Mar 312021
 
John Mara, New York Giants (December 13, 2020)

John Mara – © USA TODAY Sports

JOHN MARA ADDRESSES THE MEDIA…
New York Giants President and Chief Executive Officer John Mara addressed the media on Wednesday (video):

Q: I know we talked before the season last year about off the field issues and how do you evaluate prospects and what have you moving forward. I’m curious about the challenges in draft season under these circumstances when you’re not getting the time that you’d like to vet prospects face to face. From your perspective, how do you guide the personnel department, the coaching staff, in terms of taking chances on players that may have red flags?

A: It’s a little more of a challenge for sure, but you’re still allowed the Zoom interviews and those are helpful, and you can certainly do your own background work on these guys – you can do your research, you can talk to their college coaches, to people that are on the football staff. All of our scouts have connections at different schools, so there’s still a lot of research you can do with these guys. It’s certainly not as good as talking to them face to face in your building, but it’s something that all the teams have to deal with, so it’s doable. I thought last year we did a good job with it and we got some really quality people.

Q: What is your expectation for the cap in 2022?

A: Not sure yet. That’s going to depend on a lot of things – certainly will be higher – but that’s going to depend on a lot of factors including whether we’re going to have a significant number of people in the building this year and in all of the buildings around the league. It’s too early to make any projections on that.

Q: How much did the spending this offseason kind of bake in the fact that you are expecting a jump if not next year, then in the future?

A: Well, we’re desperately hoping that we’re going to have more revenue to work with and that the cap will be a little bit higher because, yes, we did obviously spend a lot of money and we pushed some money into future years to be sure to create some additional space. Certainly, we’re hoping that our revenues will be up and we believe that they will be, given the rollout of the vaccines and whatnot, but we’re certainly a long way from making any predictions on that yet.

Q: You saw [Head Coach] Joe Judge up close this recruiting cycle. What did you sense? You guys really wanted to get these big players in the building, which is kind of like a throwback to years ago. What did you see from your whole operation, especially from Joe, once you got these guys in the building? You know what he is in certain things, but maybe not as a recruiter. Kind of assess his recruiting style a little bit.

A: I think the word I would use is ‘thorough.’ I mean, even before guys came into the building he did a lot of background checks with former colleagues of his, other coaches around the league or college coaches that he has a relationship with, so he knew a lot about these players before they walked in the building. [WR] Kenny Golladay, for example, I mean Joe went to dinner with him the night before and then had him in the office the next day for an extended period of time, really got to know him, so I think it was a very thorough process. We had a number of people in the building sit with these players, specifically with Golladay and [CB] Adoree’ Jackson, so we got a pretty good understanding of what they’re about and that, to me, was a big advantage. It’s much more difficult to do this when you can’t get the guys in the building and you have to make a commitment to a large amount of money without getting a chance to eye them up and talk to them and get a feel for them. I was happy that we were able to do that this year. It made it easier to give the final okay to say, ‘Yeah, go ahead, get the thing signed.’

Q: Last year, there was a lot of preaching about patience, rebuilding, the process here kind of with a long-term view, but the kind of spending you guys did recently in free agency puts a lot of pressure on this year. Do you expect to make the playoffs this year like spending this kind of money would seem to indicate? And what accounts for maybe the shift from a long-term, rebuild view to so much emphasis on 2021?

A: You know, I think you have to seize the opportunities when they present themselves to you. The big money that we spent recently were on two young players that we think can be here for a while. And in terms of whether I expect to make the playoffs – look, I go into every season expecting to make the playoffs. Unfortunately, I’ve been wrong the last five years, but I always expect us to make the playoffs and expect us to be in contention at some point. In terms of the money we spent this year, I mean, there were opportunities that presented themselves, particularly at positions of need with quality players and guys that we did a lot of research on, so we took advantage of the opportunities and hopefully they’ll pay off.

Q: How involved has Steve Tisch been recently? Has he been involved in these owners’ meetings? How has he been involved in this free agency cycle, this offseason, etc.?

A: He’s been involved in the owners’ meetings and I’ve had a number of conversations with him, as have other people in the building, so he’s been fully aware of what’s been going on and has given his opinion. He has continued to be involved, yes.

Q: Hey John, you’ve mentioned a few times in the past, talking at the end of the season about telling fans to be patient. What message does this free agency spending spree send to your fan base?

A: Well, I think it’s just that we’re committed to doing whatever we have to do to put a winning team on the field. As I’ve said before, there were opportunities that presented themselves to add quality young players that were highly regarded, that we think can make an impact and also were positions of need, so we took advantage of them. I think you can’t do that every year, but when the opportunity presents itself I think you have to seize it and I think that’s what we did this year. We think it will pay off, but time will tell. We’re certainly not a finished product by any stretch of imagination. We need to add some more pieces in the draft, but I do like the direction that we’re going in.

