In just three uncharacteristic, unprecedented, and uncertain days, the New York Football Giants changed the landscape of their team by spending up to $207.75 million on numerous defensive playmakers. Was this money well spent, or are the Giants dollar foolish?
Jason Pierre-Paul: 1 year, $10.5 million
The Giants’ first order of business was to re-sign one of their own. Jason Pierre-Paul made his Giant comeback official on Wednesday afternoon, signing a one-year deal.
This deal is the best of both worlds for the Giants and Pierre-Paul. The Giants get a player at a position of need that they know can be a game-breaker for a reasonable price, and Pierre-Paul gets to prove his worth before chasing big free-agent dollars next offseason.
Pierre-Paul has had additional surgeries on his mangled right hand in hopes that he can shed the “club” that he wore last season. Despite the debilitating device, JPP was an impact player for the Giants last season.
He only had 1.0 sack in 8 games, but he applied consistent pressure, batted down 6 passes, and showed signs of being his old self.
If Pierre-Paul can stay healthy, the Giants may have gotten a steal in JPP for the 2016 season.
Janoris Jenkins: 5 years, $62.5 million
The first free agent signed by the Giants outside of their organization may be the most important one. Janoris Jenkins,a 27-year-old cornerback formerly of the Los Angeles Rams, signed a deal on Wednesday that makes him the second-highest-paid corner in the NFL, behind only Darelle Revis.
Now, Jenkins is certainly not the NFL’s 2nd best corner, heck , he may not even be in the top 10. But when the salary cap inflates as much as it did this offseason and you’ve got a desperate team, sometimes the contract dollars boost exponentially.
Quite simply, Jenkins can be looked at as the replacement for Prince Amukamara, who bolted for a 1-year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars. In that respect, it is clear that Jenkins is a superior player.
Whereas Amukamara was sometimes tentative on balls in the air, Jenkins is the exact opposite. In fact, he is quite similar to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie: a speedy ballhawk that can both produce huge plays and give them up.
On a team without a true center fielder-free safety, having corners like Jenkins and Rodgers-Cromartie is valuable. Jenkins admitted to being “lazy” late in games early on in his career, but he has since improved dramatically. Of his 10 interceptions, he has returned 5 for pick-sixes.
Jenkins is an exciting corner, and the Giants hope that his best years are still ahead of him.
Damon Harrison: 5 years, $46.25 million
Anyone that has watched the Giants’ run defense over the past 3 seasons has seen gaping holes and poor tackling. The acquisition of former Jets’ nose tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison should certainly help in that regard.
Harrison may have been overpaid for his services, but he is a player that the Giants simply couldn’t pass up on. The 6’4″, 350 lb plugger will start alongside Jonathan “Big Hank” Hankins to make a great wall of Giant DTs.
Harrison only has 1.5 sacks in his entire 4-year NFL career, but that’s not his job. Harrison earns his paycheck by absorbing double-team blocks and by stopping the run. Harrison compiled 72 tackles last year, and has averaged 63 since becoming a starter.
There are few better 3-4 pluggers than Harrison. He doesn’t see the move from a 3-4 to a 4-3 as a problem, but instead a strength, as his double-teams will allow for the Giants’ other D-linemen to get sacks.
Jonathan Hankins can both stop the run and rush the passer, and having “Snacks” beside him can only help.
Olivier Vernon: 5 years, $85 million
Perhaps the most exciting of the Giants’ signings, Olivier Vernon is an excellent fit on the Giants’ defensive line. He may have become the highest-paid defensive lineman in football, but coming off the season that he had and with the salary cap being what it is, one can justify Vernon’s price tag.
Vernon is a 25-year-old defensive end that can apply pressure in a variety of ways. He can rely on his strength, his speed, or his technique to get sacks. He used all 3 ways last season with the Dolphins, in which he had 61 tackles, 7.5 sacks, and led the NFL in total pressures.
Vernon may just be coming into his own, which makes this deal so enticing. With Jason Pierre-Paul his opposite and the Law Firm of Harrison, Hankins, and Bromley in the middle, Vernon will have an ample chance to shine.
One must ask himself, would he rather have 25-year-old Vernon for 5 years and $85 million or 31-year-old Robert Ayers Jr. for 3 years and $21 million? While Ayers was a great find for the Giants, I think most everyone would sign up for Vernon.
The Giants may have just found their newest great defensive lineman.
Keenan Robinson: 1 year, $3.5 million
Robinson is the latest cheap free agent fix to the Giants’ group of linebackers, but he may have the best chance for success.
The former Washington Redskin is a solid tackler (team-leading 109 in 2014) that has struggled to stay healthy ( he has only played in 36 out of a possible 64 games thus far in his career). Scouting reports pin him as solid in coverage, which is a very helpful trait for the Giants, but sometimes lacking in confidence as a leader of the defense. Thus, a move to outside linebacker may be in the cards for Robinson.
Robinson is a reliable player, but he cannot be all that the Giants get for their linebackers. Re-signing Jasper Brinkley could be a good idea, and there are many blue-chip LBs available in the draft that the Giants must consider.
Because it isn’t my money, I have no issue with the Giants spending over $200 million on these players. Obviously, not every one will be a home run, but this is the smartest Giants splurge that they could have envisioned. A solid draft could put this offseason squarely as the best in Jerry Reese’s tenure.