Daniel Jones has a new contract, while Saquon Barkley got the franchise tag. Now’s the time for the New York Giants to focus on addressing other needs in free agency and the 2023 NFL draft, needs including inside linebacker.
The position requires an infusion of athleticism and versatility, qualities Tremaine Edmunds of the Buffalo Bills can provide. Edmunds is ideal for the Giants, according to Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders, writing for ESPN: “Edmunds had a 74% success rate in coverage with just 3.9 yards allowed per pass last season. His run defense was not quite that good, but it was functional, with his average tackle coming after a gain of 3.8 yards, about average for NFL linebackers. As a bonus, Edmunds is only 24 years old; he doesn’t turn 25 until May, so the Giants would be getting his prime years.”
Edmunds fits the profile of what the Giants need at linebacker, but his pedigree means he won’t come cheap. Fortunately, general manager Joe Schoen, who knows the player from his own days with the Bills, structured Jones’ new contract in a way that’s still left the Giants with enough money to be serious players in the veteran market.
2-Time Pro-Bowler Worth Investment for Giants
Pursuing Edmunds would raise the profile of the Giants’ recent attempts to bolster their talent at linebacker. Frankly, the search has been more of the bargain-bucket variety, yielding veteran retreads like Jaylon Smith and Jarrad Davis.
The Giants re-signed Davis, per Matt Citak of Giants.com, but the former Detroit Lions’ starter needs a more dynamic athlete next to him.
Edmunds doesn’t belong in the retread bracket. Instead, he’s an “athletic phenom who is just beginning to scratch the surface of his true potential,” according to Pro Football Network’s Dalton Miller.
The high regard Edmunds is held in by league observers is reflected in a market value projected by Spotrac.com to be just over $11 million annually for four years. That represents a hefty potential contract, even with the Giants having $18,916,080 worth of space under the salary cap.
It’s a solid number in the wake of committing $10.091 million to tagging Barkley. What helps is how Schoen limited the Giants cap hit for the first year of Jones’ four-year, $160 million deal, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler:
Schoen has left the Giants with enough funds to make a splash in free agency. There are ample reasons why Edmunds should be the target.
24-Year-Old Would Be an Instant Impact Player for Giants
The Giants need more range at the position, and that’s just what Edmunds would provide. He’s no thumper defending the running game, but he still missed just one tackle all of last season, per Pro Football Reference.
Edmunds also allowed only 39 completions from 60 targets in coverage. His comfort against the pass would be an immediate asset for a Giants’ defense burned by tight ends too often last season.
The weakness showed up in the playoffs, when T.J. Hockenson of the Minnesota Vikings caught 10 passes for 129 yards. Although the Giants beat the Vikes, their linebackers were burned again by Philadelphia Eagles’ tight end Dallas Goedert, who made five catches for 58 yards during a season-ending 38-7 defeat for Big Blue.
Edmunds can solve the problem and he’s likely to be available, according to ESPN Insider Adam Schefter, who told NFL Live (h/t Nick Wojton of Bills Wire): “They’re also expected to lose Tremaine Edmunds in Buffalo as well, a free agent, and I don’t think that he’ll be back in Buffalo.”
The time is ripe for the Giants to prepare a contract for a multi-faceted linebacker who could become the signal-caller for the front seven. Edmunds would have no problem reaching stardom behind a loaded front already underpinned by edge-rushers Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari and All-Pro nose tackle Dexter Lawrence II.
Schoen is familiar with Edmunds from when he served as assistant general manager for the Bills, a connection the Giants can exploit once free agency opens.