General Manager Dave Gettleman went into this free agency with almost 75 million dollars in cap space. The fanbase expected to come out with at least one bona fide superstar. Instead, they were treated to a plethora of smaller signings that can prove more useful to the team’s future. Here’s the first part of New York Giants‘ free agency grades.
New York Giants Free Agency Grades, Part 1
This move was a disaster from the get-go. The Giants shipped away a third-round selection in 2020 and a conditional fifth (that could be a fourth) in 2021. Williams didn’t look great when you look at the base stats, only getting 0.5 sacks and a forced fumble. But when you take a deeper look, he was pretty good at getting into the backfield, notching 17 pressures and 10 quarterback knockdowns. Gettleman was able to keep the pick as a fifth-rounder by using the franchise tag on Williams and not re-signing him to a longer deal before the new league year. Many fans see this as a bad move, looking at his $17 million cap hit, but I see it as a smart way to make the best of a bad trade.
This is one of the many under-the-radar moves that Gettleman did this free agency, but it could have good rewards. After the retirement of Rhett Ellison after the season, the Giants needed a new blocking tight end to support incumbent Evan Engram. Enter Toilolo, an eight-year veteran who’s coming off an NFC Championship season with the San Francisco 49ers. The 6’8″, 268-pound bruiser only has 996 yards and 8 touchdowns in his career. His usefulness comes mainly as a blocker, having done so for great running backs such as Devonta Freeman and Raheem Mostert. He can now block for star Saquon Barkley, and the 2 years, $6.2 million definitely don’t hurt. In the end, though, it’s a depth signing, and he’ll be competing with multiple other tight ends for the final spot behind Engram and Kaden Smith.
The Giant’s previous starting middle linebacker, Alec Ogletree, was cut after a couple of subpar seasons on a large contract. So Gettleman went out and signed his replacement, Blake Martinez, to a 3 year, $30 million contract. Martinez has been one of the most prolific linebackers in recent years, leading the league in tackles in 2017 before coming in second the past two seasons. While being a great tackler, a lot of those come after giving up catches himself. He’s not the best in coverage, and on a team that heavily depends on their linebackers in coverage, many wonder how much of an improvement he is over Ogletree. The good news is that he is reunited with former coach Patrick Graham, who is now the defensive coordinator of the Giants. Gettleman clearly sees this as an improvement, but with other, more pressing, needs, I don’t see this as a great signing.
Cody Core and Nate Ebner
I put these two together because of their use on this team. Both of them are incredible special teams players looking to strengthen a powerful Giants unit. New Head Coach Joe Judge is coming from a job as a special teams coordinator with the New England Patriots. He knows the need for special teams and knows Ebner from his time there. Core was on the team last year and got 8 tackles on special teams, while also serving as gunner and downing punts inside the 20 multiple times. Ebner has been in the league since 2012 and has 95 tackles, serving on both special teams and at defensive back. Both of these signings are great, and both will help the Giants in a variety of ways.
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