitlock also received a limited number of snaps at defensive tackle in pass rush situations for the Giants in 2015. He finished the season with six tackles and a sack.

Edwards was waived/injured and then placed on Injured Reserve in May 2016 after tearing an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in one of his knees during the rookie mini-camp. Injuries have plagued Edwards who tore an ACL in college in 2013, an injury that caused him to miss all of 2014; pulled his hamstring in a June 2015 mini-camp, an injury that led him to being waived/injured; and sprained his knee in an April 2016 mini-camp. The Giants originally signed Edwards after the 2015 NFL Draft, waived/injured him in June, re-signed him to the Practice Squad in November, and signed him to the 53-man roster in December. He played in the final two games of 2015 and finished the season with one catch for nine yards.

A complete list of the New York Giants free agents is available in the 2017 Free Agency Scorecard section of the website.

Feb 152017
 
Jonathan Casillas and Janoris Jenkins, New York Giants (September 18, 2016)

Jonathan Casillas and Janoris Jenkins – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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Ever since the New York Giants moved to the 4-3 defense in 1994, the team has largely de-emphasized the acquisition of linebackers in terms of premium resources. The last time the Giants drafted a linebacker in the 1st round was 1984 (Carl Banks). The last three linebackers drafted in the 2nd round were Clint Sintim (2009), Kanavis McGhee (1991), and Pepper Johnson (1986). From time to time, the Giants have spent big money on linebackers in free agency, including Michael Barrow (2000), Antonio Pierce (2005), and Michael Boley (2009). Not surprisingly, the overall play of the position has declined since its golden era of the 1980s, with the last linebackers to make the Pro Bowl being Pierce (2006) and Jessie Armstead (2001). Now annually, the team’s talent level at the position is usually considered sub-par and the defensive weak spot.

In 2016, of the defense’s three levels, the linebacking corps once again took a backseat to the defensive line and secondary. But while the linebackers were not a team strength, they did play at a more respectable level than their recent predecessors. This is a polite way of saying, “Well, at least the linebackers didn’t suck!”

The surprising headliner was Jonathan Casillas, who arguably had the best season of his career. Keenan Robinson stayed healthy and added more speed to the position. And Devon Kennard finally stayed healthy for a full 16 games. Overall, there weren’t many big plays from this group, but they did a respectable job on a defensive unit that improved from dead last in the NFL to 10th in terms of yardage allowed and 2nd in terms of points allowed.

THE STARTERS

Jonathan Casillas had his best season to date as a pro in 2016. Casillas played in every game, with 15 regular-season starts (72 percent of all defensive snaps), and finished the year with 96 tackles, 1.5 sacks, eight pass defenses, and one forced fumble. Casillas was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the New Orleans Saints after the 2009 NFL Draft. He has played for the Saints (2009-11), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2013-14), and Patriots (2014). The Giants signed him as a free agent in March 2015. Casillas lacks ideal size and has issues against the run at times, but he is a good athlete with fine speed and performs well in coverage. Caillas does not make many impact plays and is not much of a blitzer (6.5 career sacks).

Keenan Robinson officially only started 6-of-16 regular-season games, but he was second in playing time on the team among all linebackers (71 percent of all defensive snaps). Robinson finished 2016 with 83 tackles and seven pass defenses. Robinson was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins, where he missed time in 2012 (four games with right pectoral tear), 2013 (entire season with left pectoral tear), 2014 (three games with a knee injury), and 2015 (four games with a shoulder injury). The Giants signed him as a free agent in March 2016. Robinson has decent size and is a good athlete who runs well. Versatile, he can play inside and outside linebacker. Robinson is more of a run-and-hit linebacker than stout run defender at the point-of-attack. Robinson is solid in pass coverage. He only has 1.5 career sacks and has been injury prone. Robinson does not make many impact plays.

Devon Kennard played in every game with nine regular-season starts, playing in 47 percent of all defensive snaps. He finished 2016 with 61 tackles, one sack, one pass defense, and one forced fumble. Kennard was drafted in the 5th round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Giants. He missed playing time in 2014 (four games with hamstring and toe injuries) and 2015 (seven games with hamstring and foot injuries). Kennard is a big, strong linebacker who is a bit of a DE/LB ‘tweener. In fact, the Giants will use him at defensive end in pass rush situations. Kennard plays the run well and can get heat on the quarterback, but he is not as strong in coverage. To date, he has not put up big numbers or made many big plays. Kennard has been somewhat injury prone.

