Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports reported the news via Twitter on Wednesday shortly after the two sides reached a deal:
Giants to sign DE Robert Ayers, per source. Two-year deal.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) April 2, 2014
Ayers spent five seasons with the Broncos after being drafted out of Tennessee in the first round of the 2009 NFL draft. He appeared in 15 games during the 2013 season and finished his tenure in Denver with a total of 102 total tackles and 12 sacks.
Ayers spoke about his reasoning for signing with the Giants, per Michael Eisen of Giants.com:
This is a tremendous opportunity for me, coming to a great organization like this. They hate losing and they’re always about getting better and preparing and I’ve heard nothing but good things about the general manager and the owners, the coaches.
Everyone speaks highly of them across the league. They’re a blue-collar organization, and I’m looking forward to being part of that. I left the Denver Broncos, who were a good organization, and I feel like I’m going to just as good or better of an organization. It’s going to be good to come here and be with leaders like Jon Beason and Antrel Rolle and Eli (Manning). It’s going to be a good experience for me, and hopefully I can help this team win.
The move also provides New York with a player that can move to anywhere on the field and thrive. Ayers' athleticism allowed him to play at multiple positions with the Broncos, something he went into depth about after signing, via Eisen:
That’s something I was able to do in Denver, something I brought to the team. I’m able to play most of the positions, whether it was right defensive end, left defensive end, inside guy. I’ve done a lot of move-around, floating type stuff. I think that’s one of the things that the Giants saw that I could do, play a lot of different things. I’ve played a lot of different positions in my five-year career.
New York's signing of Ayers comes shortly after one of the best players for the franchise over the past few seasons signed with another team in free agency. The loss of Justin Tuck, who signed with the Oakland Raiders, meant the Giants needed to address the depth along the defensive line.
But with Ayers now joining the Giants, Art Stapleton of The Record shares his thoughts on how it helps the franchise after losing Tuck:
Robert Ayers' game fits exactly what #NYG are missing in their DL rotation in Justin Tuck's departure. I believe deal gets done.— Art Stapleton (@art_stapleton) April 2, 2014
Robert Ayers wore 91 in Denver, so this isn't a "hey, let's give him Tuck's number" move by #NYG. But I would've asked him to take another.— Art Stapleton (@art_stapleton) April 2, 2014
Outside of his pass-rushing abilities, Pete Damilatis of Pro Football Focus notes that Ayers is also an outstanding player when it comes to stopping the run:
Robert Ayers is a nice signing for the Giants. 9th-best run D grade of any 4-3 DE last season (Tuck was 8th).— Pete Damilatis (@PFF_Pete) April 2, 2014
Ayers finished last season with 29 total tackles, 5.5 sacks and two tackles for loss. He also came away with a huge sack against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game to help propel the team to the Super Bowl.
The move also means that the Giants can focus on a position of more pressing need in the 2014 NFL draft to continue to build toward getting back to the Super Bowl.
With the aforementioned re-signing of Jon Beason for the upcoming season, New York now has a wealth of talent on the defensive side of the ball. If he plays to the same potential that he did for Denver during 2013, the Giants once again could have a stout defensive line.
Ayers not only brings a toughness to the Giants that they need on the defensive line, but also helps them work toward returning to the top of the NFC East division.
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