Giants Bring Former 3rd-Round Pick Back in Free Agency: Report

Oshane Ximines

Getty The New York Giants are re-signing a free-agent edge-rusher.

The New York Giants knew they needed better depth at edge-rusher, so they opted to solve the problem by turning to a familiar face. Oshane Ximines will be back for another season with Big Blue after being handed a one-year deal on Wednesday, May 3, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

It’s another chance for the player the Giants selected in the third round of the 2019 NFL draft to prove his worth. Ximines has always had intriguing physical tools, but the former Old Dominion star needs to stay healthy and develop the ability to consistently get after quarterbacks.

Consistently has so far eluded the 25-year-old during four seasons in the pros, and he has a mere 6.5 sacks to show for his career to this point. The paltry return is likely why Dan Duggan of The Athletic expressed surprise the Giants opted to give Ximines another chance.

It is somewhat of a surprise, but the Giants had to beef up their options behind primary edge-rushers Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari. General manager Joe Schoen ignored the position during the draft, so turning to a player who is already familiar with defensive coordinator Don ‘Wink’ Martindale’s schemes makes some sense.

Ximines is the second deputy outside pass-rusher the Giants have re-signed during this year’s free-agency market, after Jihad Ward agreed a new deal back in March.

Giants Need More from 4-Year Pro

He may only have been re-signed as a depth player, but Ximines still has plenty to prove entering his fifth year with the Giants. First, he needs to get onto the field more often after missing 21 games since his rookie season.

Rotator cuff surgery in 2020 proved his most costly injury, but Ximines needs to avoid further setbacks. If he can, there’s still a chance No. 53 can be a factor in Martindale’s blitz-heavy schemes.

Martindale blitzed Ximines 27 times last season, and the player responded by generating nine pressures and six QB knockdowns, per Pro Football Reference.

Ximines can be relentless rushing off the edge, usually winning with hustle. That’s how he notched this decisive sack against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, highlighted by Nick Falato of SB Nation’s Big Blue View, at the Tottenham Stadium in north London back in Week 5.

There should be more to come from Ximines, even in a backup role, but the Giants still need additional help on the edge.

There’s Room for More Edge-Rushers

It was surprising to see Schoen overlook edge-rusher during the draft, given the importance of a deep rotation for Martindale’s 3-4 front and pressure schemes.

Thibodeaux and Ojulari are potentially dominant if they can stay healthy, but they missed a combined 13 games in 2022. Ximines and Ward offer veteran experience, but the Giants still need a more explosive situational edge-rusher.

The ideal scenario would involve undrafted free agent Habakkuk Baldonado showing out during the offseason program and earning this key role. He’s played his collegiate football at Pittsburgh, a school with a pretty decent record for sending productive defensive linemen to the NFL, including Los Angeles Rams’ perennial All-Pro Aaron Donald, as well as former New England Patriots‘ end Jabaal Sheard and even Giants’ great Keith Hamilton.

Baldonado knows how to use his hands to beat blockers, a talent spotlighted by Aaron Day of DLineVids.

Strong and smart hands usage helped Baldonado log nine sacks and 12 tackles for loss in 2021, before injuries wrecked his final year with the Panthers. Going undrafted was a disappointment, but at 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds, Baldonado has the right physical profile to quickly get up to speed in the pros.

If he can become a factor in the rotation alongside Ximines and Ward, two players Martindale trusts, Baldonado will ensure the Giants are well-stocked behind their Thibodeaux and Ojulari.

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