The New York Giants have begun shuffling their roster prior to the start of free agency. This past week the team released two opt out players from 2020, wide receiver Da’Mari Scott and cornerback Shakial Taylor. Now eyes have shifted to a fellow defensive back opt-out, Sam Beal.
Beal was widely perceived by many as a steal and future starter when the Giants used a third-round selection in the 2018 supplement draft to secure the services of the Western Michigan product. Unfortunately, the soon-to-be 25-year-old has fallen vastly below expectations since arriving in East Rutherford, leading ESPN’s Jordan Raanan (among many others) to question whether Beal’s time with the Giants is nearing its demise.
Stunned if he’s back. Hasn’t done much to impress on the field and behind the scenes. https://t.co/QsXkpLZ2fB
— Jordan Raanan (@JordanRaanan) February 12, 2021
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Injuries Have Greatly Hampered Beal’s Development
Projected to go in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft before applying for the 2018 supplementary draft, the 6-foot-1-inch Beal had the look of a potential future lockdown cornerback and heir apparent to Janoris Jenkins in the Giants’ secondary. While Beal still possesses those tantalizing traits, his inability to remain healthy has greatly diminished his long-term outlook and standing within the organization.
His rookie season was wiped clean before it ever started, suffering a season-ending shoulder injury that would land him on injured reserve for the entirety of 2018. His 2019 season started the same way as his 2018 ended, on IR. Beal suffered a hamstring injury prior to the kickoff of the regular season, missing the first nine weeks of the year.
Beal was ultimately activated in early November of the 2019 season and showed some flashes down the stretch. The former Second Team All-MAC selection allowed one touchdown over the 20 pass targets against him, per Pro Football Focus. Furthermore, he allowed just 20 yards total after the catch when targeted.
While the Giants did go out the following offseason to secure a true No. 1 cornerback in James Bradberry, Beal still looked to be in the running for a prominent role in New York’s secondary. That role grew in likelihood following the DeAndre Baker debacle, leaving Beal as the projected starter opposite Bradberry for Week 1 of the 2020 season.
Obviously, that proved not to be the case. Beal chose to exercise the opt-out clause for the 2020 NFL season due to COVID-19 concerns. In return, the Giants spent the majority of the year with a revolving door at their No. 2 cornerback slot. As for Beal, it marked the second full season he’s missed over the last three years. Of Beal’s 48 possible game appearances since joining the Giants in 2018, the Michigan native has appeared in just six.
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Does Giants’ Need at CB Warrant One Last Look at Beal?
As we lightly touched on above, the Giants still lack a legitimate option opposite of James Bradberry. Corey Ballentine, Isaac Yiadom and Ryan Lewis were all given the opportunity to stake claim to the gig in 2020. Some failed altogether, while none cemented themselves as the locked-in starter moving forward.
A case could be made that Beal remains the Giants’ second-best boundary cornerback from a pure talent level behind Bradberry, although a permanent position switch for Julian Love could alter that thinking.
The team will undoubtedly look to upgrade the position this offseason, while the current staff has no previous connection to Beal. With that said, Beal, who doesn’t turn 25-years-old until August, could still prove a worthy contributor for New York’s budding defense if given the opportunity, especially at a position of such need.
The Giants’ best bet from both a roster and financial situation may be to let Beal compete for a starting job this offseason. If he falters, the Giants could save $851K by making him a post-June 1 cut, a nearly $265K increase were he cut prior to June 1.
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