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Giants Could Reshape Super Bowl Race by Selling at 2021 NFL Trade Deadline

Alex KayContributor IOctober 21, 2021

New York Giants tight end Evan Engram (88) is stopped short of the end zone during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the New England Patriots Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Noah K. Murray)
Noah K. Murray/Associated Press

The New York Giants are off to an abysmal to the 2021 NFL season. Amid a rash of injuries and poor play over the first six weeks, they have almost no hope to make their first playoff appearance since 2016.

Only three teams since the AFL-NFL merger have rebounded from a 1-5 start to make the postseason. This year's G-Men aren't likely to become the fourth.

The Giants are currently hovering around the league average in terms of salary, but their roster isn't living up to that price tag. With the NFL trade deadline coming up on Nov. 2, they have a wide-open window to begin cutting costs and building hope for the future. 

Some fans may be clamoring for a complete rebuild—including trading away running back Saquon Barkley and quarterback Daniel Jones—but the Giants are much more likely to ship out underwhelming veterans for future draft capital.

The Giants already have 11 picks in the 2022 draft, including five within the first three rounds. They could acquire even more chips at the deadline, which they could then use to move up the board.

Given the Giants' current trajectory, both general manager Dave Gettleman and head coach Joe Judge could get canned this offseason. Having a war chest of draft picks should entice a quality new regime and could position the franchise for future success. 

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Here's a look at some Giants veterans with the best chance of being dealt and where they might land if the organization decides to go into seller mode.

       

S Jabrill Peppers

Daniel Kucin Jr./Associated Press

Peppers is playing out the final year of his rookie deal after the Giants exercised his fifth-year option. The hybrid safety is making $6.8 million this season and will become an unrestricted free agent in the spring.

Peppers has failed to develop into the same versatile, playmaking defender that he was at Michigan. He's had a Pro Football Focus grade below 65 in three of his first four seasons, which puts him firmly into the "backup" category.

A change in scenery could help him revitalize his career, especially after a slow start to the current campaign. He's on pace for a career low in snaps, has a pedestrian stat line of 25 tackles, three quarterback hits and one pass defended, and he is allowing a career-worst 91 percent completion rate in coverage.

Peppers only turned 26 earlier this month and had a season-high nine tackles against the Rams in Week 6 after coming back from a two-game layoff with a hamstring injury. He's still one of the league's more athletic defenders and could thrive in a scheme that maximizes that ability.

The Seattle Seahawks would be an ideal landing destination for Peppers.

Head coach Pete Carroll has a long history of getting the most from his defensive backs, but the team can't stop anyone in 2021. Seattle has allowed an NFL-high 433.2 yards per game, including 292.3 through the air, the fifth-most leaguewide.

While Seattle has a pair of big-name safeties in Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs, having a versatile defensive back like Peppers on the roster would open up some interesting scheming options.

Peppers has lined up at nearly every defensive position during his time in college and the pros, including more than 200 snaps at nickel and outside corner during his first three seasons in the NFL, per Zack Rosenblatt of NJ Advance Media. He could bolster the short-handed Seahawks cornerback corps, play some linebacker or slot in as a third safety in "heavy nickel" type packages.

The 2-4 Seahawks desperately need to bolster their defense to have a shot at contending this year. Perhaps trading a late-round pick for Peppers could help get that defense back on track.

       

TE Evan Engram

John Munson/Associated Press

After a promising start to his career, Giants tight end Evan Engram has failed to live up to expectations in recent years.

The fifth-year veteran is slated to become an unrestricted free agent following the season. The Giants picked up his fifth-year option—and are thus paying him a shade over $6 million this season—but he hasn't rewarded them with solid production.

Engram's best season came as a rookie when he recorded career highs in receptions (64), targets (115), receiving yards (722) and touchdowns (six). The Ole Miss product then missed 13 games between the 2018-19 seasons because of injuries, although he played in all 16 games last year.

The 27-year-old missed the Giants' first two games this season after suffering a calf injury in the preseason finale. In the four contests he has suited up for, Engram has a meager 14 catches on 21 targets for 127 yards and zero touchdowns.

Quarterback Daniel Jones hasn't established a strong rapport with Engram. Their best work came last year, when Engram finished with 63 catches on 109 targets for 654 yards and one score.

Despite being a big, athletic target at 6'3", 240 pounds, Engram has only caught four TDs from Jones since the Giants drafted the signal-caller with the No. 6 overall pick in 2019. That lack of chemistry between the two should make it easy for them to move on from Engram, and a few teams should be interested.

The Bengals could consider Engram as a potential solution to their tight end woes. The team boasts an extremely talented receiving corps of Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd, but it lacks a playmaking tight end.

C.J. Uzomah leads all Bengals tight ends in snaps, but he has only 14 catches for 165 yards on the season. While he's been scoring at a decent clip—he has three touchdowns in six games to match a career high—he's never reeled in more than 43 catches or gone over the 440-yard receiving mark in any of his seven seasons.

With the Bengals off to a surprisingly hot 4-2 start and Joe Burrow rapidly developing into one of the game's best quarterbacks, bringing in an athletic tight end like Engram for a mid-to-late draft pick at the deadline could further elevate this offense.

       

CB James Bradberry

Brett Duke/Associated Press

After emerging as one of the league's better cornerbacks last year, James Bradberry has taken a step back in 2021.

Bradberry has a middling 67.3 PFF grade and has allowed a career-worst 72.5 percent completion rate. He's already given up three touchdowns in six games after conceding only four scores in 15 games last year.

Despite his poor play, Bradberry has the second-largest cap hit on the Giants roster this season at $10.5 million. The cornerback is in the second season of a three-year, $43.5 million deal and has an unsightly cap hit of $21.9 million next year.

New York can clear more than half of that off its books by trading Bradberry before the deadline. Although dealing him might be the nail in this defense's coffin, it should net the Giants a decent haul from a cornerback-needy contender.

The 28-year-old became a Pro Bowler for the first time last year, recording 14 pass breakups and only allowing a 70.1 passer rating. Bradberry started his career with the Carolina Panthers, but he had his best season after a change of scenery last year.

He could be revitalized by another, especially if he joins the defending AFC champions.

The Kansas City Chiefs have struggled to shut down opposing passing attacks this season. The team is giving up 277.3 passing yards per game—which is tied for the seventh-most in the league—and has allowed 11 passing touchdowns against four total interceptions.

Kansas City elevated cornerback L'Jarius Sneed to a full-time starter on the outside this season, but that hasn't worked out too well. The second-year defensive back currently has a miserable 59.0 PFF grade, which is far below his 72.9 rookie mark.

Sneed has been playing nearly every snap, but he has regressed significantly in terms of completion percentage (66.7 percent), passer rating (132.1) and touchdowns (three) allowed. He also has yet to secure a single interception this year.

Bringing in Bradberry would give Kansas City a more proven cornerback, which the organization may need to get back to the Super Bowl for a third straight year.

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