CLEVELAND, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 08: Cornerback Logan Ryan #26 of the Tennessee Titans celebrates after the Titans defeated the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 08, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Titans defeated the Browns 43-13.
(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

The New York Giants have acquired Logan Ryan on a one-year deal, a move that will certainly bolster the defensive backfield.

Ryan Honey

The search for a new starting defensive back in East Rutherford has finally concluded. On Monday, the New York Giants agreed to terms with veteran Logan Ryan on a one-year deal worth $7.5 million. It’s a great contract and move executed by Dave Gettleman — the Giants were able to acquire Ryan for lower than his prior $10 million annual asking price.

The aspect that stands out about the former Titan and Patriot is his ability to portray sheer versatility. His 113 combined tackles, four picks, and 18 pass breakups from last year prove he can be physical but also make plays in the passing game, a significantly important quality for a defensive back in a pass-happy league.

That specific versatility will greatly benefit this secondary as well, considering the Giants will possess a multitude of options at their disposal in regards to where they can field Ryan in the regular season.

For one, the Giants could indeed have their new starting corner opposite James Bradberry. It was initially supposed to be DeAndre Baker before his trip to the commissioner’s exempt list and then Sam Beal prior to his decision to opt-out amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Ross Cockrell could’ve additionally been in the mix, but the potential deal fell through before he could put pen to paper.

Ryan would be the best option possible for this spot, considering his talent and experience outweigh those of Grant Haley, Corey Ballentine, Julian Love, as well as rookie Darnay Holmes. Haley and Ballentine are more slot corners (and were inconsistent last year) and the Giants may feel more comfortable fielding Love as a safety. Holmes, on the other hand, has impressed in camp but still hasn’t faced an opposing team’s receivers and general offensive unit. Therefore, it’s tough to tell right now how much they’re truly going to get out of the 2020 fourth-round draft pick.

Having Ryan perform at corner would give the Giants two veteran starters within a position group that’s definitely on the younger side. Haley, Ballentine, Love, and Holmes combine for just four years of NFL experience. Guys like Chris Williamson, Montre Hartage, and Dravon Askew-Henry are additionally very young (23, 23, and 24 years old, respectively).

Furthermore, a Ryan-Bradberry duo would likely turn out to be an upgrade from the Janoris Jenkins-DeAndre Baker tandem that contributed to a mightily struggling pass defense in 2019.

But then, there’s the option of potentially giving the starting cornerback role to someone like Ballentine and fielding Ryan at free safety. At the moment, the Giants are without Xavier McKinney, who was to be the slated starter for that spot before fracturing his foot last week.

Love is now slated to start at free safety, but there’s the chance the Giants could feel more comfortable with Ryan manning the deeper part of the field. As was mentioned before, his experience trumps that of Love, so it wouldn’t be an unheard-of scenario. Not to mention, Love has yet to really play the free safety position in the NFL, as he took on the strong safety role throughout the backend of last year in the absence of Jabrill Peppers (missed the final five games due to a transverse process fracture).

Ryan starting at free safety would then potentially bump Love to the slot corner position, and while he doesn’t really carry pro experience there either, it wouldn’t be as stressful of a role and he could still find success. After all, Love was a corner during his days at Notre Dame, having been named a consensus All-American in 2018.

And finally, there’s the possibility the Giants could field Ballentine and Love respectively at the starting corner and free safety spots and utilize Ryan as a slot or nickel corner. This is the least likely of the potential scenarios due to the fact that it would provide Ryan with a tad bit smaller of a role. Nonetheless, it would still be beneficial for both him and the organization.

Ryan possesses the necessary physicality in order to perform in the slot — his 113 combined tackles in 2019 came with just 11 missed tackles (8.9% missed tackle percentage). He’d also be a better option than Haley, who struggled much of last season and has garnered his fair share of on-field issues throughout this year’s training camp.

Even in this role, the Giants would still get something out of the man they’re giving up $7.5 million in cap space for this year.

But regardless of where he plays, Ryan will be able to provide athleticism, physicality, and mentorship for this team. The latter-most quality is critical since this defensive backfield, again, is on the younger side, so the 29-year-old Ryan will certainly supply a form of much-needed leadership.

The versatility is the most important feature though, and will especially be under the Joe Judge regime. Love possesses it, Peppers possesses it, and the Giants are hoping the young Holmes will grow into a more versatile player as time progresses. Now, Ryan will be able to provide his fair share of on-field flexibility en route to hopefully improving this secondary by a drastic amount.

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