Giants Sign Run-Stuffing Free Agent Before 2023 NFL Draft

A'Shawn Robinson

Getty Images Meet the newest member of the Giants' defensive line: A'Shawn Robinson

The New York Giants didn’t wait for the 2023 NFL draft to make roster additions. 

Big Blue announced it signed free agent A’Shawn Robinson on Monday, adding to a defensive line group that already features Dexter Lawrence, Leonard Williams, and offseason pick-up Rakeem Nunez-Roches. 

Robinson’s one-year contract is worth up to $8 million, according to NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo. 

Robinson, 28, spent his last three seasons with the Los Angeles Rams and helped them win a Super Bowl. He visited the Giants in March, but left without a deal. 

That deal finally came together days before the 2023 NFL draft, helping the Giants address address a roster weakness and potentially allocate draft capital elsewhere.

Here’s what you need to know about Robinson and his fit on the Giants’ defense:

A’Shawn Robinson Addresses Giants’ Biggest Weakness

Robinson’s specialty just happens to be a giant Giants weakness. 

The 6-foot-4, 330-pound Robinson is “one of best run defenders in the league,” according to The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic. His run stop percentage was third best in the league last season, according to ESPN analytics. He had 20 tackles for loss before suffering a season-ending knee injury last year, per Rams team reporter Stu Jackson. 

That kind of talent could certainly help Big Blue’s 27th-ranked run defense. 

Only five teams —  the Texans, Bears, Seahawks, Lions, and Chargers — allowed more rushing yards than the Giants did in 2022. Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale likened Big Blue’s run defense to a leaky dam in an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Pat Traina. 

Now Martindale gets Robinson, who nearly signed with Baltimore three years ago to be under his tutelage, according to ESPN’s Jordan Raanan. And general manager Joe Schoen gets another depth signing to fill out his team’s clearest weakness. 

“We gotta be better next year stopping the run,” Schoen told reporters at the 2023 NFL Combine in March. “I think some of that is our depth where Dexter (Lawrence) doesn’t have to play the amount of snaps he played or Leo (Leonard Williams) doesn’t have to be out there as much as he was out there. That’s important, not only there but we have to improve the depth across the board.”

Credit Schoen for finding fixes like Robinson. Together with fellow offseason additions Nunez-Roches and linebacker Bobby Okereke, the Giants don’t need to force run-defense reinforcements with picks during Thursday’s draft. 

A’Shawn Robinson Signing Could Trigger Leonard Williams Move 

Robinson’s $8 million price tag is a relative bargain for his skill set. 

But his signing could signal the Giants are ready to address fellow defensive lineman Williams, who carries a staggering $34 million cap hit this season according to Spotrac. 

That cap hit is fourth-highest in football behind Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill, and Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson — if Jackson signs his fully-guaranteed franchise tender. 

An outright Williams release is unlikely because of a $20.2 million dead money hit, according to beat reporter Darryl Slater. The Giants might instead look to rework Williams’ deal to alleviate such a heavy cap hit — a move Schoen sounds like he’s fine with.

“When he’s healthy, I still think (Williams is) a good player in the league,” Schoen told Slater. “When you look in the draft the last few years, the defensive tackles are just not producing as they have in the past. So it’s becoming harder and harder to find those guys. We want to be solid up front on both sides of the ball. We know what the [cap] number is, but we still think he plays at a high level.”

Williams could be even scarier with a block-eater like Robinson as a teammate. It’s likely New York wants to see both on the field in the fall. 

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