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Kyler Fackrell’s contract is expiring. Could the Giants bring him back to be a part of the pass rush in 2021 and potentially beyond?

Ryan Honey

Decisions, decisions.

That’s what the Giants, along with every other team in this league, will be dealing with when it comes to expiring contracts among their current players. Despite the fact the salary cap reportedly could be higher than people originally expected, it’ll still be a more laborious task to bring guys back amid a pandemic-impacted offseason.

One of these individuals in East Rutherford whose contract is running out happens to be Kyler Fackrell. The Giants inked the veteran outside linebacker to a one-year, $4.6 million deal prior to this past season — an inexpensive contract due to the fact he’s not exactly a star defensive player.

But regardless of the on-field talent, the Giants should certainly work to keep him on the roster for at least the near future given his low price.

He won’t be expensive and should be worth around the same amount he signed for in 2020, so the Giants could retain him on another short-term deal (1-2 years) within the same range of his current average annual salary.

But why bring him back if his talent isn’t at the highest level?

Well, because he’s valuable to defensive coordinator Patrick Graham‘s system and edge rusher rotation.

Familiarity is crucial — not only did Fackrell work with Graham this past year but he additionally did so in 2018 in Green Bay when Graham was coaching the Packers linebackers. His 10.5 sacks in 2018 and four sacks this past year shouldn’t be overlooked; that level of production fits well with the type of role he possesses and would continue to possess if he were to remain in New York.

Graham likes to rotate guys in and keep bodies fresh, and Fackrell is perfect for that type of system. In 2021, he wouldn’t have an overwhelming level of responsibility and could continue to work alongside guys like Lorenzo Carter, Oshane Ximines, and 2020 rookies Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin (should Brown and Coughlin remain with the team next year).

So it’s seemingly an easy decision — Fackrell is cheap but great for the system. Simple, right?

Not exactly.

Fackrell isn’t the only player the Giants could look to retain on a short-term deal. There’s only so much cap space they can spend, and Dave Gettleman would probably prefer to keep around $8-10 million anyway for rookies and in-season emergencies, which will make the entire collection of spendable cash even smaller.

Offensive tackle Cameron Fleming may stay to be a reserve tackle if Nate Solder returns and starts. Special teams ace Nate Ebner and running back Alfred Morris could stick around on short-term deals as well. The latter especially, given the significant possibility of Wayne Gallman leaving the team to pursue a starting opportunity elsewhere.

It won’t be the largest free agency-related decision for the Giants whatsoever, and there may be concern regarding Fackrell’s consistent health (he missed four games in 2020 due to a calf injury that landed him on injured reserve). But regardless of all that, retaining Fackrell should still be a priority considering the benefit it’d be to the improving defensive unit.