Can anyone remember a time when the New York Giants have been this proactive in free agency?
I’ll give you a few minutes to think about that while you continue to towel yourself off from what’s been one of the most active and biggest splashes made by the Giants in the first week of free agency in years.
Whereas most teams generally make their biggest moves in the first 48 hours of the league’s annual signing frenzy, the Giants saved their one of their biggest moves for last.
That move would be the signing of unrestricted free agent cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the last of the remaining big-name cornerbacks on the market, to a five-year deal worth up to $39 million.
With Rodgers-Cromartie apparently having landed the biggest of the free agent contracts handed out by the Giants thus far, what does this mean for New York moving forward?
Good things. Lots of good things.
A Position of Need is Filled
Early on in free agency, the Giants re-signed cornerback Trumaine McBride to what Jordan Raanan of NJ.com reports is a two-year deal worth $3.1 million. At the time, that seemed like a bargain for a player who finished last season as the starter.
As word began to trickle out about the Giants’ interest in some of the top corners around the NFL—Vacchiano reported early interest in former Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner and Green Bay’s Sam Shields—it became obvious that the Giants wanted something a lot more at cornerback.
As the cornerback market began to skyrocket, it also began to look as though the Giants, who despite having a surplus of cap space remained judicious in their spending, might have to look to the draft to find a complement to Prince Amukamara.
It also became obvious that the short-term deals signed by McBride (two years) and Walter Thurmond (one year, per Vacchiano) were probably stopgap solutions.
While the Giants could still look to add a cornerback in the draft—and I think they might—I no longer think it will be in the first round. This thanks to the addition of Rodgers-Cromartie.
Improved Pass Coverage
Last season, the Giants defense finished eighth overall in the league (average yards/game allowed), and 10th against the pass.
While those are not horrible numbers, a closer look shows that there was still room for improvement, improvement that a healthy and productive Rodgers-Cromartie can potentially bring to the table with his skill set, particularly in coverage.
The following table shows how the Giants cornerbacks from last season—McBride, Amukamara, Aaron Ross, Terrell Thomas, Jayron Hosley, Charles James and Corey Webster—collectively fared in coverage against how Rodgers-Cromartie alone performed.
Remember, the lower the NFL rating for a coverage defender, the better:
|2013: Giants Corners vs. DRC|
|No. Passes Completed||Yards||TDs||INTs||PDs||NFL Rating|
|Pro Football Focus (subscription required)|
Certainly one man can’t do it alone in coverage—a solid pass rush helps. However, based on last season’s stats, Rodgers-Cromartie was far more productive than the Giants cornerbacks combined.
If DRC builds off last season, just think of how much better the Giants pass defense will be in 2014.
Except, of course, if you happen to be a part of a team that has to actually face the Giants.
If you look at the new players signed by the Giants in free agency, the majority of them have something in common besides their path to get to New York (free agency).
The majority of them were with clubs that were in the postseason last year.
Here's the list: Rodgers-Cromartie, WR/PR Trindon Holliday and center J.D. Walton (Denver); Walter Thurmond (Seattle); WR Mario Manningham (San Francisco); and S/KR Quintin Demps and OL Geoff Schwartz (Kansas City).
Why is that important? Because to mash up a popular phrase once applied to pass-rushers, you can never have too many winners on your roster. They can show those who maybe don't quite get it or who are just happy to be on a NFL roster how it's done.
In Rodgers-Cromartie’s case, he comes from a Broncos team that, although on the wrong end of the ledger in the most recent Super Bowl, the experience is still relatively fresh for him to pass along to his new teammates.
Add that kind of experience into the mix along with returning vets who still have that hunger to be champions again, and there is certainly more than enough leadership now available to help guide the younger players who haven't been there yet focused.