The Miami Dolphins have released linebacker Kyle Van Noy just one season into his four-year, $51 million deal.
Connections are crucial in the NFL. Sheer familiarity is too.
Kyle Van Noy possesses either with the lead dog of the current Giants coaching staff, and his recent release from the Miami Dolphins makes you wonder whether the setback will land him in East Rutherford.
For context, Van Noy spent part of the 2016 season and then the full 2017, 2018, and 2019 campaigns in New England alongside then-Patriots special teams coordinator and current Giants head coach Joe Judge.
Pairing the two wouldn’t be an outrageous idea and was actually considered last offseason before Van Noy decided to “take his talents to South Beach.” This is due to the fact that in just over a year since he began his current tenure, the 39-year-old Judge has played a role in acquiring and hiring a number of players and coaches partly based on prior connections.
Judge worked with Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham in New England from 2012-15 and also inside linebackers coach Kevin Sherrer at Alabama in the early 2010s. Judge additionally spent time with Giants senior offensive assistant Freddie Kitchens when the former was a grad assistant at Mississippi State in 2005 and the latter was a running backs coach at the same institution.
In regard to players, the Giants, last year, signed special teams ace Nate Ebner and running back Dion Lewis, either of whom worked with Judge on the Patriots. Offensive tackle Cameron Fleming previously worked with Jason Garrett on the Cowboys (and with Judge on the Patriots) while Blake Martinez and Kyler Fackrell spent time with Graham in Green Bay during the 2018 season.
The general concept of familiarity is huge — you already know how to work with one another and not as much time needs to be spent learning the ins and outs of a coach’s playbook or player’s on-field strengths and tendencies. The aforementioned reconnections are part of the reason why the Giants made somewhat of an improvement in 2020 as opposed to their four-win 2019 finish.
This overwhelming idea could lead Van Noy to the New York/New Jersey market to suit up in blue, but the past time spent with Judge shouldn’t be the only reason the veteran potentially signs with the Giants.
Simply speaking, he would be a beneficial piece to add to the mix of outside linebackers the team already employs. Graham runs a situational defense; he likes to rotate guys in and provide them with different levels of playing time based on matchups.
Amid the uncertainty regarding the on-field consistency of 2019 third-round pick Oshane Ximines along with the unknown future of pending free agent Kyler Fackrell, the Giants may need a talented veteran pass rusher to work alongside Lorenzo Carter, Carter Coughlin, and Cam Brown.
Van Noy’s versatility additionally lines up with what Judge and Graham are seeking in their defensive weapons. The soon-to-be 30-year-old could rotate in at inside linebacker and be a matchup-based piece alongside Martinez, a clearcut starter and every-down linebacker.
The mentorship quality could furthermore prove advantageous — young linebackers such as Coughlin, Brown, and Tae Crowder would benefit from working with a veteran like Van Noy.
The Giants would need to acquire him at the right price, given their limited cap space (currently a little over $5 million). But if that can be achieved, there’s little downside to bringing Van Noy in and adding him to a defensive unit that made strides last season.