Mar 092016
 
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Olivier Vernon, Miami Dolphins (January 3, 2016)

Olivier Vernon – © USA TODAY Sports Images

GIANTS AGREE TO TERMS WITH OLIVIER VERNON…
Multiple media sources are reporting that the New York Giants have agreed to terms with unrestricted free agent defensive end Olivier Vernon (Miami Dolphins). The contract is reportedly a 5-year, $85 million deal that includes $52.5 million in guaranteed money. The Jacksonville Jaguars were very much in play for his services as well.

The 25-year old Vernon was originally drafted in the 3rd round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Dolphins. In the last three seasons, he has played in every regular-season game with 46 starts, averaging 55 tackles and 8.5 sacks per year. Vernon is a very good two-way player who is disruptive against both the run and the pass. He can get heat on the quarterback from both the end and tackle positions, similar to Justin Tuck, and gets a lot of hits on the quarterback.

VICTOR CRUZ AND GIANTS WORKING ON NEW DEAL…
The Bergen Record is reporting that wide receiver Victor Cruz and the New York Giants are working on a re-structured contract that will keep him with the team in 2016. The Record’s source is optimistic the deal will be completed. Cruz is currently set to count $9.9 million against the team’s 2016 NFL cap. It has been speculated that if Cruz, who missed most of the last two seasons with serious leg injuries, does not accept a pay cut, he may be released from the Giants.

MARCH 9, 2016 NEW YORK GIANTS FREE AGENT NEWS AND RUMORS (PART III)…
March 9th marks the official beginning of free agency as teams can begin to sign free agents of other teams at 4:00 PM. Here is the latest:

  • New York Giants unrestricted free agent Robert Ayers is visiting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
  • The New York Giants had reportedly expressed interest in unrestricted free agents wide receiver Mohamed Sanu (Cincinnati Bengals), right tackle Mitchell Schwartz (Cleveland Browns), and right tackle Bobby Massie (Arizona Cardinals), but all three players signed with other teams.

JASON PIERRE-PAUL COMMENTS ON HIS RETURN TO THE GIANTS…
As previously reported, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul has re-signed with the New York Giants. The contract was reportedly a 1-year, $10.5 million deal. Pierre-Paul suffered serious and permanent injuries to his right hand from a July 4th fireworks accident, including the amputation of his index finger and severe damage to his thumb and middle finger. He returned to the playing field halfway through the 2015 season, wearing a large club that made it impossible for him to grab and tackle with his right hand. Pierre-Paul started the eight games he played in and finished the season with 26 tackles, 1 sack, and 6 pass defenses.

“I have one year to prove myself, but all I need is one,” Pierre-Paul said. “I appreciate the Giants allowing me to come back and play here. But it was my decision. I have unfinished business. I know for a fact that I can play better than I did last year. My main goal is to get on the field this year without the club and play some good football. We’ll see from there.”

Pierre-Paul underwent additional surgery on his right hand after the season in the hopes that he can shed the club and wear a glove.

“It’s definitely going to help,” Pierre-Paul said of the surgery. “I’ll be able to grab. Now I’ll be able to open my hand up. My fingers are straight, and I’ll be fine. You’re limited with the club. I’d rather play with one finger than have a club on. Even with the club, even with my injury, I’m still the best at my position. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here. I think I played pretty well. With the club, people didn’t expect me to play the way I played. I played every down. It was just eight games – I was just getting started.

“I want to be a part of the turnaround. I want to bring my game to another level. With the injury I had, I want to show people that at the end of the day, no matter what happens, you can overcome it in life. I missed training camp (last offseason), I missed a lot of things. As much as I hate training camp, you need it. That’s two years that I missed training camp, one with my back surgery and another with my hand. Hopefully, this will be an injury-free season, and I’ll be out there playing great football.”

