For a team fresh off their third consecutive double-digit losing season, the New York Giants have quite the looming list of roster decisions when it comes to retaining in-home talent. Offensively, guard Kevin Zeitler and/or Will Hernandez will more than likely be sent packing this offseason, as is the case with wide receiver Golden Tate. Defensively, the team was able to secure safety Logan Ryan for the long-haul, locking down the standout veteran through 2023. However, the front-seven has questions of their own, namely the defensive line.
Both Dalvin Tomlinson and Leonard Williams are impending free agents and expected to warrant excessive interest on the open market. The Giants reportedly shot down a trade offer for Tomlinson from the Green Bay Packers prior to this year’s trade deadline, likely meaning the organization envisions a scenario where they can retain the big-bodied run-stuffer moving forward.
This could lead to the somewhat financially strapped G-Men on the outside looking in when it comes to re-upping Williams, whose play in 2020 may have priced himself out of New York’s budget. Fresh off a dominant 11.5 sack campaign, the former No. 6 overall pick became just the second Giants player to record double-digit sacks in a single season since 2014. His efforts have earned him the No. 3 placement on ESPN’s list of top free agents of 2021.
If Williams were to walk this offseason, it would leave New York’s pass-rush essentially depleted and likely in the market to quickly replace his services, as no other Giants defender registered more than 4.0 sacks last season.
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Yannick Ngakoue to Signs with the Giants?
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
With Pro Football Focus predicting Williams chasing an $80 million contract ($47.5 million guaranteed) elsewhere this offseason, the folks at the analytics powerhouse believe the Giants will look to replace Williams’ production with Baltimore Ravens edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue.
Sharing reported mutual interest last offseason, the 25-year-old, one-time Pro Bowler set Giants Twitter/Instagram ablaze with a simple emoji last February.
Ultimately the reported interest never materialized into anything greater. Ngakoue has since changed teams not once, but twice since that Instagram comment, never once with the Giants appearing to be a serious landing spot.
Originally dealt from the Jacksonville Jaguars to the Minnesota Vikings for a 2021 second-round pick and a conditional fifth-round pick, Ngakoue recorded five sacks over six games (five starts) before the then 1-5 Vikings shipped the defensive end to Baltimore in exchange for a 2021 third-round pick and a 2022 conditional fifth-round pick. He’d prove far less productive over his abbreviated stint with the Ravens, recording a sack in just two of his 11 games.
Now, with a contract decision on Matthew Judon looming and recent history when it comes to Baltimore and talented pass-rushers, PFF predicts Ngakoue will once again be on the move, soon calling East Rutherford his new home.
Contract Analysis: Eventually, a team that trades for Ngakoue has to pay him, right? Ngakoue shouldn’t be too confident in that happening, as Baltimore let Za’Darius Smith walk after 2018 and couldn’t come to terms with Matthew Judon this past offseason. They’re not afraid of losing edge rushers.
Prediction: Giants sign Ngakoue for four years, $70 million ($17.5M APY): $40 million total guaranteed, $30 million fully guaranteed at signing.
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Giants’ Dominant Interior Could Take Ngakoue’s Game to New Heights
It may not seem like much, but Ngakoue’s $70 million ($40 million guaranteed) deal would come in $10 million cheaper than that of Leonard’s predicted $80 million contract, with $7.5 million less in guaranteed cash.
While a Williams return to New York should ultimately be the top priority for the Giants this offseason, any extra spending money to go towards supplying quarterback Daniel Jones with weapons would be much-welcomed.
Plus, Ngakoue’s ability to bend the corner as a true edge-rusher would gift the Giants with a talent that has eluded them for years. While certainly not the most well-rounded pass-rusher in the game, his skillset could prove the perfect match alongside a dominant interior front headed by the likes of Dalvin Tomlinson and Dexter Lawrence, as PFF highlighted:
He excels from wide alignments where he can threaten the edge and has the inside counters to keep offensive tackles off balance. Since 2017, Ngakoue has the eighth-best pass-rush grade in the league when rushing from wide alignments (89.1), but he grades out at just 68.3 from all other defensive line alignments.
Ngakoue’s best role is as a designated pass-rusher on a team with strong interior rushers and in a scheme where he can stay on the outside while limiting his work in the run game.
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