Adding a proven pass-rusher with 67 career sacks for the bargain price of a fifth-round pick in the 2024 NFL draft is a smart trade proposal the New York Giants would find difficult to ignore.
That’s the scenario outlined by Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine, who sends Houston Texans’ edge Jerry Hughes to the Giants for a fifth-rounder. Writing first from the point of view of the Texans, Ballentine wonders if there’s still a place for 34-year-old Hughes after Houston selected Will Anderson Jr. third overall in this year’s draft.
Ballentine also believes the “Giants could use another veteran edge-rusher. Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari are a promising young pair of pass-rushers, but the options behind them haven’t done much.”
It’s a sound argument, as is the idea “Hughes should enjoy playing on that defensive line where he would see plenty of one-on-one situations” thanks to formidable Giants’ defensive tackles Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams.
Veteran Still Has Plenty Left
Despite playing in his 13th season and on a struggling team, Hughes proved he still has plenty left by logging nine sacks in 16 starts. His tally featured three multiple-sack games, including getting to Jalen Hurts twice against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 8.
Putting heat on the pocket has rarely been a problem for Hughes throughout a lengthy career that’s also taken in stops with the Indianapolis Colts and Buffalo Bills. Experienced at both outside linebacker and defensive end mean he’d perfectly fit within the Giants’ multiple-front schemes.
Defensive coordinator Don ‘Wink’ Martindale loves to blitz and would appreciate the skills of an edge-rusher who’s generated 70 pressures in the last three seasons, per Pro Football Reference.
Putting Hughes into the mix with starters Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari would give the Giants a legitimate triple threat off the edges. It would also provide Martindale with a starter-ready veteran in case Thibodeaux and Ojulari falter.
Giants Still Have Question Marks at Key Position
A lot is expected of Ojulari and Thibodeaux, but the latter admitted he was left disgusted by his rookie game film. Thibodeaux needs to make a significant second-year leap, while Ojulari just needs to stay healthy after missing 10 games last season.
Ojulari’s attempts to stay on the field this year have seen him take up yoga during the offseason, according to Dan Duggan of The Athletic. Ojulari revealed “it was different. It was kind of harder than you think. It’s a workout. But I’m like, if it’s going to benefit me, why not take it serious and try to help myself?”
Martindale needs Ojulari at full strength to act as Thibodeaux’s bookend because depth remains suspect. The Giants re-signed Jihad Ward and Oshane Ximines in free agency, but the pair combined for only five sacks in 2022.
Undrafted free agent Habakkuk Baldonado is another option, but the rotation would look a lot stronger with a proven commodity like Hughes introduced to the fold. He might be in the winter of his career, but the Giants could get another two or three seasons out of Hughes in a situational role.
His presence would expand the looks Martindale can show offenses in pressure situations, as well as offer cover for the Giants’ primary starting pass-rushers. Those things would make giving up a fifth-round pick a true bargain.