The New York Giants entered the 2020 Free Agency market with nearly $80M available in cap space, which was good for the sixth most in the NFL. The offensive line, the linebacking corps, and the lack of pass rush were just some of the glaring concerns for Big Blue heading into the season. Let’s dive into New York’s recent acquisitions and discuss how they fared compared to the other teams around the league. Here is my Grading of the Giants Free Agency.
Leonard Williams: D-
General Manager Dave Gettleman caught a lot of slack when he traded with the Jets for Leonard Williams last season. New York acquired the former first-round defensive tackle on the final year of his rookie deal. Gettleman trading for Williams with only a few games left on his contract, inferred that the New York Giants intended to sign him long-term. On March 16th, the Giants placed the Franchise Tag on Williams for $16.1M. He is officially being classified as a defensive tackle although Williams’ agent made noise about wanting to be classified as a defensive-end — which would have resulted in a greater salary.
Many experts around the league do not value Williams in the $16M price range, and while it is good that New York did not sign him longterm to this number, that $16.1M makes for 21% of the total cap space. I gave this move a D- because the Giants had no business making this trade in the first place. Gettleman gave up valuable draft capital for an underperforming, interior defensive lineman and now agreed to pay him for more than he is worth. In placing the tag on Williams, the two sides will have to come to an agreement by July 15th on a longterm deal.
James Bradberry: B+
The Giants came to terms with former Panthers cornerback James Bradberry on a three-year $45M contract with $32M guaranteed. Bradberry was drafted by Dave Gettleman during his stint in Carolina. He shadowed Michael Thomas, Mike Evans, and Julio Jones two times each in 2019, and held up very well. Bradberry is a vocal, lead by example type of player. A “pro’s pro,” said Giants linebacker David Mayo, who was a teammate of Bradberry in Carolina. At 26 years old, look for Bradberry to bring a veteran presence and elevate the level of play from the younger cornerbacks on the roster. Signing a cornerback was a must for the Giants after the departure of Janoris Jenkins, and make no mistake, James Bradberry is a number one corner. I gave this acquisition a B+ because this position was an absolute need, and I am a big fan of the player himself. The only knock here is the amount of the contract, but other than that, this was a very solid move by Dave Gettleman and staff.
Blake Martinez: C-
The Giants signed 26 year old, linebacker Blake Martinez to a three-year $30M contract. My first thought here is that the value of this contract was way off; especially since Cory Littleton signed for near identical numbers with Las Vegas. Martinez fits the build of what Dave Gettleman seems to like in his linebackers, which is a solid run-stopping player who struggles in pass coverage. This contract is essentially a two-year deal considering the third year is a team option. Martinez excelled under Giants’ defensive coordinator Patrick Graham’s defense during their tenure in Green Bay. I graded this move as a C- mainly due to the fact that in today’s NFL you absolutely need linebackers who can cover. For years now the Giants have been torched by athletic tight-ends, and that trend will likely continue. This is seemingly a near-lateral move for the Giants moving from Ogletree to Martinez.
Cam Fleming: A
Gettleman and staff add offensive tackle Cam Fleming to a one-year $4M contract. Fleming will likely challenge Nick Gates for the starting right tackle role in 2020. The Giants were in on Fleming in 2018 before he signed with The Dallas Cowboys. Jason Garrett got a good look at Fleming last year in Dallas and clearly liked what he saw enough to bring him over to East Rutherford. This is yet another one-year, prove it style of contract with essentially zero risk. The chances of the Giants drafting an offensive tackle at the fourth overall pick are definitely high, but it was an absolute must to seek one out in free agency as well. Fleming is only 27 years old and has shown promise in the games he has played. This is my favorite signing, and I give this move a solid A grade.