Q: The media kicker comes into effect with the adding of the 17th game for next year’s salary cap, correct?

A: That’s correct.

Q: On the international marketing plan that you all just approved, what is your general sense of what that opportunity is? Is that more appropriately characterized as sort of an incremental, experimental thing or do you think there’s real revenue in the short term for the league and teams in this plan? And then also, where are the Giants looking, if anywhere, overseas?

A: We’re having some discussions about that. I don’t see us jumping into that right now – we’re more focused on the opportunities in our local market – but I do think it is a long-term revenue opportunity for the league and for clubs, no question about it. Our focus right now is on our local market, on getting people into the building, getting our inventory sold and improving the team. Will we look at that at some point in the future? Yeah, I would say that’s possible, but that’s not our focus right now.

Q: What are the benchmarks you need to see from [Quarterback] Daniel Jones this coming year and how tied is [General Manager] Dave Gettleman’s future to the future of Daniel Jones and his development?

A: Well, I think they’re kind of two separate questions. Listen, we think the world of Daniel in this building, I think I’ve said that publicly before, I know our coaches feel very strongly about him. We want to see him take the next step. I don’t have any specific benchmarks other than let’s win some more games. I think he will have a better team around him this year than he’s had in previous years, so we certainly expect him to take the next step, but I’m not going to put any specific benchmarks on him right now. I just want to see him continue to improve because I do think he has what it takes to be a long-term winner in this league.

Q: How much of the spending, especially on Kenny Golladay and then bringing in [Wide Receiver] John Ross, was motivated around facilitating him taking that next step?

A: Well, I think that’s part of it, for sure, but you have two guys – Golladay has obviously put up some great numbers in this league and John Ross is somebody who has some unique speed and we think maybe we might hit on him as well. So I think surrounding Daniel with more weapons was certainly a priority coming into this offseason, but that would be true no matter who the quarterback is. You always want to put as many weapons on the field as possible. It’s becoming more and more of a passing league, and we saw an opportunity to add some guys who have some unique talent and hopefully it’ll pay off for us.

Q: I know this team means everything to you, it’s been in your blood for your entire life. What would it mean to you personally to turn this thing around in a meaningful way and to get this team headed back for a Super Bowl?

A: Obviously, it would mean the world to me. It’s been a very difficult four or five year period for us and I’m tired of the losing and of having the postseason press conference trying to explain what went wrong and why I think we’re making progress. It’s time for us to start winning some more and that’s one of the reasons we spent the money we did. I do think we’re making progress here. We’ve added more players, it’s definitely a better locker room than we’ve had in a while and I think Joe has done a terrific job instilling a certain culture here. The players believe in him and the fans seem to believe in him, too, so I think we’re moving in the right direction. But, obviously, it’s been brutal the last few years and we’re looking forward to turning it around and not having to make excuses for why we haven’t done it.

Q: Your personal belief in Joe as the best coach for this team?

A: I think I said it at the end of the year. What he was able to do last year as a brand new head coach in this league at his age and not having any offseason program or any on-field activity, no preseason games, you just jump right into Week One, and we only won six games, but I just sense a different feeling from the players. They believe in his message and in his program. You can see that in team meetings, you can see that on the practice field, you could see that in their effort, so now is the time to just start winning more games. I think he showed us a lot last year, so now it’s time to take the next step.

Q: Hey John, the last time you guys spent like this in free agency obviously was 2016, which led to a playoff berth, but obviously didn’t work out great in the long term. Why do you believe this is different this year? And because of that 2016 experience, did you have to be convinced to be big players in free agency?

A: My feeling whenever we go into a free agency period – and I tell our people this – I don’t care how much money we spend or how much cash we spend, just make sure it’s the right guys that we’re bringing into the building. Make sure it’s the right guys and that’s why being able to bring Kenny Golladay and Adoree’ Jackson into the building and for our people to have that much access to them and to do the research on them was so vitally important. It made it, quite frankly, an easy decision to me. My only concern is, what’s the cap effect and how is it going to hamstring us in the future? We think we’ll be able to manage that going forward, but the critical thing for me was bringing them into the building, having the thorough process that we had, all the research that was done on them and then having the conviction of so many people in the building about those two individuals, and [Tight End] Kyle Rudolph as well and also the other guys that we signed.

Q: You guys have been known to be one of the more traditionally conservative teams medically with guys. A lot of the guys you signed this offseason, they missed a lot of games the last couple of years. How did that factor into your decision this offseason to make all those splashes and do it with guys that, quite frankly, missed a ton of games last year?

A: That was certainly an important factor and that’s why it was so critical that they take complete physicals and that we have our medical people take a good look at them and make sure that they were over whatever injuries they had and were able to be healthy players for us in 2021. I was satisfied at the end of the day that we had done that. I was convinced, particularly in Kenny’s case and also in Adoree’s case, that they were healthy and would be expected to contribute fully in 2021, but that’s a huge thing when you’re laying out that kind of money. You have to make sure that these guys are healthy. We believe that they are and time will tell.

