The Giants‘ 53-man roster is set … for now. There are still moves general manager Joe Schoen will likely make to find the best 53 guys with the Sept. 11 season-opener against the Titans approaching.
But for right now, we have a good enough idea of how this team will look to commence the regular season.
Some thoughts on Big Blue’s current active roster:
Schoen adds DB depth. When the Giants initially trimmed the roster to 53, there were only eight defensive backs on the roster. Yes, you read that right. Five cornerbacks — Adoree’ Jackson, Aaron Robinson, Rodarius Williams, Darnay Holmes, and rookie Cor’Dale Flott — and three safeties — Xavier McKinney, Julian Love, and rookie Dane Belton.
At first glance, it looked like a disaster for a blitz-heavy Wink Martindale defense that will rely on plenty of man coverage. Especially with the lack of inexperience among the aforementioned eight players (Jackson is the most experienced entering his sixth season).
It was obvious Schoen was going to work the waiver wire to find extra bodies, which he did Wednesday.
The Giants added defensive backs Justin Layne (Steelers), Nick McCloud (Bills), and Jason Pinnock (Jets). Pinnock was a surprising release by Jets general manager Joe Douglas, who drafted the young safety in last year’s fifth round. Pinnock has played multiple spots since entering the league and should provide reliable depth with Belton returning from a broken collarbone and Love having shown inconsistency throughout his career.
I still would expect this secondary to be the reason why the Giants defense likely struggles in 2022 though. Outside linebackers Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari and defensive lineman Leonard Williams bring talent to the pass rush, but poor defensive back play will render the front seven ineffective.
Martindale’s rushers. As we alluded to before, Martindale likes to rush the passer. His exotic blitz looks are partly why quarterback Daniel Jones and the offense struggled in training camp.
So it makes sense the Giants have retained six outside linebackers (for now) in Thibodeaux, Ojulari, Elerson Smith, Oshane Ximines, Jihad Ward, and undrafted rookie Tomon Fox.
Martindale wants to constantly pressure opposing quarterbacks week-in and week-out and needs as many bodies as possible to do so.
Two QBs? There was belief the Giants were going to retain three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster: starter Daniel Jones, veteran backup Tyrod Taylor, and preseason star Davis Webb.
But come on now — that’s not how the NFL rolls. Two quarterbacks on the active roster with one on the practice squad is fine. And that’s the route the Giants are currently taking.
Why waste a spot on a third quarterback when you can have more roster flexibility for an extra defensive back or offensive lineman?
Keeping Webb on the active roster wouldn’t have made sense, despite what he was able to do in the preseason (against third-stringers, mind you).
Seven wideouts? Don’t worry — that number will get down to six and the Giants can then use that extra spot for depth at another position. Kenny Golladay, rookie Wan’Dale Robinson, Sterling Shepard, Kadarius Toney, David Sills, and Richie James should be on the roster, with Darius Slayton as the odd man out.
Cutting or trading Slayton would save the Giants $2.54 million in cap space. And every penny counts when the financials are disastrous (the Giants are currently half-a-million-dollars over the cap, per Spotrac).
Dumping Slayton without recouping anything in return would be a waste, but don’t expect the Giants to get much. Slayton’s decline in production since 2019, scarce special teams value, and the Giants’ desperate need for cap room should diminish New York’s leverage in trade talks. Expect a late-rounder to come the Giants’ way for Slayton, if a deal is made.