Edge-rusher is a position of strength for the New York Giants, thanks to starters Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari, but it’s a different story in reserve. Depth is suspect, even after Jihad Ward and Oshane Ximines returned in free agency, so the Giants should sign a “bargain” Super Bowl winner who would add experience and production at a “high-value position.”
That’s the advice from Bleacher Report’s David Kenyon, who named Carlos Dunlap as one of three cost-effective pass-rushers who should be on the Giants’ radar: “Even if Leonard Floyd or Yannick Ngakoue are too expensive for New York, how about Justin Houston, Markus Golden or Carlos Dunlap?”
Helping the Kansas City Chiefs win Super Bowl LVII last season makes Dunlap the most intriguing name on the list. That’s despite Houston reportedly drawing interest from around the league and already being mentioned as a good fit for the Giants and defensive coordinator Don ‘Wink’ Martindale.
Veteran Edge a Natural Fit for Giants
Houston’s status as a “hot commodity” in free agency was confirmed by Heavy’s Senior NFL Reporter Matt Lombardo. He also named the four-time Pro Bowler an “ideal fit” for the Giants.
The connection is a good one since Houston spent the 2021 season playing for Martindale with the Baltimore Ravens and is well-versed in the play-caller’s fondness for the blitz. Houston would make an impact at MetLife Stadium, but so would Dunlap, and for many of the same reasons.
Specifically, 34-year-old Dunlap shares Houston’s versatility and ability to create pressure from multiple angles. Although he spent most of 2022 playing as a traditional defensive end in the Chiefs’ 4-3 scheme, Dunlap operated as a standup rusher more often as a member of hybrid fronts for the Seattle Seahawks during the previous two seasons.
No matter where or how he lined up, Dunlap showcased an enduring talent for putting heat on the pocket. He recorded four sacks in a situational role for the Chiefs during the regular season, including this one against Malik Willis and the Tennessee Titans in Week 9.
Dunlap joined the 100-sack club a week later against the Jacksonville Jaguars, proof of his solid track record for getting after quarterbacks. The Giants need as many quality pass-rushers as they can get if they’re going to build on last season’s surprise success and emerge as the dominant force in the NFC East.
Pass-Rush Depth a Blueprint for Success in the East
Having Thibodeaux and Ojulari primed to dominate, while also retaining Ward and Ximines, might makes the Giants appear well-stocked in the pass-rush department. Yet, they only need to look at their division rivals to see the importance of a deep and talented contingent of QB hunters.
Notably, the Philadelphia Eagles owned the division in 2022 thanks to a front-line bounty headlined by Haason Reddick, Josh Sweat, Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox. The trio combined for 45 of the Eagles’ NFL-leading 70 sacks.
Even the second-placed Dallas Cowboys were able to put a fleet of destructive edge-rushers onto the field. Micah Parsons, DeMarcus Lawrence, Dante Fowler and Dorance Armstrong Jr. all brought the heat to varying degrees.
The Giants can match this effect if they add a proven pass-rusher alongside Thibodeaux and Ojulari. Houston or Dunlap fit the bill, with the latter flexible enough to line up on either side, like for this sack of Kyler Murray when the Seahawks beat the Arizona Cardinals 38-30 to close out the 2021 season.
While his numbers for the Chiefs won’t wow anybody, Dunlap logged 13.5 sacks during less than two full campaigns in Seattle.
At 6-foot-6 and 285 pounds, Dunlap can also kick inside to pressure the interior in certain looks. Putting him on the field with Thibodeaux, Ojulari and All-Pro nose tackle Dexter Lawrence would give the Giants a formidable front four in obvious passing situations.
The extra production and schematic flexibility he would generate make Dunlap worth a cost-effective, one-year contract from a team $4,634,387 under the salary cap.