Free-Agent Contracts Giants Must Pursue After Preseason

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistSeptember 6, 2021

Free-Agent Contracts Giants Must Pursue After Preseason

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    The New York Giants made some notable strides during the 2020 season. Despite losing star running back Saquon Barkley for the season and getting subpar play from quarterback Daniel Jones, New York remained in the NFC East hunt all the way to the final week.

    This was largely thanks to the physical and competitive culture that head coach Joe Jude instilled during the season. Having a defense that ranked 12th overall and ninth in points allowed certainly didn't hurt.

    New York took steps to become even more competitive this offseason—like adding pass-catchers Kenny Golladay, John Ross, Kyle Rudolph and rookie Kadarius Toney. While the cutdown to 53 players occurred last week, there's still time to make a few last-minute additions before Week 1.

    Here, we'll examine three remaining free agents who the Giants should consider before they take on the Denver Broncos this Sunday.

TE Tyler Eifert

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    Tight end Evan Engram is dealing with a calf injury and may or may not be available for the season opener.

    "The plan is really to give him a few days, which extends really through this weekend, to see how his body responds and see where he’s at," Judge said, per John Fennelly of Giants Wire.

    Rudolph is coming off of foot surgery, while Levine Toilolo is out for the year with a torn Achilles. Adding another tight end would make sense for the Giants. A seasoned pass-catcher like Tyler Eifert could be the perfect fit.

    Eifert has a long history of injuries—he missed 53 games in his first six seasons—but has played 31 games over the past two years. He caught 79 passes for 785 yards and five touchdowns during that span.

    If the Giants are looking to get the most out of Jones this season, putting another proven pass-catcher on the field—and adding some valuable insurance at tight end—would help.

Edge Adrian Clayborn

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    Last season, the Giants got a breakout campaign from Leonard Williams, who finished with 11.5 sacks. However, generating pressure off the edge was a bit of a problem. Williams was the only player to produce four or more sacks on the season.

    New York added Ifeadi Odenigbo this offseason but released him as part of the final cutdown.

    Adding an experienced outside rusher like Adrian Clayborn could help complement Williams from the edge. Though he only played 38 percent of the snaps with the Cleveland Browns last season, Clayborn still finished with 3.5 sacks, 15 quarterback pressures and three tackles for loss.

    Even if Clayborn were to only play a minor defensive role, it would be beneficial for the Giants. Kyler Fackrell and Dalvin Tomlinson were two of New York's top four sack producers (7.5 sacks between them) in 2020. Both departed in the offseason.

OT Rick Wagner

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    Protecting and developing Jones should be New York's biggest goal in 2021—even bigger than reaching the postseason. If Jones cannot prove himself to be a franchise quarterback, it will be back to the drawing board in 2022.

    Evaluating Jones has been difficult because New York's offensive line has been lacking. Though the Giants used the fourth overall pick on left tackle Andrew Thomas last offseason, Jones was still sacked 45 times.

    Jones' poor pocket presence and bad ball security—he's fumbled 29 times in two seasons—has exacerbated the problem.

    Adding a seasoned tackle like Rick Wagner would provide both talent and leadership to New York's line.

    Wagner started nine games for the Green Bay Packers last season and appeared in all 16 contests. He was responsible for just one sack and no penalties in 610 snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. An eight-year veteran, Wagner has appeared in 118 games with 96 starts.

    Even if Wagner couldn't push for a starting spot right away, he'd bring valuable experience to the unit.