Mar 072016
 
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George Iloka, Cincinnati Bengals (September 20, 2015)

George Iloka – © USA TODAY Sports Images

MARCH 7, 2016 NEW YORK GIANTS FREE AGENT RUMORS…
While players can not officially sign until March 9th, Monday unofficially marked the beginning of free agency as teams can now negotiate with free agents of other teams. Here is the latest:

  • ESPN is reporting that free agent defensive end Charles Johnson, who was recently cut by the Carolina Panthers in a salary cap-related move, met with the New York Giants on Sunday and Monday. If the Giants and Johnson do not agree on a contract, he is reportedly scheduled to meet with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next. From 2010-2014, Johnson averaged 43 tackles and 10.5 sacks per year. Those numbers plummeted in 2015 when Johnson missed seven regular-season games with a hamstring injury and finished the year with 12 tackles and one sack. He had an excellent game in the Super Bowl with five tackles, one sack, and a forced fumble. Overall, Johnson accrued nine tackles, three sacks, and two forced fumbles in three post-season games last season.
  • Following up on yesterday’s update, there is no new information on free agent defensive end Mario Williams visiting the Giants. BleacherReport.com is reporting that the Giants, Dolphins, and Jaguars are interested in Williams, who supposedly is seeking a $10 million-per-year contract. The 31-year old Williams was recently released by the Bills. Miscast in a 3-4 defense, Williams started 15 games for the Bills in 2015 and finished the season with just 19 tackles and five sacks. From 2012-2014, Williams averaged 34 tackles and 13 sacks per season. He is a four-time Pro Bowler (2008, 2009, 2013, 2014) and was first-team All Pro in 2014.
  • The New York Daily News is reporting that the New York Giants are interested in Atlanta Falcons unrestricted free agent defensive end Adrian Clayborn. Several other teams are also said to be interested in Clayborn, who was originally drafted in the 1st round of the 2011 NFL Draft. He missed most of the 2012 season with a knee injury and most of the 2014 season with a biceps injury. The Falcons signed Clayborn as a free agent in 2015. Last season, he played in all 16 regular-season games with four starts, finishing the year with 15 tackles and three sacks.
  • The Cincinnati Enquirer is reporting that the New York Giants are one of several teams interested in Cincinnati Bengals unrestricted free agent safety George Iloka. The 25-year old Iloka was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He has started all 44 regular-season games he played in the last three seasons, including 12 games in 2015 where he accrued 47 tackles and one interception.
  • The Cleveland Plains Dealer is reporting that the New York Giants have expressed interest in Cleveland Browns unrestricted free agent Mitchell Schwartz, the brother of recently-waived guard Geoff Schwartz. The 26-year old Schwartz was originally drafted in the 2nd round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Browns. He has started every game during his first four years in the NFL.
  • The St. Paul Pioneer Press is reporting that the New York Giants have expressed interest in Minnesota Vikings unrestricted free agent offensive guard Mike Harris. The 27-year old Harris was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the San Diego Chargers after the 2012 NFL Draft. He started all 16 regular-season games for the Vikings in 2015.
  • A media report out of Arizona says the Cardinals are interested in signing New York Giants unrestricted free agent defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.
  • BleacherReport.com is reporting that New York Giants unrestricted free agent defensive end Robert Ayers is seeking a $10 million-per-year contract.

GIANTS AND VICTOR CRUZ TALK RESTRUCTURING…
ESPN.com is reporting that the New York Giants had discussions last week with the representatives for wide receiver Victor Cruz about restructuring his contract. Cruz is currently set to count $9.9 million against the team’s 2016 NFL cap, the second most by a player after quarterback Eli Manning. It has been speculated that if Cruz does not accept a pay cut, he may be released from the Giants. Cruz recently said that he believed there was an “80 percent” chance he would return to Giants.

Cruz did not play in any preseason or regular-season games in 2015. Cruz was placed on Injured Reserve in November 2015 due to a left calf injury suffered in August that never healed and required surgery. It is the third leg injury that Cruz has suffered since signing his big 6-year contract in July 2013, including arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in 2013 and career-threatening patellar tendon surgery on his right knee in 2014.

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