Q: Was this your plan? You had three big-money signings, over $100 million in guarantees. Was that the plan going in or did you sort of pivot at some point?

A: It wasn’t necessarily the plan coming in. We knew we had some room to operate with, we knew we had some needs. We wanted to see who was going to be available. If the right opportunity presented itself, then we’ll spend the money. If not – the one thing we said at the beginning of the process is we’re not going to spend just for the sake of spending, it has to be the right opportunity, it has to be the right individual. I think in all the cases, they were the right individual, so it made it a much easier decision to give the okay to go ahead and spend the money. But I can’t say we came in expecting to spend $100 million or whatever the final figure was. I say it in every year, just make sure it’s the right guy, it’s the right individual, it’s the right fit, they’re healthy and that we can manage the cap situation going forward, and I think we’ll be able to do all those things.

Q: Would you like to get something done contract-wise, ideally with [Running Back] Saquon [Barkley] this offseason or do you want to see how he responds from his knee injury first?

A: I certainly think we’re not in any hurry to do that. We fully expect him to be as good as new. I mean, if anybody is going to spend 100 percent of his efforts to rehab, it will be Saquon just knowing what type of motivation he has and desire he has. But we’re not in any hurry to do that at this point in time, particularly after the money we just spent. But listen, I said it at the end of the season and I’ll say it again, we hope he’s going to be a Giant for life and at the appropriate time we’ll start those discussions.

Q: You talk about wanting to win and you’re expecting to win more. If this team does not produce more in 2021, will Dave Gettleman be your GM in 2022?

A: I’m not going to speculate on that right now, let’s just see how the season plays out. I have more confidence going into this season than I’ve had in previous years, so hopefully given the money that we spent, given the draft we expect to have, we’ll have a better team on the field this year.

Q: [Minnesota Vikings Defensive Lineman] Dalvin Tomlinson obviously left, homegrown guy, captain. [Washington Football Team Safety] Landon Collins left a couple years ago, homegrown guy, captain. Do you worry about what that sends the locker room about guys doing things right and not getting extensions? To that end, [Safety] Jabrill [Peppers], [Tight End Evan] Engram, Saquon are up for extensions. Do you need to be proactive about getting those guys signed?

A: I do worry about that, I really do. I loved Landon Collins and Dalvin Tomlinson, those were two great players and they were great people in the building. It broke my heart to see them go, but at the end of the day you have to make a cold hard business decision, can you afford to devote that much cap space to this particular player? But I am very cognizant of the message that it sends out, but you can’t pay everybody. We do have some important players that will be coming up for extensions pretty soon, so that is something that’s always in the back of my mind. Listen, that played into the decision not to trade those individuals either when the trade deadline came around and we’re still fighting to salvage the rest of our season. Maybe it would’ve been a better idea to try to trade one of them and pick up a draft pick. One of the things I was concerned about was the message that it sends, but I think players for the most part understand that you just can’t pay everybody and you have to make some very tough business decisions. But those two in particular were two of the toughest ones that we’ve had to make for many, many years and they were particularly upsetting to me because I hated to see those two guys walk out of the building.

Q: Hey John, you mentioned in the article with Ian [O’Connor] in the New York Post earlier this week that you were even on the phone with Kenny recruiting him a little bit. I’m curious as to how you would characterize your role this year in free agency versus years past.

A: I would say pretty much the same. I let the football people do the work on that, do the recruiting. One of the things we did a little bit different this year is we had some players involved in the recruiting effort as well, which I think was very effective. But I did call up Kenny and tell him how I thought he’d be a great fit for our organization. I talked to him about the resources that we have here to help him develop not only as a player, but as a man and I thought he could really be helpful to us. So, I did a little bit of recruiting with him, but I think by the time I got to him it sounded to me like his mind was already made up, so I’m not going to take any credit for that. I think our staff did a great job in that recruitment process and we were happy to get it done at the end of the day.

Q: Did you feel any more urgency once you made that decision that you were going to go to certain lengths to get a little bit more involved?

A: Actually, Joe had asked me at some point to make a call to Kenny in particular, which I was happy to do and would’ve done anyway probably, so I did feel some sense of urgency. We didn’t want to lose him. We thought he’d be a vital piece to what we want to accomplish going forward. To have a receiver with that skill set alongside the guys we already have we thought would be a huge piece for us. It also takes pressure off of us going into the draft. We don’t have to take a receiver in round one or round two, we can sit there and just take the best player available when it comes to our spot. I think that’s another reason why it was so important to us.

Q: Hey John, what do you and your organization need to do to have a full house of fans at games? I know Roger Goodell mentioned yesterday he’d like to see all teams with full houses next year?

