New York Giants Players Most Likely to Be Cut Before 2017 Season
The New York Giants are still a long way off from finalizing their 53-man roster, something they will do on September 2, when the league mandates the cut down from 90 players to 53.
This year, head coach Ben McAdoo and his staff have some difficult decisions to make, especially when it comes to some of the team's veteran players looking to hang on to roster spots.
Here is a look at some of those veterans who just might need a little bit more than a strong summer to be on the opening-day roster.
WR Roger Lewis
Even before he ran afoul of the law in early June, receiver Roger Lewis was far from being a lock to make the roster.
Lewis, who last year made the roster as an undrafted free agent out of Bowling Green, was active for 13 games, with one start. He caught seven out of 19 pass targets for 97 yards and two touchdowns, with the majority of those pass targets coming in the middle of the season.
That's a less than impressive 36.8 conversion percentage turned in by Lewis on pass targets thrown his way.
In the Giants' final five games, including their wild-card showdown, Lewis was held without a reception and appeared to be passed over in favor of Tavarres King, who this spring has had some chances with the first-team offense ahead of Lewis.
TE Will Tye
The Giants tight end competition took on an interesting twist over the spring thanks to third-year player Matt LaCosse's solid showing.
LaCosse, like rookie first-round pick Evan Engram, lined up in multiple spots, with the coaching staff trying to take advantage of his 6'5", 261-pound frame to create mismatches.
With LaCosse having done well in the spring, and assuming the Giants stick with four tight ends, that could mean the end of the line for Will Tye, who served as the starter for parts of the past two seasons.
Last year, Tye caught 49 of 67 pass targets, but where he came up short is in his yards after the catch (YAC).
In 2016, 161 of Tye's 395 receiving yards came after the catch, putting him 71st in the NFC among tight ends and receivers.
The 25-year-old's best chance of sticking around, outside of having a strong camp, is an injury to either LaCosse or Rhett Ellison.
DEs Kerry Wynn and Owa Odighizuwa
The Giants remain in search of a viable third defensive end who can provide spot relief for starters Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul, both of whom logged over 90 percent of the defensive snaps last year.
They added rookie draft pick Avery Moss, a guy defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has said reminded him physically of Hugh Douglas, whom he coached when the two were with the Philadelphia Eagles.
They also signed defensive end Devin Taylor to a one-year deal, giving them a player who can play some snaps inside at defensive tackle in certain packages.
The additions of Moss and Taylor to a group that already includes Pierre-Paul and Vernon means, at best, there is probably one more roster spot to be earned at defensive end.
Among those scheduled to compete for that spot are fourth-year pro Kerry Wynn, third-year pro Owa Odighizuwa and second-year pro Romeo Okwara.
Odighizuwa, the team's third-round pick in 2015, missed the OTAs and was excused by McAdoo from the mandatory minicamp to attend to personal reasons. It's not known whether he will be returning to the club in time for the start of the training camp on July 27, nor is it known how far behind he might be in his development.
Wynn, who had a strong rookie season, appears to have leveled off the past two years. When Pierre-Paul went down with a season-ending core muscle injury, it was Okwara, then a rookie, who got the starting nod ahead of Wynn.
Although the coaching staff will tell you last year is last year, that subtle decision provided some insight into just how far Okwara came as a rookie versus how slowly both Wynn and Odighizuwa came along despite having multiple years in the league.
QB Josh Johnson
Coming into the spring, Josh Johnson was thought to have an edge over Geno Smith in the backup quarterback competition, an advantage given to Johnson because of his year in the system last season, as well as his health.
Despite those "advantages," the one thing the 31-year-old Johnson doesn't have that Smith does is regular-season experience. Johnson has thrown just 177 regular-season passes (with 97 completions).
Smith has not only thrown more passes as a one-time starting quarterback, but he had a solid stretch of football toward the end of his second season. Per Inside Football, he finished his second NFL season completing 88 of 134 pass attempts (65.7 percent) for 1,155 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions behind a shoddy offensive line that allowed 13 sacks over that same period.
If Smith can recapture his mojo from that period during the preseason, he should be the obvious choice to beat out Johnson.
RB Shaun Draughn
Veteran running back Shaun Draughn is another player added before the draft, perhaps as veteran insurance in case the Giants hadn't been able to come away with a running back in the draft.
Fourth-round pick Wayne Gallman, starter Paul Perkins and veteran Shane Vereen are the roster locks. Assuming the Giants keep four running backs, that fourth spot will likely come down to either Orleans Darkwa or Draughn.
Darkwa doesn’t have as much experience as Draughn—he entered the league in 2014 as a member of the Miami Dolphins practice squad before being signed by the Giants, whereas Draughn has been in the league since 2011.
In terms of productivity, Darkwa has averaged 3.8 yards per carry over his career (75 carries for 287 yards and four touchdowns).
However, his development was stunted over the past two years by a broken tibia, an injury that ended his 2016 season early.
Fully healthy, the coaching staff took a long look at Darkwa in the spring, apparently having a slight edge over Draughn, who has averaged 3.2 yards per carry over his career (225 rushing attempts) with seven touchdowns.
CB Valentino Blake
The Giants signed defensive back Valentino Blake during the height of the free-agency period to a one-year veteran minimum deal. Blake takes the place of departing veterans Coty Sensabaugh, who signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Trevin Wade and Leon Hall.
Still, Blake's place on the 53-man roster is far from secure. This spring, young cornerbacks such as Michael Hunter and Donte Deayon received snaps with the first-team defense in the absences of Eli Apple and Janoris Jenkins during the OTAs.
The team has been working Mykkele Thompson as a backup slot cornerback to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
If Hunter, Deayon and Thompson continue to develop, chances are high the Giants wouldn't have room for Blake on the 53-man roster. And if they were to cut him, he would only cost $20,000 in dead money, per Over the Cap.
Patricia Traina covers the New York Giants for Inside Football, the Journal Inquirer and Sports Xchange. All quotes and information were obtained firsthand unless otherwise sourced.