Our offseason roundup through the NFC East moves on to the New York Giants this week. In case you missed it, last week’s installment took a look at the Philadelphia Eagles, who bandaged a wide receiver group that had been sorely lacking in talent, through free agency and the draft.
Now, let’s check out what has happened in the Big Apple since the Redskins were sent packing in Week 17 of last year.
Record in 2016: 11-5, finished second in NFC East.
Who’s in: WR Brandon Marshall (FA), OL D.J. Fluker (FA), TE Rhett Ellison (FA), TE Evan Engram (R1), DT Dalvin Tomlinson (R2), DE Avery Moss (R5)
Who’s out: DL Johnathan Hankins, WR Victor Cruz, K Robbie Gould, CB Coty Sensabaugh, OL Marshall Newhouse
Good job: Every time the Redskins play the Giants the headlines will always be about Odell Beckham Jr. The thing is, the most important thing the Giants did this offseason was diversify their offensive attack so that things don’t have to be all about Odell anymore. New York drafted tight end Engram, who is really a giant slot receiver, to create instant mismatches. Quarterback Eli Manning has been around the block, but Engram’s presence will make deciphering coverages easier and add a threat over the middle that should open things up for Beckham on the outside. Teams can’t just play Cover 2 against the Giants all the time anymore, and that’s a big difference.
The Giants also signed Brandon Marshall. Marshall agreed to a cost-conscious two-year, $11 million deal after he was released by the Jets. Marshall gets to stay in New York and take advantage of playing with Manning and Beckham.
Bad job: The Giants‘ offensive line, though, lost Newhouse to Oakland. GM Jerry Reese signed inconsistent D.J. Fluker from the then-San Diego Chargers to play (probably) right guard. Newhouse had been a regular, and losing consistency without getting a clear upgrade in talent isn’t ideal for linemen. Engram is great for the passing game, but he’s not a blocking tight end, either. Ellison is, but it’s hard to see him getting a ton of snaps without negating some of the positive gains made by drafting Engram and adding to the wideout group. Undrafted rookie Jarron Jones has been asked to switch from defensive line to offensive tackle. Smart move if it works out, but it’s a little desperate. It’s hard to imagine the Giants putting together a potent rushing attack.
On defense, the Giants let Hankins go to Indianapolis on a three-year deal worth up to $30 million. New York is spending a lot of money on its defensive line as it is, so letting Hankins go is a reasonable decision, but the two sides were reportedly not far off in money and Hankins was a valuable asset.
Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul, whom the Giants signed to a four-year, $62 million deal, are both superb against the run but weren’t productive sacking the quarterback last season. Maybe that changes — they both are plenty talented — but if it doesn’t, the Giants are counting on rookies Tomlinson and Moss to get at quarterbacks. This seems like an iffy plan. Moss was a fifth-round pick and Tomlinson is more of a run-stuffing type similar to Damon “Snacks” Harrison.
Any lack of pass-rush is mostly mitigated by the fact that the Giants get excellent cornerback play from Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple. The concern, however, is that the team lost depth behind them. Sensabaugh was a nice piece who will be missed if one of those starters misses any significant time and, if the defensive front plays like it did last season, the defense as a whole would suffer in that situation.
Weird: Here’s a new one. Gould, the kicker, signed with San Francisco during the offseason and the sole player the Giants brought in to replace him? Aldrick Rosas, a 22-year-old who was a college kicker for Southern Oregon (NAIA), missed all of 2015 with a torn ACL, given a shot by the Titans last year but released before the end of preseason, and who looks like the only kicker on the Giants roster heading into training camp.
Bottom line: It’s easy to forget that, last December, the Giants were getting Super Bowl buzz. New York made a number of splashy moves last offseason that worked out quite well. As a result, this offseason was relatively tame, particularly as Reese and Co. found themselves hard up against the cap. The Giants are a good team, but spending big in free agency often means making concessions and sacrificing depth in subsequent years and, this year, New York’s offseason left something to be desired.
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