The New York Giants aren’t exactly deep at safety, which may prompt them to look towards free agency to acquire a veteran.
This offseason, the New York Giants made numerous moves to improve their secondary, which included the selection of safety Xavier McKinney in the second round of the draft. Big Blue will now employ an extremely athletic and versatile tandem in the middle of the defensive backfield with the aforementioned former Alabama standout along with Jabrill Peppers, who’s entering his fourth year in the league and second with the team.
But in spite of the fact that McKinney and Peppers have great potential as a duo, the Giants don’t exactly employ much help behind them on the depth chart. Luckily, a number of players are still available in free agency, and New York could certainly look into signing a veteran for depth, mentorship, and/or special teams assistance.
And who may be on the market, you ask?
Morgan Burnett is an experienced individual in this league, having played for three different organizations across an entire decade. He understands the ins and outs of performing in the defensive backfield and has played both the strong and free safety positions. Thus, he could teach McKinney and Peppers a thing or two and provide significant mentorship.
He wouldn’t be a threat to start either, as his play has declined for years at this point. Burnett has racked up at least 100 combined tackles in three different seasons but hasn’t done so since the 2014 campaign while with Green Bay. He additionally struggled much of the last two years in coverage, allowing quarterbacks to complete 53.3% and 66.7% of passes when targeting him in 2018 and 2019, respectively.
His price tag would also be a non-issue. Burnett earned an average salary of $3.75 million while in Cleveland last year and could accept even less from the Giants considering he’s been on the market for this long. With Big Blue currently carrying a little over $16.6 million in cap space, acquiring him wouldn’t significantly affect the organization’s finances.
There is a crucial downside to him though, and it’s his health-related issues. In 10 seasons, Burnett has played in all 16 games just twice (2011 and 2012). From 2017-19, he respectively took part in 12, 11, and eight matchups, with his 2019 campaign ending after a torn Achilles injury. This would potentially lead to the Giants passing on him.
Connections mean a great deal in the NFL and Tavon Wilson surely possesses one with new Giants head coach Joe Judge, which could ultimately lead to New York acquiring him for both special teams help and secondary depth.
Wilson originally went to the New England Patriots in the second round of the 2012 draft when Judge was a special teams assistant in Foxborough. Doing what he could to earn as much playing time on the Pats defense as possible, Wilson actually made special teams his prime area to see the field.
During his four years in New England (with Judge becoming the special teams coordinator for the final season), Wilson respectively notched 238, 253, 324, and 155 special teams snaps. With that said, Judge definitely carried a decent level of confidence in Tavon to consistently award him playing time in that facet.
It’s not like his talents are limited to just special teams either. While with the Lions last year, Wilson saw much defensive playing time and recorded 98 combined tackles, a mark that finished second on the team. He can still play, but as is the case with Burnett, he likely wouldn’t consistently impress enough to win a starting job for the Giants, thus causing no potential drama within that position group.
Judge and the Giants acquired a former Patriots special teams weapon in Nate Ebner back in March. Adding another one may make sense, considering Wilson could be used in multiple ways.