The New York Giants trading Olivier Vernon away will make the team better, even if it creates another hole on the defensive side of the ball.
New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman has decided to gut his inherited defense. After deciding against a franchise tag for safety Landon Collins, he has traded Olivier Vernon to the Cleveland Browns.
The team sent Vernon to Cleveland for guard Kevin Zeitler, and they also dropped 23 spots in the draft, moving pick number 132 for pick 155. Although he produced seven sacks last season as the team’s only consistent pass rusher, Vernon has missed nine out of 32 games over the past two seasons.
Additionally, he has not topped 40 tackles over the past two seasons and was due to count $15.5 against the salary cap this season. The team needs to overhaul their defense, and it was known that Vernon was on the block. Getting a player like Zeitler is a huge coup for the Giants.
As much as it seems like beating a dead horse, the team’s offensive line is still a work in progress. Will Hernandez is a keeper at left guard and Nate Solder is an adequate left tackle, but the right side of the line is still a mess.
Zeitler is a very strong guard, especially in pass blocking. Pro Football Focus has graded him as a top 10-overall guard three times in his seven-year career and he was their top rated pass blocking guard last season.
Kevin Zeitler should improve the Giants' offensive line immediately. pic.twitter.com/LxVUDrvThd
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) March 8, 2019
Vernon graded well last season in his 12 games, but this was a move the team needed to make. Adding Zeitler is a move that improves the Giants offensive line, which will help both Eli Manning and Saquon Barkley make things happen for the offense.
The NFL is a game built around offense right now and piecing together a strong offensive line is the most important thing a team does aside from selecting their quarterback. Whether or not you feel Manning should be the guy anymore, the team needed to continue building their offensive line.
The team had about $24 Million in cap space to work with entering the offseason, so Gettleman was going to have to get creative in how he addressed the offensive line.
Trading Vernon was a way to add a lineman without eating up limited cap space, as the trade actually clears about $1.5 Million in space per SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano.
OK, so here's the whole deal: The Giants sent LB Olivier Vernon and their fourth-round pick (132nd) to the Browns for G Kevin Zeitler and a fifth-round pick (155th). … The cap money is basically a wash, though the Giants do clear about $1.5M in space.
— Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoSNY) March 8, 2019
While trading Vernon creates a hole at pass rusher, there are several options for the team to consider to fill that hole. The pass rusher free agent class is very deep this offseason, meaning that the team will have many options as to who they could add to the roster, and the prices should stay relatively cheap.
The team could also theoretically use the sixth overall pick on a pass rusher if they decide none of the available quarterbacks are players they want to build around. There are many more ways to plug in pass rushers than linemen for the Giants right now.
Like it or not, the New York Giants are building around Eli Manning this season. Kevin Zeitler is a high-end player that fills a need for the team, and adding him was the right news.