The New York Giants may very well pull the trigger on a pass rusher with the No. 11 overall pick during the first night of the 2021 NFL Draft. Prospects such as Jaelen Phillips, Kwity Paye, Azeez Ojulari and Gregory Rousseau are all realistic possibilities.
Yet, even if they ultimately do address the position, their work may not be done. Only one edge defender (Ifeadi Odenigbo) on the Giants’ current roster has ever logged more than 4.5 sacks in a single season. Yet, with limited cap space ($5,040,201 per Spotrac), their best plan of action when it comes to bolstering their pass rush beyond the draft may come via trade.
Tight end Evan Engram isn’t exactly a fan favorite amongst Giants faithful. Yes, he was elected to his first Pro Bowl this past season. Yet, he’s seen his career riddled with injuries and drops. With the signing of Kyle Rudolph earlier this offseason and the presence of both Kaden Smith and Levin Toilolo, it’s fair to question Engram’s staying power in East Rutherford.
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Evan Engram-Dennis Gardeck Trade Proposal
- New York Giants receive:
- EDGE Dennis Gardeck
- 2021 fifth-round pick
- Arizona Cardinals receive:
- TE Evan Engram
- 2022 sixth-round pick
“The Cardinals clearly value Gardeck — they gave him a second-round restricted free agent tender — but they also added J.J. Watt this offseason, return Chandler Jones and re-signed Markus Golden,” Rosenblatt wrote. “They’re loaded at edge rusher and don’t necessarily need Gardeck, who is still unproven even if he had a ridiculous sack rate (seven sacks in 94 snaps) in 2020. Meanwhile, they’re clearly all-in on trying to win during Kyler Murray’s rookie contract window, and they likely won’t find a better tight end than Engram (especially not at his cost, just $6 million) on the open market. He’s only 26 and could theoretically grow with Murray, too.”
So, the question is, does this move make sense for the Cardinals? In short, yes. Adding another receiving option for quarterback Kyler Murray — especially one who could man snaps in the slot with Larry Fitzgerald’s career in limbo — would be a win for Arizona. Not to mention Engram seems like the type of athlete that could potentially blow up with a simple change of scenery.
Murray has never really had a tight end to lean on throughout his young career in the desert. And while Engram isn’t exactly the most reliable weapon, he’s more talented than last year’s top-option Dan Arnold, who the team has yet to truly replace since he went and signed with the Panthers this offseason.
Gardeck Flashed Big-Time Upside in 2020
We’ve already touched on the lack of fandom Engram receives in Giants circles. Still, fans can appreciate his upside and skillset enough to know his worth on the open market. In return, many are probably reading Rosenblatt’s take thinking to themselves “Dennis Gardeck? Really?”
While not a household name by any means, Cardinals fans are well acquainted with Gardeck’s ability to make splash plays. A four-year pro and special teams captain (likely music to Joe Judge’s ears), the former undrafted free agent logged the first defensive snaps of his career in 2020. His usage was still vastly limited, playing just 94 snaps on the season. However, he certainly made those plays count. In 14 games with the Cardinals last year, Gardeck finished second on the team with 7.0 sacks. For comparison, Haason Reddick — who led the team in sacks with 12.5 — played 780 more defensive snaps than Gardeck. The 26-year-old also notched 16 tackles, seven tackles for loss and 10 quarterback hits.
The biggest drawback in this move from a Giants perspective is Gardeck’s health. The Sioux Falls product suffered a torn ACL against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 15 of last year, putting his immediate availability in question.
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