A: I think we’ve been in close communication with the Governor’s office here. I’ve had a number of discussions with them and we’ll continue to work closely with them as the vaccinations continue to roll out. Hopefully, the positivity rate will decrease in future months, but we’ll be guided by certainly the Governor’s office. We’re hopeful of having a full stadium next year, that would be a huge plus for our players, for our fans and for our organization, and obviously that is something that we have to work with the Governor’s office on. As I said, we’ve been in close communication with them for the last year really, going back to last March.

Q: The owners voted unanimously to give [Washington Football Team Owner] Dan Snyder a debt waiver to buy out his limited partners. I assume no bank is going to loan him a lot of money if there’s a material judgement pending against him. How confident are you that the league won’t find any wrongdoing in his handling of the front office issues there?

A: I really don’t have an answer for that. I’ve not been involved in that process. I’m just glad it was settled between Dan and the minority partners so that they can move ahead, but I don’t have any comment on that investigation. I’ve not been a part of it and I don’t have any information on it.

CARDINALS SIGN COLT McCOY…
The Arizona Cardinals have signed New York Giants unrestricted free agent quarterback Colt McCoy. The contract is reportedly a 1-year deal.

McCoy easily won the back-up quarterback spot for the Giants in 2020 and ended up playing in four games with two starts, completing 60.6 percent of his passes for 375 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. The 6’1”, 212-pound McCoy was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns. He has spent time with the Browns (2010-2012), San Francisco 49ers (2013), and Washington Redskins (2014-2019). The Giants signed McCoy as an unrestricted free agent from the Redskins in March 2020. In 11 NFL seasons, McCoy has only started 30 games, 21 of which came with the Browns in 2010-2011. 

Mar 302021
 
Chris Milton, Tennessee Titans (November 8, 2020)

Chris Milton – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS SIGN THREE MORE PLAYERS…
The New York Giants have officially signed free agents tight end Cole Hikutini, cornerback Chris Milton, and safety Joshua Kalu. Terms of the deals are not yet publicly known.

The 26-year old, 6’4”, 240-pound Hikutini was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the San Francisco 49ers after the 2017 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the 49ers (2017-2018), Minnesota Vikings (2018-2019), and Dallas Cowboys (2019-2020). His only playing time came as a rookie when he played in four regular-season games, catching two passes for 15 yards for the 49ers. Hikutini has been a Practice Squad player for the past three seasons. The Cowboys cut him on March 19th.

The 28-year old, 5’11”, 190-pound Milton was originally signed as undrafted rookie free agent by the Indianapolis Colts after the 2016 NFL Draft. He spent three seasons with the Colts before being signed by the Tennessee Titans after he was cut. In all, Milton has played in 55 regular-season games, with one start, accruing 35 tackles, two pass defenses, and recovering one fumble. The Titans cut him in February 2021.

The 25-year old, 6’0”, 203-pound Kalu was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Tennessee Titans after the 2018 NFL Draft. In his three seasons with Tennessee, Kalu played in 28 regular-season games with no starts, accruing 24 tackles, one pass defense, and one forced fumble. He also blocked a field goal. Kalu was not tendered as a potential restricted free agent, making him unrestricted.

For a complete listing of free agent comings and goings, see our New York Giants 2021 Free Agency Scorecard.

NEW YORK GIANTS 2021 OPPONENTS…
With the NFL deciding on a 17-game regular-season schedule, the 17th opponent the New York Giants will face in 2021 will be the Miami Dolphins. The Giants will be the visiting team and thus nine of the Giants’ 17 games will be road contests.

Home:

  • Dallas Cowboys
  • Philadelphia Eagles
  • Washington Redskins
  • Atlanta Falcons
  • Carolina Panthers
  • Denver Broncos
  • Las Vegas Raiders
  • Los Angeles Rams

Away:

  • Dallas Cowboys
  • Philadelphia Eagles
  • Washington Redskins
  • New Orleans Saints
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Kansas City Chiefs
  • Los Angeles Chargers
  • Chicago Bears
  • Miami Dolphins
Mar 292021
 
Danny Shelton, Detroit Lions (October 4, 2020)

Danny Shelton – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS SIGN DANNY SHELTON…
The New York Giants have officially signed free agent nose tackle Danny Shelton, who was cut by the Detroit Lions two weeks ago. The contract is reportedly a 1-year deal.

The 27-year old, 6’2”, 335-pound Shelton was originally drafted in the 1st round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns. He has spent time with the Browns (2015-2017), New England Patriots (2018-2019), and Lions (2020). In all, Shelton has played in 87 regular-season games, starting 72, and accruing 247 tackles, 16 tackles for losses, 18 quarterback hits, and 5.5 sacks in six NFL seasons. Last year with Detroit, Shelton started 12 games, missing four contests with a knee injury. He also suffered a triceps injury in the finale. Shelton finished the year with 36 tackles and one sack, playing 44 percent of all defensive snaps. Shelton is big, strong run defender who does not make much noise as a pass rusher.