While Kelvin Sheppard started 11-of-16 regular-season games at middle linebacker in 2016, he only received 39 percent of defensive snaps. Sheppard finished the year with 50 tackles and two pass defenses. Sheppard was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills. He was traded to the Indianapolis Colts in April 2013 and signed with the Dolphins in September 2014 and Giants in April 2016. Sheppard is more of a two-down linebacker who plays the run better than the pass. While he has good size, Sheppard lacks ideal overall athletic ability. Sheppard does not make many big plays.

THE RESERVES

B.J. Goodson was drafted by the Giants in the 4th round of the 2016 NFL Draft. He played in 15 regular-season games with no starts, playing in one percent of defensive snaps. Goodson finished his rookie season with nine tackles and one forced fumble. Goodson is a big, strong, physical linebacker who plays the run better than the pass. He is a big hitter and good tackler. To become a complete player, Goodson has to improve his pass coverage. Goodson lacks ideal speed and agility.

Mark Herzlich remains primarily a reserve linebacker and special teams player who occasionally is called upon to play on defense (one percent of defensive snaps in 2016). Herzlich played in 14 regular-season games, missing two with a concussion. He finished with seven tackles on defense. Herzlich was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2011 NFL Draft. He has started 17 regular-season games in his six seasons with the Giants, eight of which were in 2014. Herzlich has very good size but is a sub-par athlete for the position. He is a good run defender, but struggles in coverage and is not much of a blitzer. Herzlich is a good special teams player.

Deontae Skinner was added to and released from the Practice Squad multiple times in 2016. He also was signed to the 53-man roster in October and again in December. Skinner played in four games in 2016 and was credited with five tackles. Skinner was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the New England Patriots after the 2014 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Patriots (2014-2015) and Eagles (2015-2016). Skinner is a big, instinctive linebacker with decent agility but who lacks speed.

Ishaq Williams was signed to the Practice Squad in September 2016 and the 53-man roster in December 2016. He did not play in any games. The Giants originally signed Williams after he impressed as a tryout player during the May 2016 mini-camp. Williams had been out of football since 2013 after being implicated in an academic dishonesty scandal at Notre Dame. Williams has a nice combination of size and overall athletic ability.

INJURED RESERVE

The Giants placed J.T. Thomas on Injured Reserve in September 2016 after he suffered ligament damage to his left knee in the regular-season opener. Thomas was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. The Bears waived him in August 2013 and he was claimed off of waivers by the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Giants signed Thomas in March 2015. In 2015 with the Giants, Thomas played in 12 games with 11 starts, missing four games with an ankle injury. Thomas lacks ideal size, but he is a good athlete who runs well. Versatile, Thomas can play all three linebacker positions. However, he does not many impact plays and is better suited as a reserve. Thomas is a good special teams player.

Feb 142017
 
Robert Thomas, New York Giants (November 6, 2016)

Robert Thomas – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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NEW YORK GIANTS RE-SIGN DT ROBERT THOMAS AND TE MATT LACOSSE…
According to press reports, the New York Giants have re-signed exclusive rights free agents defensive tackle Robert Thomas and tight end Matt LaCosse.

The Giants claimed Thomas off of waivers from the Carolina Panthers in September 2016. He played in eight regular-season games with no starts (6 percent of defensive snaps) and finished the year with five tackles and one sack. Thomas was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Washington Redskins after the 2014 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Redskins (2014-15), Seahawks (2015), Patriots (2015), Dolphins (2015), and Panthers (2016). Thomas is a big, strong tackle who plays hard.

The Giants waived/injured LaCosse in late August 2016 and then placed him on Injured Reserve with a knee injury that required surgery. LaCosse was originally signed by the Giants as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2015 NFL Draft. The Giants waived/injured him in August with a hamstring injury and re-signed him to the Practice Squad in November and the 53-man roster in December 2015. He played in two games and finished with three catches for 22 yards. LaCosse is a versatile player who played tight end, H-Back, and fullback in college. LaCosse has good speed and catches the football well.

Meanwhile, SNY is reporting that the Giants will not re-sign exclusive rights free agent wide receiver Ben Edwards. Edwards was waived/injured and then placed on Injured Reserve in May 2016 after tearing an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in one of his knees during the rookie mini-camp. Injuries have plagued Edwards who tore an ACL in college in 2013, an injury that caused him to miss all of 2014; pulled his hamstring in a June 2015 mini-camp, an injury that led him to being waived/injured; and sprained his knee in an April 2016 mini-camp. The Giants originally signed Edwards after the 2015 NFL Draft, waived/injured him in June, re-signed him to the Practice Squad in November, and signed him to the 53-man roster in December. He played in the final two games of 2015 and finished the season with one catch for nine yards.

