Three Big Free Agent Targets for the New York Giants
The 2020 NFL offseason will be a big one for the New York Giants. With free agency right around the corner, it’s time to dive in and examine three free agents Dave Gettleman should consider signing.
Another season of NFL football has come to a close. This of course means the beginning of another long offseason. And for the New York Football Giants, it is a very critical one. Following a playoff birth in the 2016 season, the Giants have gone 12-36 in the three seasons since, the worst in the NFL over that span. With how bad the team has been, Giants fans and more importantly ownership are starting to become impatient with general manager Dave Gettleman. If improvement isn’t imminent, the Giants could easily be looking for a new general manager at the end of 2020.
It isn’t just a crucial offseason because of Gettleman’s job security though. It’s crucial when you look at the Giants roster. Their hopeful franchise quarterback, Daniel Jones, will be 23 in May and is entering his second season with four years left on his rookie contract with the fourth year being a team option. Their superstar running back, Saquon Barkley, is 23 and entering his third season with three years left on his contract, the third being a team option. Meaning the Giants only have several years left to determine what to do with both of their franchise pieces. If Jones fails to live up to expectations and Barkley continues to struggle like it did in 2019, the Giants will find themselves back to square one once again.
That’s why this upcoming season is so crucial for the Giants rebuild. They have to start showing improvement and get closer to contending. That’s because eventually, they’ll have to pay their young players. This would use up more cap space and make it harder for the Giants to fill out the rest of their roster. Which is why New York needs to take a big step forward next season. If they finish near the bottom of the NFL again, things could get out of hand once again.
This is where the 2020 offseason comes into play, or more importantly, free agency. With the cuts of Kareem Martin and Alec Ogletree, The Giants currently have $73.3 million in cap room, sixth most in the NFL. With so much cap money in a solid free agency class, Big Blue could start accelerating their rebuild fairly quickly with the right moves. So let’s dive in and see what signings could be in Gettleman’s best interest to pull the trigger on this offseason.
Free Agency: Yannick Ngakoue
Of all the potential free agents that could be available, Yannick Ngakoue has to be atop the Giants list. The soon to be 25-year-old defensive end has been a force on the Jacksonville Jaguars defensive line. In four seasons with Jacksonville, Ngakoue has recorded 37.5 total sacks with no less than eight in a season. He had a career year in 2017, recording 12 sacks. As the cherry on top, his durability is also impressive. Out of 64 total games the Jaguars have played, Ngakoue has played in 63 of them.
Yannick Ngakoue isn’t just one of the best players on the free agent market, he’s exactly the type of premier pass rusher the Giants need. One of the biggest problems with the Giants the past three seasons has been their pass rush, or lack thereof. In 2017, the Giants recorded 27 total sacks, tied with the Buffalo Bills for the third worst in the NFL. It didn’t get much better in 2018, as New York recorded 30 sacks, tied with the New England Patriots for second worst in the league. Finally, the Giants recorded 36 sacks in 2019, ranked 22nd among the 32 teams. Signing Yannick Ngakoue is a move that would help fill a major hole on the Giants roster.
Not only would signing Yannick Ngakoue be arguably the biggest move the Giants could make, it’s possibly the most likely. While Jacksonville could technically franchise tag him, it’s highly unlikely they’ll be able to given their cap situation. The Jaguars are currently projected to have $-1.5 million in cap space, the third least in the NFL. Last but not least, Ngakoue seems to be interesting in joining the Giants, hinting at the notion multiple times on social media. As the cherry on top, according to ESPN’s Jordan Raanan, the Giants are expected to have serious interest in Ngakoue once free agency opens. With apparent mutual interest from both sides, it wouldn’t be a shocker to see a deal come to fruition.
Free Agency: Byron Jones
Following the release of veteran cornerback Janoris Jenkins, it’s more clear than ever the Giants have a need at corner. As of right now, that would place second-year back DeAndre Baker on top of the Giants cornerback depth chart. Baker struggled throughout most of his rookie season, both on the field with his play as well as his work ethic being questioned numerous times. While it’s still too early to label Baker as a bust, he’s shown very little to make you feel comfortable having him as your top corner.
This is where signing Dallas Cowboys Byron Jones comes into play. Jones played his first three seasons as a safety, but ultimately transferred to corner in 2018. And if Jones’s past two seasons are any indication, that transition has been a success. According to Next Gen Stats, Jones has forced the highest percentage of tight-window throws in the NFL since 2018 among players with at least 100 targets at 44.1 percent. As the cherry on top, he’s 27 years of age and doesn’t turn 28 until late September.
However, what are the chances of a Byron Jones to Giants signing actually happening? Honestly it’s hard to tell. The Cowboys currently have the fifth most cap space in the NFL at $74 million. So on paper, you’d like their chances to resign him. However, two of their best and most important players, Dak Presscott and Amari Cooper, are free agents as well. With all three looking to command top dollar, are the Cowboys willing to use that much cap?
According to CBS Sports, Byron Jones could command $16 million per year. Furthermore, both the Giants and their division rival Philadelphia Eagles are expected to be in the mix to land Jones. The Eagles are potentially the biggest threat to land Jones by far. Not only are they a team ready to compete, they’re in desperate need of a top corner. However, the Eagles have just the 18th most cap space in the league at $46.2 million. With more cap space, the Giants could potentially offer Jones a bigger contract than the Eagles. All in all, while a Byron Jones signing isn’t exactly likely, it’s still a possibility that Dave Gettleman should pursue.
Free Agency: Connor McGovern
It’s no secret that the Giants offensive line has been a major issue for some time now. Excluding 2019, where they showed slight improvement, New York’s offensive line has been arguably the worst in the NFL for the better part of the past four seasons. While both guard positions are solid with Will Hernandez and Kevin Zeitler, the Giants still have holes at both tackles and center. Thankfully, the Giants have the opportunity to address the latter in free agency.
Connor McGovern has spent the first three years of his career on the Denver Broncos offensive line. Despite starting out as a right guard in 2017, McGovern split time between center and right guard in 2018 and became a full-time center in 2019. 2019 was also his most impressive pro season by far, starting all 16 games and playing 1014 snaps. Most of all, he did not commit even one penalty and allowed just one sack. As the cherry on top, he only turns 27 in April and has shown no sign of slowing down. Because of the sheer value McGovern brings at a position of need, he should definitely be high up on the Giants free agency target list.
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