There are three Patriots free agents who could be on Joe Judge’s radar as he tries to establish a winning culture with the New York Giants.
With the Kansas City Chiefs victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl 54, the 2019 season is officially over and all 32 teams have begun to prepare for the 2020 season.
For the New York Giants and their new head coach, Joe Judge, establishing a winning culture for a team that has gone 12-36 over the last three seasons is paramount.
Judge has already done a solid job by adding experienced coaches to his coaching staff, such as offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, and tight ends coach Freddie Kitchens.
Now, Judge and general manager Dave Gettleman will look to build a roster that can help change the team’s fortunes. A crafty way of doing that is welcoming familiar faces into the building. (Familiar in the eyes of Judge, that is.)
Judge can look to acquire some of the players he coached during his time with the New England Patriots.
Judge served as the Patriots special teams assistant/special teams coordinator from 2012-2019 and was also their wide receivers coach last season. Lucky would have it that several key Patriots are free agents this offseason.
In previous years, Patriots free agents may have been reluctant to leave, knowing the Patriots are always competing for Super Bowls. But now, there are serious cracks in the Patriots dynasty and there are even doubts on whether or not Tom Brady will be back with the team. This makes it the opportune time for Judge to lure some of his players to join Big Blue.
Here are three players that Judge might be able to persuade and join him with the Giants:
Matthew Slater has been with the Patriots since 2008, and is their special teams ace, having been voted to eight Pro Bowl teams. The 34-year-old Slater tallied 10 tackles this past season and was also named to the All-Pro team.
Considering the bond that Judge and Slater established over the past few seasons, it makes perfect sense for Judge to reach out to him, especially since the Giants’ best special teams player over the last two seasons, Michael Thomas, is an unrestricted free agent.
Knowing how much Judge puts an emphasis on the third phase of the game, he would like to have Slater and Thomas with the Giants in 2020. But if he’s only able to acquire one special teams’ ace, he may go with the player he fully understands.
Linebacker is definitely a position the Giants will look to upgrade this offseason and Jamie Collins is surely on Judge’s radar. The 30-year-old Collins will be one of the most sought after free agent linebackers this offseason, and for good reason.
He led the Patriots in tackles last season with 81, 14 for loss, and also recorded seven sacks and three interceptions (one return for a touchdown). It’s been rumored the Giants may decide to parts ways with inside linebacker Alec Ogletree, which would make even more sense for them to grab Collins.
At this time it’s unclear whether the Giants will run a 3-4 or 4-3 defense next season, but the versatile Collins will be able to fit either scheme.
Kyle Van Noy
Another free agent linebacker the Judge has his eyes on is Kyle Van Noy. Van Noy, who turns 29 in March, was sixth on the Patriots in tackles with 56, and also had six and a half sacks.
Acquiring him is a strong option if Judge prefers the team to 3-4 defense, as Van Noy has played the strong-side linebacker in this defense. The Giants’ best edge rusher from last season, Markus Golden, is a free agent and might be looking to cash in on a huge payday after recording 10 sacks last year.
The Giants have two young outside linebackers in Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines, but adding a veteran presence with championship experience would help this unit continue to grow and develop.