According to NorthJersey.com’s Art Stapleton, the Giants intend to sign veteran free-agent cornerback Ross Cockrell, should he clear the camp-entry COVID-19 testing.
Per the report, Cockrell visited the Giants on Saturday, just one day after starting cornerback DeAndre Baker was formally charged on four counts of robbery with a firearm, and just two days following Sam Beal’s decision to opt-out of the 2020 NFL season.
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Cockrell Returns to New York
The 29-year-old Cockrell, who last played with the Carolina Panthers one season ago, will have a homecoming of sorts upon his likely arrival in New York. Cockrell will once again join James Bradberry in the Giants secondary, as the two were teammates in Carolina last year.
Cockrell’s signing will also mark the beginning of his second stint in a Giants uniform. Cockrell was traded to New York from the Pittsburgh Steelers at the start of the 2017 NFL regular season. The Duke alumn went on to appear in all 16 games with the Giants that season, making nine starts and recording three interceptions and 11 passes defended.
What to Expect from Cockrell
Cockrell offers versatility from both the slot and boundary corner position. At 6-feet tall and 190-pounds, he comes in as one of the bigger cornerbacks on the roster and will likely compete for an outside gig, as there is already a slew of nickelbacks on the current roster.
With that said, the addition of Cockrell will likely not halt the Giants from continuing to sniff around the cornerback market moving forward.
While his 2019 production looks solid on paper, racking up 62 total tackles, two interceptions and eight passes defended, the advance metrics show Cockrell struggled mightily at times a season ago. The ex-Panthers defensive back finished with a fairly abysmal Pro Football Focus grade of just 57.5 last year. This is likely a major reason for him remaining on the open market as we embark on the second week of August.
Yet, Cockrell’s drop in play could be attributed to a broken left tibia that he suffered in training camp the year prior, which led to his placement on injured reserve.
The Giants will be looking for Cockrell to tap into his pre-injury form in his return to New York, as the corner had averaged a solid 72.2 PFF grade over a three-year span prior to the broken tibia, including a 71.1 grade during his one-year stint in New York back in 2017.
The Giants are down two of their top three corners and we’re still a month away from the regular season. Cockrell may not be the be-all end-all answer to Big Blue’s concerns in their secondary. However, at this point, New York is simply looking for viable options on the backend of their defense and Cockrell is just that.