The other two exclusive free agents (if tendered) are fullback Nikita Whitlock and tight end Will Tye.

GIANTS INSIDER WITH TE WILL TYE…
The video of a Giants Insider Q&A with tight end Will Tye is available at Giants.com.

ARTICLES…

Feb 142017
 
Larry Donnell, New York Giants (December 28, 2014)

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REPORT – NEW YORK GIANTS WILL NOT RE-SIGN LARRY DONNELL…
The NFL Network is reporting that the New York Giants will not re-sign soon-to-be unrestricted free agent tight end Larry Donnell. Donnell began the 2016 season as the starting tight end but was benched after the bye week. He started to receive more playing time again late in the season. Donnell ended up playing in 14 games with six starts, and finished the regular season with just 15 catches for 92 yards (6.1 yards per catch) and one touchdown.

Donnell originally went undrafted and unsigned in 2011. The Giants signed him as a street free agent in March 2012 and Donnell spent the 2012 season on the team’s Practice Squad. Donnell has regressed since his breakout 2014 season (63 catches for 623 yards and six touchdowns). His numbers were down in 2015 (missing half the season with a neck injury) and down again in 2016. He just has not developed as hoped or expected.

ARTICLES…

Feb 132017
 
Victor Cruz, New York Giants (September 11, 2016)

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NEW YORK GIANTS CUT VICTOR CRUZ AND RASHAD JENNINGS…
The New York Giants have released wide receiver Victor Cruz and running back Rashad Jennings, both of whom are coming off of disappointing seasons. Cruz was set to count $9.4 million against the 2017 NFL salary cap. By cutting him, the Giants saved $7.5 million against the cap with $1.9 million in dead money. Jennings was set to count $3,062,500 against the the cap. By cutting him, the Giants saved $2.5 million with $562,500 in dead money. In all, the Giants saved $10 million against the cap.

In his seven seasons with the Giants, Cruz played in 70 regular-season games with 53 starts, becoming the franchise’s tenth-leading receiver of all time with 303 receptions for 4,549 and 25 touchdowns. However, in 15 regular-season games in 2016, Cruz caught just 39 passes for 586 yards and one touchdown.

Signed as a rookie free agent after the 2010 NFL Draft, the rags-to-riches Victor Cruz story is well known, culminating with his impact season in 2011, first Pro Bowl in 2012, and big offseason contract in 2013. In 2011-2012, Cruz compiled 168 catches for 2,628 yards and 19 touchdowns. But Cruz suffered three lower-leg injuries that seemed to rob him of his quickness, including arthroscopic knee surgery in 2013, career-threatening patellar tendon knee injury in 2014, and a calf injury that required surgery in 2015.

“Victor is one of the great stories of the National Football League,” said General Manager Jerry Reese. “He came in here and earned everything that he’s gotten. It has been amazing to see him grow from an undrafted free agent to a Pro Bowl player and one of our go-to guys during the Super Bowl XLVI run. He will always be one of the great Giants.”

“It’s been an amazing journey,” Cruz said. “I pretty much grew up in front of the eyes of this entire organization. The Giants fan base, the community, my hometown, my family. I grew up there. It’s very much a family atmosphere and it’s very much like leaving your family. That’s what it feels like. I did some great things there. There are so many experiences, times and moments that I shared in that building with that team in that jersey. Those can’t be replaced or forgotten. I’m happy I have those moments to look back on.

“I’m going to miss the people there. Those are the guys that you see day in and day out. Those are the guys that you go to war with and see every day. That’s the family. Those are the people that you look up to, look at, see every day and are most excited about. I definitely miss those guys. I had the chance to see them today before I left the building. I was there for an hour or two just talking to everyone. It’s a good feeling. They’ll always be family. People like that, when you know them that long, they don’t go anywhere.”

In his three seasons with the Giants, Jennings played in 40 regular-season games with 37 starts. During that time, he carried the ball 543 times for 2,095 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also caught 94 passes for 723 yards and two touchdowns. However, Jennings saw his production drop dramatically in 2016 after having his most productive year in the NFL in 2015. Jennings’ rushing yards (from 863 to 593) and yards per carry (from 4.4 to 3.3) fell precipitously with only three rushing touchdowns in each season. Jennings did catch six more passes (from 29 to 35) but his yards per catch dropped nearly in half (from 10.2 to 5.7).

Rashad Jennings, New York Giants (December 27, 2015)

Rashad Jennings – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Jennings was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. He signed with the Oakland Raiders in 2013 and the Giants in 2014. Jennings missed five games with the Giants in 2014 due to knee and ankle problems. He started all 16 games in 2015, but missed three games in 2016 with a thumb injury.

