Cornerback Corey Ballentine has been waived, bringing his one-and-a-half year run in East Rutherford to a halt. The former Washburn corner appeared in 22 games over his Giants tenure, starting the first two games of 2020 before eventually falling out of favor with the coaching staff.
Ballentine’s release freed up a roster spot for wide receiver/return specialist Dante Pettis, who was claimed off of waivers last week. New York also welcomed back guard Will Hernandez, activating the starter off the Reserve/COVID-19 list after missing each of the past two games.
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Ballentine’s Failure to Claim a Role Eager to be Filled
The Giants entered 2020 with a whirlwind of question marks at the cornerback position. DeAndre Baker’s arrest and eventual release left a glaring hole opposite free-agent addition James Bradberry. Sam Beal, the logical next man up opted out of the season, further stripping New York of talent on the backend.
Still, despite these losses, the Giants did not aggressively look to fill what many deemed an obvious need. A few waiver claims for undrafted free agents and a trade acquiring Isaac Yiadom from the Denver Broncos for a mere seventh-rounder was essentially as far as the front office would go to address the position. Instead, the Giants seemingly placed their faith in Ballentine, a former sixth-rounder out of Division II Washburn.
Ballentine put forth a highly-underwhelming rookie season in 2019, posting a 36.6 overall Pro Football Focus grade. However, the hope was that his lackluster play had much to do with the fact that he was forced to play out of position. Due to numerous injuries in the secondary, Ballentine was asked to play predominantly in the slot as a rookie.
In year two, with the additions of veteran Logan Ryan and rookie Darnay Holmes, Ballentine could not work on the outside, a role he excelled at in college, even winning the Cliff Harris Award as a senior (nation’s top small college defensive players).
Unfortunately, Ballentine’s struggles seeped into his sophomore NFL campaign. He drew the start in Week 1 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, logging 92% of the team’s defensive snaps. However, it became quickly apparent that Ballentine was not the Giants’ preferred answer at the position, but rather a stopgap solution.
Ballentine was once again in Big Blue’s starting lineup come Week 2, but quickly ceded playing time to the aforementioned Isaac Yiadom. Ballentine saw a 47% dip in snaps against the Chicago Bears and by Week 3 he was completely voided from the team’s gameplan. Ballentine went on to log just 17 snaps over the next seven games, including zero snaps in six of those games.
The Giants’ second cornerback spot has been a revolving door this season, as Yiadom suffered the same fate as Ballentine, losing his gig to Ryan Lewis a few weeks later. However, a hamstring injury has since forced Lewis to injured reserve and Yiadom back in the starting lineup, where he’s played 100% of the team’s defensive snaps in back-to-back weeks.
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