The New York Giants need to protect their investments on offense and defense, and there are two free agent studs who can help that cause.
The NFL’s official free agency period starts on March 13, 2019, at 4 p.m. ET. This will be a pivotal moment for the New York Giants franchise as they will need to make key moves in an attempt to compete next season.
New York will enter the new league year with about $62 million in cap space. That will likely rise with projected league inflation and potential cuts. Some estimates have the Giants with about $85 million to spend this spring.
These numbers put New York about 10th in the league in available cap space. This means that New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman will have plenty of money to spend to fill the various holes of his team.
Here are two free agents Big Blue should target to fill these holes:
Jack Conklin, RT:
In 2019, the Giants gave up 43 sacks. Thirty-eight of those were at the expense of rookie quarterback Daniel Jones. Danny Dimes was the eighth most sacked QB in the league despite only starting 12 games.
On top of that, the offensive line once again did a poor job of helping Saquon Barkley. Once again, he was consistently hit behind the line of scrimmage, which forced a number of run stuffs. Barkley was forced to get the bulk of his yards after contact: 605 of his 1,003 yards this season came after contact.
It’s clear that the Giants have to do a better job protecting their franchise players. One way to improve that deficiency is by improving the tackle position.
Both of New York’s starting tackles were immensely underwhelming for the majority of the season.
Nate Solder, the third highest-paid lineman in the NFL, was easily the worst player on the Giants offensive line. He allowed 11 sacks in the 2019 season. His job security is in question. However, it seems more likely that his replacement will be found in the draft rather than free agency.
Right tackle Mike Remmers was not much better. Remmers was a clear temporary piece for the Giants when they signed him to a one-year deal last offseason. His contract is unlikely to get renewed, so the Giants should look to upgrade.
The one player who makes a ton of sense is 25-year-old RT, Jack Conklin.
Conklin’s a former first-round pick out of Michigan State. He’s due to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. The Titans declined his fifth-year option prior to the start of the 2019 season.
Conklin projects as the perfect fit for the New York Giants. He was tremendous on the right side for Tennesse earning himself a Pro Football Focus (PFF) grade of 78.0. That’s about 14 points higher than Mike Remmers.
In addition, Conklin only allowed four sacks this season while helping protect the NFL’s leading rusher, Derrick Henry.
The Giants have the cap space to sign a player like Conklin. Fixing the offensive line should be their number one priority. They need to protect their young stars above all else.
Yannick Ngakoue, DE:
While the New York Giants have begun to make improvements in their pass rush, they still have a long way to go. The Giants finished with 36 sacks this season, ranking 22nd in the NFL.
That’s an improvement from their 30th place finish, 30-sack 2018 campaign. However, growth is needed. The team needs to get after the quarterback at a much higher rate if they want to start winning games.
These past few years don’t align with the characteristics of a standard Giants team. Big Blue has always been built with great pass rushers.
Guys like Lawrence Taylor and Michael Strahan were once the leaders of Super Bowl-winning teams. When the Giants are winning games often it because they’re able to get after the quarterback. If the Giants want to return to their previous glory, they need to upgrade their pass-rush.
The Giants need to start by adding a strong edge rusher. The Giants got little sack production from their defensive line last season, their three starters combined for a total of 6.5 sacks. That marked the lowest number of sacks from the defensive line in the history of the franchise.
The Giants need to target a pass rusher to make up for the lack of pass rush upfront. One potential solution is Yannick Ngakoue.
Ngakoue, who is just 25-year-old, has been an absolute monster since entering the league. The Maryland product has racked up 37.5 sacks, 85 quarterback hits, and 14 forced fumbles since his 2016 debut with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Not only has his production been elite, but he’s also been able to stay on the field. Ngakoue’s only missed one game in his four years. With his health and production, he would provide an immediate fix to the New York Giants’ pass rush issues.
While the former Jaguar is predicted to cost a pretty penny—around $16 million—the Giants shouldn’t be afraid to spend. Ngakoue is clearly one of the best edge rushers in the league. His arrival could bring life to a currently dormant Giants’ pass rush.