Kyler Fackrell: A-
Former Packers edge-rusher Kyler Fackrell signed with New York in a one-year prove it deal, at one-year $4.75M. This move reminds of the Markus Golden signing last off-season. Golden signed a one-year prove it deal with New York in 2018. James Bettcher was the defensive coordinator at the time, and Golden had success under Bettcher in Arizona. Fackrell signs with New York and reunites with Patrick Graham. While under Graham, Fackrell recorded a 10.5 sack season in 2018. Fackrell is by no means the answer to New York’s lack of pass rush problem, but considering there is literally no risk to this signing, what is there to dislike? This signing gets an A- from me.
Dion Lewis: B+
The former Titans running back Dion Lewis signs with Big Blue on a one-year deal. The 29 year old was cut by Tennessee prior to Free Agency to save $4M in cap space. Lewis will be a very solid complimentary piece to Saquon Barkley, and will provide a veteran presence in the locker room. Lewis’ bread and butter has come in the passing game but can be quite versatile in the run game as well. He and Judge spent some time together in New England and perhaps that could have been a factor in Lewis signing with Big Blue. B+ here.
Corey Coleman: B
Wide-receiver Corey Coleman will return to New York on a one-year deal. Seven months removed from ACL surgery, Coleman hopes to regain relevancy in the league. Coleman was a first-round pick in 2016, but ever since has been nothing short of a disappointment. With Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate, and the emergence of Darius Slayton, it is going to be tough for Coleman to earn himself significant playing time. This is a low-risk, high-reward type of situation for Big Blue, and this signing makes a lot of sense. My grade here is a B.
Levine Toilolo: B
New York signed the 6’8 270 pound tight end Levine Toilolo to a two-year $6.2M contract. Toilolo played last season in San Francisco behind George Kittle. With Rhett Ellison’s retirement, and Evan Engram‘s injury history, I believe that signing a tight end was a must. Toilolo is going to get more usage with the Giants than he had with either San Francisco or Atlanta. This contract is essentially a one-year deal since the second-year is a team option. Toilolo is a solid blocker in both the run and pass game. I do believe the Giants will likely look to utilize his gigantic frame in the passing game as well. This move warrants a B grade due to the need of the position alone and the flexibility of the contract.
Aldrick Rosas: B-
The Giants have placed a second round tender on kicker Aldrick Rosas. This means that Rosas, being a restricted free agent, can negotiate with any team. If Rosas plans to sign with a new team, the Giants can match the offer made to him and retain him. If the Giants decide not to match the offer, they may be given a compensatory pick depending on the amount of the offer made to Rosas.
Colt Mccoy: C+
My inner Longhorn fan is jumping of the walls right now as the Giants come to terms with former University of Texas great quarterback Colt McCoy. More recently McCoy was the backup to Dwayne Haskins in Washington. He signs for one-year $2.25M. McCoy is a solid veteran backup that will be a good mentor for Daniel Jones in 2020. C+ here for McCoy.
David Mayo: C+
David Mayo re-signed with the Giants on a three-year deal worth $8.4M. Mayo played very well while filling in for Ryan Connelly, which led to him recording 82 tackles, five tackles for a loss, and two sacks. All of which were career highs for Mayo. Mayo is a run stuffing linebacker, who like Martinez, struggles in pass coverage. Mayo raved about the Giants organization and was very happy to re-sign. He was drafted by Gettleman in Carolina in 2015. After a career year, it made sense to bring Mayo back, but with the signing of Martinez, the return of Ryan Connelly, and the chance that the Giants draft a linebacker — I fear Mayo will be buried in the depth chart. Overall, I give this signing a C+.
Elijhaa Penny: C
New York came to terms with running-back/fullback Elijhaa Penny on a two-year deal. Penny was set to become a restricted free agent, but now will remain in New York for the next few seasons. I give this signing a C.
Cody Core: B+
The Giants resign ace special teamer Cody Core to a two-year $4.7M. The special teamer/wide receiver was claimed by the Giants in 2018 from the Bengals and is the team’s best gunner.
Nate Ebner: B
Joe Judge brings in a former Patriots special teamer, Nate Ebner. The 31 year old won three Super Bowls with New England. Ebner’s first sport is rugby, but has made a career in the NFL as a special teamer and a defensive back. Ebner is a hard-nosed player that stands out on the field.