Giants' Top Players to Avoid in 2021 NFL Free Agency
The New York Giants have plenty of reasons to be optimistic heading into the 2021 offseason. They only won six games in 2020, but they also forged an identity as a physical defensive team under head coach Joe Judge and defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. They also fell just short of winning the NFC East.
With just a few key additions—and ideally, a healthy Saquon Barkley—the Giants could be a playoff team in 2021. However, while adding the right pieces will be important, New York must also be careful not to bring in the wrong ones.
General manager Dave Gettleman will have his work cut out this offseason. The Giants are projected to be more than $4 million over the salary cap, and they must determine the futures of players like Leonard Williams and Dalvin Tomlinson.
Spending out on the wrong free agents could have a negative impact on the offseason game plan. With this in mind, let's examine three pending free agents New York should avoid in 2021.
WR Corey Davis
The Giants should be interested in adding a new No. 1 wideout to the equation. Quarterback Daniel Jones has lacked a true No. 1 target during his pro career, and Darius Slayton led the Giants with just 751 receiving yards in 2020.
However, it's important that the Giants target a true No. 1 receiver and not just another complementary piece. This is why they should steer clear of Tennessee Titans receiver Corey Davis.
Davis has flashed potential during his four pro campaigns, but he has never had a 1,000-yard season. He's never had more than five touchdowns in a season, either, and it's hard to view him as a major upgrade over the likes of Slayton and Sterling Shepard.
It's also unlikely that Davis would be a budget-friendly option. He's projected to have a market value of $9.8 million annually, which simply doesn't fit into New York's cap situation.
Targeting a proven No. 1 like Allen Robinson II makes sense if the Giants can create the necessary cap space. Spending $10-plus million on a complementary piece like Davis does not.
Edge Jadeveon Clowney
While splurging on a complementary receiver doesn't make sense for the Giants, handing out a prove-it contract to help strengthen the defense might.
The cap-strapped Giants would do well to uncover value on the open market. However, New York should not be willing to gamble on pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney. He has struggled to be an impact player away from the Houston Texans and has produced just three sacks over the past two seasons.
With the Titans in 2020, Clowney had zero sacks in eight games and produced a mere 11 quarterback pressures.
Defensively, New York's priority should be re-signing Williams and/or Tomlinson. Barring that, the Giants should look to reload with cheaper alternatives in the draft. Clowney would only make sense if he would be willing to take a bargain-basement deal. There's no guarantee that the 2014 No. 1 overall pick—who played on a one-year, $13 million deal in 2020—would be willing to do that.
Edge Olivier Vernon
If the Giants cannot retain Williams and/or Tomlinson, might it make sense to bring back edge defender Olivier Vernon? Under normal circumstances, it might.
Vernon spent three seasons with the Giants, racking up 22 sacks and making one Pro Bowl appearance during that span. He was then traded along with wideout Odell Beckham Jr. to the Cleveland Browns, where he has spent the past two seasons.
While Vernon was productive in 2020—he logged 36 tackles and nine sacks—he also suffered a torn Achilles in the regular-season finale. This means that he likely won't be available until late in 2021, if at all.
New York shouldn't be looking at future contributors in a year with a diminished salary cap—not with their cap situation, anyway. The Giants need to focus on players who can help deliver a playoff berth this season, and Vernon doesn't fit into that category.
If he is healthy in 2022 and the salary cap jumps, then New York could revisit this idea. For now, though, Vernon needs to be firmly off their radar.
Contract and cap information via Spotrac.