Mar 292021
 
Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions (November 28, 2019)

Kenny Golladay – © USA TODAY Sports

Teams were officially able to begin negotiating with free agents from other teams on March 15. So although it seems as if free agency has been going on for quite some time, we’re only still at the 2-week mark since it began. More signings will continue through the spring and summer, especially as players are cut. That said, the initial free agency rush is over and we can start to make some snap opinions on what the New York Giants have and have not accomplished.

The “need” level I reference was addressed in my March 12th Free Agency Preview for the team.

QUARTERBACKS (Previous Need Level – Medium): For at least one more season, Daniel Jones is the unquestioned starter. The expectation was that the team would re-sign Colt McCoy. However, the Giants surprisingly went in another direction by signing the well-traveled Mike Glennon as Jones’ back-up. Glennon is much bigger (half a foot taller) than McCoy with a much stronger arm. Both complete around 61 percent of their passes and both have started roughly the same number of NFL games. There were media whispers too that McCoy wanted more money than the Giants were willing to pay. On the surface, this appears to be a wash, although the coaches said McCoy was a very good influence on Jones in the meeting rooms. (Mike Glennon YouTube Highlights)

RUNNING BACKS (Previous Need Level – High to Desperate): Some chided my prediction that all three running backs behind Saquon Barkley may not return in 2021, but that appears in fact to be the case. As of this moment, Wayne Gallman, Alfred Morris, and Dion Lewis remain unsigned. So much of the team’s upcoming success will depend on how well Barkley returns from a major knee injury and whether he can stay healthy for a full season. It’s quite telling that the very first player the Giants signed in free agency was the relatively-unknown Devontae Booker to a 2-year, $5.5 million contract. Fan reaction was immediately negative. But it appears the coaching staff simply wanted a veteran back who was a more reliable blocker and receiver than Gallman. Depth behind Barkley still remains shaky as the only other halfbacks on the roster are NFL cast-offs Taquan Mizzell and Jordan Chunn. The Giants also added another fullback/special teams player in Cullen Gillaspia to compete with Eli Penny. (Devontae Booker YouTube Highlights)

WIDE RECEIVERS (Previous Need Level – Desperate): The Giants have significantly upgraded this position with the addition of one player to the tune of a 4-year, $72 million contract. Kenny Golladay is not only a true #1 receiver, but he fills a desperate need that this team had for a physical receiver with size. His presence also allows Darius Slayton to become the #2 and Sterling Shepard the slot receiver, roles that both are far better suited for. From Golladay’s style of play to the team’s extended wooing period to satisfy personality issues, this signing is highly reminiscent of the Giants’ signing of Plaxico Burress in 2005. And Golladay is quite capable of having a Plaxico-type impact on this team. In addition, before the Giants signed Golladay, they signed the 9th overall player taken in the 2017 NFL Draft, John Ross. While Ross did not live up to expectations in Cincinnati, he brings true deep speed to a team that desperately needs it. It would not be shocking to see Ross get cut, but it also would not be shocking for him to press for a starting job opposite of Golladay. In addition to wanting to prove doubters wrong, Ross will rejoin his old college receiving teammate, Dante Pettis, on what had been an explosive University of Washington receiving corps. Overall, the make-up of this unit is far different now than it was just two weeks ago. (John Ross YouTube Highlights)

TIGHT ENDS (Previous Need Level – Desperate): Right or wrong, the front office and coaching staff appear willing to continue to hope Evan Engram develops into the player hoped for when he was drafted in the 1st round of the 2017 NFL Draft. But the team decided to team him with a mentor. Kyle Rudolph has been one of the NFL’s best tight ends for the past 10 years. While not an explosive player, he can catch and block. Just as importantly, he is reliable, something Engram is not. The downside is that Rudolph turns 32 in November and is coming off a foot injury (The Athletic is reporting it is a Lisfranc injury) that required surgery AFTER the Giants signed him. Much depends on how well he recovers. On paper, if he is healthy, this looks like a major addition both in terms of helping out Daniel Jones and the offensive line. (Kyle Rudolph YouTube Highlights)

OFFENSIVE LINE (Previous Need Level – Medium): This is one area where it is debatable if the team has improved in free agency. The Giants were able to force Nate Solder to take a big pay cut to remain with the team. He will now compete against Matt Peart for the starting tackle spot opposite of Andrew Thomas. The Giants somewhat surprisingly simply cut Kevin Zeitler without approaching him about a pay cut. To fill that void, they signed right guard Zach Fulton, who had an inconsistent stay with the Houston Texans. Fulton will compete with Will Hernandez and Shane Lemieux for a starting spot. Fulton does not feel like an upgrade over Zeitler. Where the team probably did get better is at back-up center with the signing of Jonotthan Harrison back in January. He is a better player than Spencer Pulley. Look for the team to continue to address the offensive line in the upcoming draft.

