The New York Giants were very busy and aggressive in the first week of NFL free agency. As a result, they seem to be the clear-cut winners and are now one of the favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.
They got the tall physical receiver they needed in Brandon Marshall, they got a solid blocking tight end/fullback Rhett Ellison, they re-signed one of their own in running back Orleans Darkwa and on Saturday, they signed offensive tackle D.J. Fluker to a one-year deal.
With Marshall, the Giants now have the best receiving corps in the NFL with him, Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard. He’ll be a huge upgrade from the 29 receptions 586 yards and one touchdown that Victor Cruz provided last season.
Last season was a down year for B-Marsh in large part to the quarterback carousel the New York Jets employed. But he still managed to catch 59 passes for 788 yards and three touchdowns. Now he’s playing with the best quarterback he’s ever played with in Eli Manning and will see a ton of man-to-man coverage as opponents will be focusing on Beckham.
With Marshall now on board, the red zone for the Giants will once again be the green zone. Expect for Marshall and Manning to connect on several fade passes for touchdowns. Don’t be surprised if both Marshall and Beckham become the first Giants teammates have over 1,000 receiving yards and double-digit touchdowns in a single season.
The addition of Ellison may not have been a flashy addition, but it’s a solid addition. A player who can play both tight end and fullback at a high level is worth its weight in gold. He won’t factor much in the passing game, as he only has 51 receptions in five seasons, but he is an excellent blocker that can help the tackles against edge rushers. If you don’t believe that, just ask
If you don’t believe that, just ask Von Miller, whom the Giants will play against next season:
Rhett Ellison is a legit blocker. Here's him decleating Von Miller. pic.twitter.com/5wh09voRsR
— Giants Daily (@NYGDaily) March 9, 2017
Not many teams have a tight end/fullback that can block like an offensive line. His presence will open up the running game and will make Eli Manning feel more comfortable in the pocket.
The Giants have always believed that Orleans Darkwa had talent running the ball. They just had a hard time getting him on the field because he struggled in pass protection and because of the Giants crowded backfield. But now with Rashad Jennings gone, Darkwa will see the field more. Right now he’s set to be the primary backup to Paul Perkins and with an improved offensive line, the Giants are hopefully he can reach his full potential.
The addition of Fluker addressed the Giants biggest need this offseason which is the offensive line. Fluker, who was picked number 11 in the 2013 draft by the San Diego Chargers, was released by them on Mar. 7.
They’re three things to really like about the addition of Fluker.
First and foremost, he’s durable having started 59 games in a row for the Chargers. The second is he’s versatile having played his first two seasons at right tackle, and the last two seasons at right guard. The third is he’s turning 26 on Monday which means he’s in the prime of his career, and with some good coaching his best football is yet to come.
Addressing these needs in free agency was huge for the Giants as, now, they can go in any number of directions with their first pick in the draft.
Over his tenure has Giants general manager, Jerry Reese has received more than his fair share of criticism for failed draft picks, and not being aggressive enough in free agency. But after the way he upgraded the defense last season and what he’s done so far with the offense this offseason, he deserves to be praised.
The New York Giants have not had back-to-back double-digit win seasons since 2007 and 2008. With the additions the Giants made in the first week of free agency, not only will they have double digit wins if they stay healthy, but the could be in Minnesota in February playing in Super Bowl LII.