“Rashad is a pro’s pro, on and off the field,” Reese said. “He came to work every day and did everything we asked him to do, and always worked extra to get better at his craft.”

“It’s an honor to play here, playing for a team that has so much history, a team that falls under great leadership and high character,” Jennings said. “In the mecca of everything, the relationships I’ve built are priceless. The people, the fans, teammates, ownership, I’ve been blessed to play with the Giants and see that side of the NFL. I have nothing but good things to say.

“I’m happy I was able to (make the playoffs for the first time in my career),” Jennings said. “I know under the leadership of coach (Ben) McAdoo that the Giants are going to be there again next year. I already talked to all my running backs. They all called me and thanked me. As soon as the word gets out, probably all of my teammates are going to call me and encourage me. It’s part of the game. It’s unfortunate. After a couple of days, I’m going to be excited for the next leg and opportunity that I get. For the 17th game, that put more of a drive in me. To have a taste for the 17th game and make the playoffs put more of a drive in me to train harder and make sure I’m there again next year, wherever I’m at.”

Both Cruz and Jennings hope to continue playing in the NFL.

“I think I have a lot of good football left ahead of me,” Cruz said. “I think there is still a lot of miles left on this body. I’ll definitely be searching and looking for work as the time comes.”

“That’s the least of my worries,” Jennings said. “When (Jerry Reese) called me, I was in the gym. I’m in Florida right now training. I had to step out to talk to him. He said, ‘I didn’t expect anything less for you to be training right now.’ He encouraged me, ‘that’s why you can continue to play. You take care of your body and do the little things.’ I know me and my skillset that I bring to the table. I have more football left in me. I’m a vet, a leader, a motivator, can do anything. I finished the league in the top five in pass protection. I can catch out the backfield, run the ball, play special teams and I want to win the championship. Yes, I have more football left.”

ARTICLES…

Feb 132017
 
Damon Harrison, New York Giants (January 1, 2017)

Damon Harrison – © USA TODAY Sports Images

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The New York Giants defensive line underwent a major overhaul in 2016, and the changes were perhaps THE major reason why the team’s defense improved from dead last in the NFL to 10th in terms of yardage and 2nd in terms of points allowed. The Giants went from 24th in run defense in 2015 (121.4 yards per game, 4.4 yards per carry) to 3rd in 2016 (88.6 yards per game, 3.6 yards per carry).

The key to sparking the dramatic turnaround were the high-priced, high-profile free agent additions of defensive end Olivier Vernon (5-years, $85 million) and defensive tackle Damon Harrison (5-years, $46 million). These two were a major upgrade over defensive ends Robert Ayers/George Selvie and defensive tackles Markus Kuhn/Cullen Jenkins. Harrison is arguably the best run-stuffing defensive tackle in the game and earned first-team All-Pro honors after making the switch from a 3-4 nose tackle with the New York Jets to a 4-3 defensive tackle. Vernon was slowed by a serious hand/wrist injury but played virtually every snap and earned second-team All-Pro honors.

Jason Pierre-Paul (JPP) rebounded nicely from a 2015 offseason catastrophic fireworks accident that left him permanently maimed. After a slow start on the pass-rushing front, the line was rounding into peak form until a groin tear/sports hernia injury sidelined JPP for the final four regular-season games and post-season contest. Unfortunately, the dropoff was noticeable. As a unit, the line finished with 24.5 sacks in the regular season (up from 16 in 2015).

THE STARTERS

In his first season with the Giants, Olivier Vernon was slowed early by a serious left hand/wrist injury but he ended up starting every game and playing 94 percent of all defensive snaps. Vernon finished with 63 tackles, 8.5 sacks, and one forced fumble. He was also named second-team All-Pro. Vernon was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Dolphins. The Giants signed him as a free agent in March 2016. Vernon lacks classic size, but he is a very strong, athletic end with long arms and a non-stop motor. He is one of the better two-way ends in football and is equally disruptive against the run and the pass. Vernon can get heat on the quarterback from both the end and tackle positions, and gets a lot of hits on the quarterback.

