After two solid weeks of free-agent (FA) spending, the Giants have re-signed three players from last year’s team while adding eleven (11) new (and mostly young) veterans.
With the exception of Kyle Rudolph and backup QB Mike Glennon (both age 31), every FA signed by the Giants is still in his 20s. In 2020, the Giants were already one of the youngest teams (Avg 25.7).
After the draft, they will most likely get a little younger for 2021.
Head Coach Joe Judge has told the FAs that the Giants’ vision is to build a long-term successful team.
The Athletic’s Dan Duggan wrote an excellent article on how the Giants, with an eye on the future years, turned a dismal salary cap situation into a windfall of cap space and the ability to sign three top free agents while adding other key contributors for the 2021 season. Make no mistake, there were tough decisions the team had to make in letting go of DL Dalvin Tomlinson and releasing G Kevin Zeitler.
I would have added letting OLB/Edge Kyler Fackrell move on will hurt. But, signing DE Ifeadi Odenigbo could easily be an upgrade if used as an OLB/Edge. Odenigbo stated in his media interview he has only played from a three-point stance. The Giants play their OLBs and Edge from mostly stand-up starts.
There is a risk, and GM Dave Gettleman and Head Coach Joe Judge are playing some high-stakes poker so far in free agency. They are betting on health and a return to full-time availability and top performance of the major players they signed. WR Kenny Golladay (hip), CB Adoree Jackson (knee), WR John Ross (foot), and TE Kyle Rudolph (foot) all missed significant time during the 2020 season. In fact, Rudolph will undergo foot surgery as soon as possible to repair damage from his foot injury last season. The doctors discovered during his Giants’ physical that his foot had not healed properly. Both Rudolph and the Giants believe he’ll be ready to go by preseason camp.
Also part of the risk…can John Ross consistently catch the ball? While Golladay is the FA prize at WR, Ross is a speedster that can stretch the field and open up offenses for multiple types of plays. But he’s rarely double-teamed because of his propensity to not make the contested catch, sometimes even drop the easy ball. The rap on Ross for his young career has been his hands and his ability to stay on the field. A little-known snippet is that the Bengals were considering moving Ross to cornerback last November before Ross landed on injured reserve (IR) for the remainder of the season. Hmmm…versatility…a favorite Joe Judge trait.
However, the risk-reward meter after just these two weeks of free agency is definitely pointing toward the reward side. The defense remains the strength of this team and got stronger in the linebackers and secondary.
The Giants’ offense clearly got better at WR. At RB, Saquon returns in 2021. Despite the loss of 2020 workhorse Wayne Gallman at RB, the signing of Devontae Booker can be viewed as an upgrade behind Saquon Barkley. Booker can run, catch and block. Gallman may still return to the Giants. His FA activity seems to be quiet. I think the backfield of Barkley, Booker, and Gallman would be very impressive–not to mention a catchy legal firm.
The quiet signing of backup QB Mike Glennon seems to be staying under the radar for fans. Glennon has been a starter in the NFL including five last year for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Like Daniel Jones, he has a big arm and is able to throw downfield. For that reason, he’s better than Colt McCoy. The offensive line took a hit with the loss of Zeitler.
The Giants have added two veteran linemen in FA, Jonathan Harrison (G/C) and Zach Fulton (G). Both have started in the NFL and both are also still young. With Nate Solder returning, there’s good depth at Tackle as well.
The players are sold on the team’s vision. And the new Giants are getting positive vibes from everyone in the organization.
The Giants have put themselves into an excellent position of flexibility in how they can approach the 2021 draft.
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