DEFENSIVE LINE (Previous Need Level – Low to High Depending on Tomlinson): Undoubtedly, the biggest loss the team suffered in free agency was losing nose tackle Davlin Tomlinson to the Minnesota Vikings for what appeared to be a reasonable 2-year, $22 million contract. The Giants re-signed back-up nose tackle Austin Johnson to a 1-year, $3 million deal in anticipation of the loss. Johnson will now have to start at nose tackle or the team will be forced to move Dexter Lawrence from end, or sign a veteran or draft a player. Moving Lawrence seems like an obvious option, but that would have a domino effect in that B.J. Hill would probably then become the new starter at end opposite of Leonard Williams. Thus, what had been a somewhat shaky depth situation becomes even more dubious. The team was extremely fortunate in 2020 that no one got hurt up front. The only back-ups on the roster right now are R.J. McIntosh, David Moa, and Breeland Speaks, the latter signed by the Giants in January. Speaking of Williams, the Giants were able to re-sign him to a 3-year, $63 million deal. There will be tremendous pressure on him to live up to that contract.

(Late Note: The Giants signed 6’2”, 335-pound nose tackle Danny Shelton today. Drafted in the 1st round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns, Shelton was cut by the Detroit Lions and will help fill the void created by the departure of Tomlinson).

LINEBACKERS (Previous Need Level – High): On paper, the Giants lost one free agent (Kyler Fackrell) and signed three (Ifeadi Odenigbo, Reggie Ragland, Ryan Anderson). All three newcomers were relatively inexpensive, 1-year deals. Ragland will likely compete with Tae Crowder for the inside linebacker spot next to Blake Martinez. He has started 38 regular-season games in the NFL and is a former 2nd-round pick so he has a good shot to win that job. Anderson is another former 2nd-round pick who was stuck behind a plethora of outstanding outside linebackers in Washington. He is known more as an overachiever who saw most of his playing time on special teams, but he could surprise as his competition will be Lorenzo Carter (coming off of a torn Achilles), Oshane Ximines (coming off of shoulder surgery), and last year’s rookies (Carter Coughlin, Cam Brown, Niko Lalos). What about Odenigbo? Good question. He was the first defensive player the Giants signed in free agency. He played exclusively on the defensive line in Minnesota, primarily at end, but also shifting inside in pass-rush packages. However, his lack of size (6’3”, 258 pounds) strongly suggests he will be used like “linebacker” Jabaal Sheard was used by the Giants last year, that is, an edge rusher in 4-man pass rush packages. The Giants could also push him inside like the Vikings did in obvious passing situations in 4-man fronts. It is doubtful that he should be considered a true outside linebacker because he simply does not have experience dropping into coverage. Because of that, one could actually argue he should be included in the defensive line review. Also, the Giants did re-sign inside linebacker Devonta Downs, who started at inside linebacker for the Giants in 2020 until Tae Crowder beat him out. He will have to fight just to make the team however.

CORNERBACKS (Previous Need Level – Desperate): Like the wide receiving position, the make-up of this position completely changed with the addition of one free agent, adding Adoree’ Jackson to a 3-year, $39 million contract after he was cut by the Tennessee Titans. Opinions on his play vary, but Jackson is clearly a major upgrade over everyone else on the team’s roster with the exception of Pro Bowler James Bradberry. The former 1st rounder is a physical and aggressive press corner who plays with a lot of confidence. Depth is still a concern, but on paper, the Giants now look like they have one of the better secondaries in the NFL as long as Darnay Holmes continues to develop at slot corner.

SAFETIES (Previous Need Level – Low): While Adrian Colbert and Nate Ebner remain unsigned, the Giants still look to be in decent shape at this position with Jabrill Peppers, Xavier McKinney, Logan Ryan, and Julian Love – the latter two who can also play corner. Depth will be added later in free agency or the draft.

KICKERS/LONG SNAPPER (Previous Need Level – Low to Average Depending on Kreiter): When the Giants re-signed long snapper Casey Kreiter, this position was largely settled other than camp bodies. The only real question is are the Giants looking to upgrade at punter at some point.

SUMMARY: In my March 12th article, I argued this roster was a train wreck. Two weeks later, with the addition of 11 free agents and counting, it feels vastly different. It’s not just the quantity, but the quality. Keeping Leonard Williams was a big deal. Kenny Golladay and Adoree’ Jackson were two of the best, if not the very best, players available at desperate need positions.  If healthy, Kyle Rudolph could be a major addition as a security blanket for both Daniel Jones and the offensive line. Golladay and Jackson will start. Rudolph will be a quasi-starter. John Ross (1st rounder), Reggie Ragland (2nd rounder), Ryan Anderson (2nd rounder), and Zach Fulton might start. Devontae Booker is now the primary back-up behind Saquon Barkely, Ifeadi Odenigbo will add to the pass rush.