Jason Pierre-Paul started 12 games in 2016, but missed the remainder of the season with groin and sports hernia injuries that required surgery. He finished the year with 53 tackles, seven sacks, eight pass defenses, and three forced fumbles. Pierre-Paul was drafted in the 1st round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Giants. His best season came in 2011 when he accrued 86 tackles and 16.5 sacks. After not missing a game in his first three years with the Giants, Pierre-Paul has not completed a full season in three of the last four years, including 2013 (herniated disc and shoulder injuries) and 2015 (fireworks accident that permanently maimed his right hand). Pierre-Paul has an excellent combination of size, strength, and athleticism. When healthy and focused, Pierre-Paul can be an explosive, disruptive difference-maker against both the run and the pass. His tremendous wingspan helps him to bat passes down at the line of scrimmage (42 career pass defenses and 2 interceptions). As a pass rusher, he can beat blockers with both power and movement skills. Pierre-Paul is a very good run defender, both at the point-of-attack as well as in backside pursuit.

In his first season with the Giants, Damon Harrison had a superb year, starting every game and finishing the regular season with career highs in tackles (86) and sacks (2.5). Harrison was named first-team All-Pro. Harrison was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Jets after the 2012 NFL Draft. The Giants signed him as an unrestricted free agent in March 2016. Harrison is a strong, mammoth player with surprising athleticism for someone so large. He is a rock against the run, able to hold the point-of-attack against the double-team block. He may be the NFL’s best inside run defender. Though Harrison is a better run defender than pass rusher, he will flash at times getting after the quarterback.

Johnathan Hankins started every game and finished the 2016 regular season with 43 tackles, three sacks, and one forced fumble. Hankins was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Giants. Hankins has excellent size, strength, and overall athleticism. He is a stout run defender who occasionally flashes on the pass rush.

THE RESERVES

The Giants signed Romeo Okwara as an undrafted free agent after the 2016 NFL Draft. Not only did he make the team, but he was a surprisingly-strong contributor as a rookie. Okwara played in every game with four regular-season starts (36 percent of defensive snaps), and finished the year with 25 tackles, one sack, and two pass defenses. Okwara looks the part with excellent size and arm length. He’s a hard worker with a fine motor. While Okwara is a good athlete, he lacks dynamic quickness to excel as outside pass rusher. He flashes more when rushing from the defensive tackle position. Okwara is a solid run defender, but he can still improve his consistency in this area.

Drafted in the 3rd round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Giants, Owamagbe Odighizuwa’s has not developed as hoped or expected. Hamstring and foot injuries caused him to miss 12 games of his rookie season. He missed two regular-season games in 2016 with a knee injury and the playoff game with a hamstring injury. In his 18 regular-season games, Odighizuwa has been credited with just six tackles and one pass defense. Odighizuwa looks the part. He is a strong, well-built, and athletic defensive end with long arms and huge hands. Odighizuwa has the ability to play defensive tackle in pass rushing situations. He is a hard worker who simply has not been able to put it together yet.

Kerry Wynn saw his playing time decrease in 2016 (11 percent of defensive snaps). He played in 14 regular-season games with no starts and finished the year with 12 tackles and 0.5 sacks. Wynn was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Giants after the 2014 NFL Draft. He has played in 34 regular-season games, with seven starts, for the Giants in his three years with the team. Wynn has a nice combination of size, strength, and overall athletic ability. Wynn is a better run defender than pass rusher as he lacks dynamic quickness on the outside pass rush. He is able to play defensive tackle in pass-rush situations.

The primary reserve at defensive tackle, Jay Bromley played in 15 regular-season games with no starts. He received 22 percent of defensive snaps and finished the season with 14 tackles and one sack. Bromley was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Giants. He has played in 39 regular-season games with just four starts. Bromley combines decent size, strength, and overall athletic ability. He has improved his play against the run since coming to the Giants but he has not developed into the inside pass rusher hoped for when he was drafted.

The Giants claimed Robert Thomas off of waivers from the Carolina Panthers in September 2016. He played in eight regular-season games with no starts (6 percent of defensive snaps) and finished the year with five tackles and one sack. Thomas was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Washington Redskins after the 2014 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Redskins (2014-15), Seahawks (2015), Patriots (2015), Dolphins (2015), and Panthers (2016). Thomas is a big, strong tackle who plays hard.

PRACTICE SQUAD

Stansly Maponga was signed to the Practice Squad in September 2016. Maponga was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons. From 2013-2014, he played in 24 regular-season games with no starts, accruing eight tackles, one sack, and two fumble recoveries. The Falcons waived Maponga before the start of the 2015 season. The Giants signed Maponga off of the Practice Squad of the Falcons in December 2015, and he ended up playing in two games for New York. Maponga is an athletic lineman who flashes on occasion as a pass rusher.

Jordan Williams was signed to the Practice Squad in December 2016. Williams was originally signed by the New York Jets as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2015 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Jets (2015) and Miami Dolphins (2015-2016). He has good size.