Taking a look at the overall on-field performances from the New York Giants’ top free-agent pickups from last offseason.
Bad decision-making has been a theme for much of Dave Gettleman‘s tenure with the New York Giants. Regardless, that didn’t really end up being the case during last offseason’s free agency period. Coming off a disappointing four-win 2019 campaign with a brand new head coach in Joe Judge, the Giants were able to sign a multitude of individuals that ended up playing a role in the overall improvement of the team in 2020.
However, a flawless free agency period is a strenuous task to achieve, and Big Blue didn’t accomplish that last offseason given the performances from some of the first-year Giants.
So with each of the following players’ inaugural year in blue having concluded, how did the slate of newcomers truly perform on the field?
CB James Bradberry
James Bradberry was the team’s top free-agent pickup and arguably the defense’s top player, undergoing his best season en route to a Pro Bowl bid. It was known Bradberry would be a free-agent target last year given his prior connection to Dave Gettleman, who drafted him out of Samford in 2016 while general managing the Panthers.
The fifth-year player helped turn the Giants defense around in 2020 and carried significant on-field value. He missed the Week 15 loss to Cleveland due to placement on the Reserve/COVID-19 list and you could easily tell the difference in the secondary — the Giants allowed Baker Mayfield to complete 27 of 32 passes for 297 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
All in all, Bradberry allowed quarterbacks to complete 61.5% of throws for 594 yards, four touchdowns, and an 81.5 rating through 15 games when targeted.
LB Blake Martinez
The Giants inked Blake Martinez to a three-year deal so he could come to East Rutherford and be the tackling machine he previously was in Green Bay, and that’s exactly the duty he fulfilled in his first year with Big Blue.
Martinez combined for 151 total tackles (third in the NFL, second in the NFC) and was a true leader on this defense. He was definitely a beneficial acquisition by Gettleman, and many would agree he was a Pro Bowl snub.
S Logan Ryan
Logan Ryan checks all the boxes as a player in Joe Judge’s/Patrick Graham’s system, meaning he’s extremely versatile, athletic, and dedicated.
The coaching staff seemingly loved Ryan and trusted him to be a defensive quarterback in the secondary, fielding him for 100% of the team’s defensive snaps in 12 different games. His efforts didn’t go unnoticed and led to a three-year contract extension agreed to in December.
Ryan should continue to be a noteworthy piece of this Giants defense in 2021 and beyond.
OT Cam Fleming
While he wasn’t a perfect offensive lineman and definitely had his bad moments here and there, you must give props to Cam Fleming for stepping up and starting all 16 games after Nate Solder opted out of the season. Fleming was a veteran on a mostly young offensive line and is someone the Giants should look to bring back in 2021.
If Solder returns and he and Andrew Thomas man the two tackle spots, Fleming would be a reliable backup to employ.
RB Dion Lewis
Running back Dion Lewis was certainly a bust of a signing. He possessed a prior connection to Joe Judge from their time together in New England which led him to East Rutherford, but he simply didn’t fulfill his duties as a versatile offensive weapon.
Lewis conjured up just 115 rushing yards and 127 receiving yards and averaged 22.4 return yards on 24 kickoff returns. Not to mention, his three fumbles (two lost) won’t do him justice in potential contract negotiations either.
With Saquon Barkley returning from injury next season, Lewis will be even more replaceable.
EDGE Kyler Fackrell
Kyler Fackrell may have been one of the more underrated signings last offseason, given his value in Patrick Graham’s system and edge rusher rotation. He wasn’t a perfect player, but was productive nonetheless, racking up four sacks, 10 quarterback hits, five hurries, six quarterback knockdowns, and 15 pressures.
However, there were some negatives during his inaugural season with New York. Not only did he miss four games down the stretch due to a calf injury, but he also recorded a 17.1% missed tackle rate on 41 total tackle attempts — not an ideal mark.
If anything, the Giants may bring him back on another cheap, short-term deal. Fackrell played the 2020 campaign on a one-year, $4.6 million contract.
TE Levine Toilolo
Levine Toilolo has one year remaining on his deal but it’s unclear if the Giants will keep him around in 2021. He wasn’t any sort of spectacular this past season and was more of a role player. The Giants mainly utilized Toilolo as a blocking tight end and he was brought in to complement additional tight ends Evan Engram and Kaden Smith.
He’s definitely replaceable, but if the Giants feel he fits well in Jason Garrett’s system, there’s a chance they retain him for next season.
ST/S Nate Ebner
The veteran was another player that was signed partly because of his past time spent with Joe Judge in New England. Nate Ebner was seen as a special teams ace and could be brought back due to Judge’s perception of the importance surrounding that area of the game.
However, Ebner wasn’t all that valuable with the Giants. He only recorded eight combined tackles with an 11.1% missed tackle rate.
If the Giants do bring him back, what they cannot do is play him on defense. There were multiple games this past season where Ebner was on the field during defensive possessions. That’s not his strength nor what he is paid to do.
QB Colt McCoy
Props to Colt McCoy for stepping up against Seattle and Cleveland in the injury-related absence of Daniel Jones. However, he wasn’t the greatest backup. In order to effectively and efficiently develop, Jones requires a second-string quarterback who possesses legitimate starting experience in this league, not someone who’s been a career backup like the former Texas Longhorn.
McCoy wasn’t even that impressive against Seattle, throwing for just 105 yards with one touchdown and one pick. However, he did throw for 221 yards while completing 61.3% of passes against the Browns.
DL Austin Johnson
Austin Johnson wasn’t all that great nor a crucial aspect of Patrick Graham’s defense. In fact, the highest number of defensive snaps Johnson was on the field for in a single game was just 23.
The production wasn’t there either. He recorded only 18 combined tackles with one sack and forced fumble. With his contract expiring, Johnson didn’t exactly prove to the organization that he’s worth keeping around in 2021.
K Graham Gano
Yes, Graham Gano was a pretty decent pickup…to say the least
Amid the release of Aldrick Rosas prior to the regular season’s commencement, the Giants signed Gano to a one-year deal but ended up inking him to a three-year extension following a Week 10 victory.
The veteran placekicker connected on 31 of 32 field-goal attempts and 21 of 23 extra-point attempts during what was a superbly productive campaign.