The risk? The money. While most of the deals were relatively cheap, the team did dole out $174 million on three players – Leonard Williams, Kenny Golladay, and Adoree’ Jackson. If they are wrong about any of these three, the team will be paying for it for years. We’ve seen that before and it’s one of the major reasons why the Giants have been mired in the basement of the NFL for a decade. One could also argue that the team should have allocated its resources a bit differently in order to keep Dalvin Tomlinson, extending his contract even last year.

Mar 252021
 
Zach Fulton, Houston Texans (January 5, 2019)

Zach Fulton – © USA TODAY Sports

GIANTS SIGN ZACH FULTON…
The New York Giants have officially signed free agent offensive guard Zach Fulton, who was cut by the Houston Texans last week. Terms of the deal are not yet publicly known.

The 29-year old, 6’5”, 321-pound Fulton was originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs. He spent four seasons with the Chiefs before signing with the Texans in 2018. In all, Fulton has played in 107 regular-season games with 90 starts. Fulton started 44 games at right guard for the Texans, including all 16 games in 2020. He has also started games at center and left guard in his career.

KYLER FACKRELL SIGNS WITH CHARGERS…
New York Giants unrestricted free agent linebacker Kyler Fackrell has signed with the Los Angeles Chargers. Terms of the deal are not yet publicly known.

The Giants signed Fackrell as an unrestricted free agent from the Green Bay Packers in March 2020. The team placed Fackrell on Injured Reserve in early December 2020 with a calf injury and activated him to the 53-man roster in early January 2021. In all, Fackrell played in 12 games with nine starts. He played in 56 percent of all defensive snaps and finished the season with 34 tackles, seven tackles for a loss, four sacks, 10 quarterback hits, two pass defenses, one interception that he returned for a touchdown, and one forced fumble. The 6’5”, 245-pound Fackrell was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers.

For a complete listing of free agent comings and goings, see the New York Giants 2021 Free Agency Scorecard section of the website.

Mar 242021
 
Devante Downs, New York Giants (October 22, 2020)

Devante Downs – © USA TODAY Sports

KYLE RUDOLPH TO HAVE FOOT SURGERY…
Although free agent tight end Kyle Rudolph officially signed his contract today, multiple media outlets are reporting there was a delay in doing so because the New York Giants were concerned about a foot injury he suffered last year with the Minnesota Vikings. Rudolph reportedly took his physical yesterday and the team’s medical staff believes Rudolph needs surgery on his foot. The NFL Network initially reported that both sides were discussing how best to proceed, but based on the team’s press release, Rudolph will undergo foot surgery.

It was certainly an interesting 24 hours,” said Rudolph. “One that was unexpected… It’s kind of a blessing that we’re able to find this issue. It was an issue from the season, we can fix it in March, and I won’t miss any football. I’m extremely excited to be a New York Giant and I feel like it’s a blessing that I’m able to deal with it now in March and not be a New York Giant and something that we deal with during the season. Like anything in life, I attack it head-on and I’ll attack this rehab process head-on and I look forward to being out there with my teammates when we start playing football…this is 100 percent what happened during the season that caused me to miss the last four games of the season. Everyone expected it to heal on its own and it didn’t. It needs to be fixed and like I said, I’m just extremely grateful for the Giants’ medical staff, Dr. Rodeo, everyone that was involved in the process. I’m excited to get it fixed and move past it.”

Rudolph was cut by the Vikings early this month. The Giants and Rudolph agreed to terms to a 2-year, $12 million contract that includes $4.5 million in guaranteed money last week. The NFL Network is reporting that the deal was not altered based on the injury situation.

GIANTS RE-SIGN DEVANTE DOWNS…
The New York Giants have re-signed unrestricted free agent inside linebacker Devante Downs, who the team chose not to tender as a restricted free agent. Terms of the deal are not yet known.

Downs began the 2020 season as a starter, but saw his playing time give way to Tae Crowder. Downs played in all 16 games with eight starts (21 percent of all defensive snaps). He finished the season with 33 tackles, one pass defense, and one fumble recovery.

The 6’2”, 252-pound Downs was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings waived him in late September 2019 and he was then signed by the Giants to their Practice Squad and 53-man roster in October 2019. Downs played in seven games for the Giants in 2019 on special teams.

GIANTS RESTRUCTURE CONTRACTS OF JAMES BRADBERRY AND BLAKE MARTINEZ…
In order to create more immediate cap space to pay for the team’s current free agent spending spree, the New York Giants and cornerback James Bradberry and linebacker Blake Martinez have agreed to restructured contracts. According to ESPN:

  • Bradberry had $8 million of his base salary converted into a signing bonus, creating $4 million in additional cap space.
  • Martinez had $7 million of his base salary converted into a signing bonus, creating $3.5 million in additional cap space.

The $7.5 million “saved” will now be tacked onto the 2022 NFL salary cap.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

Mar 232021
 
Ryan Anderson, Washington Football Team (November 8, 2020)

Ryan Anderson – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS SIGN RYAN ANDERSON…
Multiple media outlets are reporting that the New York Giants have signed unrestricted free agent outside linebacker Ryan Anderson (Washington Football Team) to a 1-year contract. The Bergen Record says his 2021 base salary is $990,000 and Anderson received a $137,000 signing bonus.

The 26-year old, 6’2”, 255-pound Anderson was originally drafted in the 2nd round of the 2017 NFL Draft by Washington. In four seasons with Washington, Anderson played in 52 regular-season games with only four starts, accruing 78 tackles, six sacks, one pass defense, five forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries. Anderson missed seven games due to a knee injury in 2020 and finished the season with just nine tackles.

Some highlights of Anderson are available on YouTube.

Mar 222021
 
Adoree' Jackson, Tennessee Titans  (January 4, 2020)

Adoree’ Jackson – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS SIGN ADOREE’ JACKSON…
Multiple media outlets are reporting that the New York Giants have signed free agent cornerback Adoree’ Jackson, who was cut by the Tennessee Titans last week. The contract is reportedly a 3-year, $39 million deal that includes $26.5 million in guaranteed money.

The 25-year old, 5’11”, 185-pound Jackson was drafted by the Titans in the 1st round of the 2017 NFL Draft. In his four seasons with the Titans, Jackson played in 46 regular-season games, with 41 starts, accruing 189 tackles, 33 pass defenses, two interceptions, and three forced fumbles. He missed most of the 2020 NFL season with a knee injury, playing in just the last three games.

COACHING STAFF CHANGES…
According to Giants.com, the team has made a number of changes to the assistant coaching staff:

  • Anthony Blevins is now the assistant linebackers coach/special teams assistant (he was the assistant defensive backs coach).
  • Mike Treier is now the assistant defensive backs coach (he was the defensive quality control coach).
  • Nick Williams is now the offensive quality control coach (he was an offensive assistant).
  • Jody Wright is now a defensive assistant (he was an offensive assistant).

A complete listing of the coaching staff is available in our Coach Staff section of the website.

 

Mar 202021
 
Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions (November 24, 2019)

Kenny Golladay – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS SIGN KENNY GOLLADAY
Multiple media outlets are reporting that the New York Giants have signed unrestricted free agent wide receiver Kenny Golladay (Detroit Lions). The NFL Network is reporting that the contract is a 4-year, $72 million deal that includes $40 million in guaranteed money.

The 27-year old, 6’4”, 214-pound Golladay was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Lions. After a nondescript rookie season, Golladay excelled his next two seasons, catching 70 passes for 1,063 yards and five touchdowns in 2018 and 65 catches for 1,190 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2019. Golladay missed 11 games in 2020 with hamstring and hip injuries. He finished with just 20 catches for 338 yards and two touchdowns in five games. Golladay combines excellent size and speed and has a knack for beating defensive backs for contested 50/50 balls.

ADOREE’ JACKSON VISITING GIANTS ON SUNDAY…
Multiple media outlets are reporting that free agent cornerback Adoree’ Jackson, who was cut by the Tennessee Titans on Tuesday, will visit the New York Giants on Sunday. He is also scheduled to meet with the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday.

The 25-year old, 5’11”, 185-pound Jackson was drafted by the Titans in the 1st round of the 2017 NFL Draft. In his four seasons with the Titans, Jackson played in 46 regular-season games, with 41 starts, accruing 189 tackles, 33 pass defenses, two interceptions, and three forced fumbles. He missed most of the 2020 NFL season with a knee injury, playing in just the last three games.

 

Mar 192021
 
Reggie Ragland, Detroit Lions (September 27, 2020)

Reggie Ragland – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS SIGN REGGIE RAGLAND
The NFL Network is reporting that the New York Giants have signed unrestricted free agent inside linebacker Reggie Ragland (Detroit Lions) to 1-year contract. The Athletic is reporting that the deal is worth $1,127,500 with $137,500 in guaranteed money.

The 27-year old, 6’2”, 252-pound Ragland was originally drafted in the 2nd round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills. He missed his rookie season after tearing the ACL in his left knee and was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs before the 2017 season. Ragland has spent time with the Bills (2016), Chiefs (2017-2019), and Detroit Lions (2020). He has played in 58 regular-season games with 38 starts, accruing 203 tackles, 3.5 sacks, two pass defenses, one interception, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. Ragland played in all 16 regular-season games for the Lions in 2020 with six starts and was credited with 49 tackles and one sack.

For a complete overview of the team’s free agent activity, see the 2021 Free Agency Scorecard section of the website.