It is rare that a team experiences a historically bad season a year removed from an 11-5 record but that is exactly what happened to the 2017 New York Giants. A slew of injuries and poor play brought the team down to a 3-13 record but with a new coach and general manager, the franchise has taken steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again. So let’s take a look at some of their moves and grade the New York Giants free agency acquisitions.
First, what is the biggest weakness the NY Giants have? Offensive line? Defense? Backfield?
Try all the above and then some.
As the 2018 NFL Draft approaches, the Giants’ brand new front office took advantage of filling these some of these holes during the free agency whirlwind. Dave Gettleman and Pat Shurmur were subtle but mostly effective in their pick-ups.
It may be easy to take a quick look at their free agency signees and assign low grades, but this franchise is focusing on growth, leadership and protection. That all has to be taken into account for when grading these players, ranging from 10-year veterans to undrafted and recovering players.
LT Nate Solder
4 years, $62 million, $35 million guaranteed
This was the biggest catch in the Giants’ free agency signings. The money tells the story and Solder was definitely worth it. Take into account the seven seasons under his belt in which he won two Super Bowls and had the bragging rights of protecting Tom Brady. Solder has played in 98 regular-season games, started in 95 and has experience at right tackle and tight end from his time in college, proving his athleticism. He also holds the Pats’ record for starting snaps. The man is well-trusted. Don’t forget that he literally fits the part, weighing in at 325 lbs. and towering at a sturdy 6’8″. Solder’s strength and durability combined with the veteran status provide a huge catalyst for the Giants’ stagnant offensive line which was arguably their biggest weakness this past season. If Gettleman didn’t shoot high, Solder wouldn’t have given this team a thought.
3 years, $15 million, $5.5 million guaranteed
While it isn’t as dramatic of a catch as Solder, signing Omameh is still very relevant. Omameh started 13 games with the Jacksonville Jaguars last season. With Omameh, the Jaguars led the NFL in rushing last season, averaging 141.4 yards per game. After starting his career a little unsteady, Omameh has since grown from being an undrafted free agent in 2013 out of Michigan. He landed with the San Francisco 49ers practice squad in his first year before landing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2013, where he started all 16 games. Since then he has played in 53 games total and started in 45. He weighs in at 327 lbs. and stands at 6’4″. Although his ranking as an offensive lineman last season settled at mid-grade, he ranked higher than every Giants’ linemen. A little stability could be an advantage for Omaheh.
Continued from contract with the Los Angeles Rams of 4 years, $42 million
Acquired through a trade, the Giants made a huge snatch with Ogletree in which they gave up a fourth and sixth-round pick in this year’s draft. The trade leaves the Giants with five selections in the 2018 draft – one in each of the first five rounds but, it leaves them with a speedy, diverse linebacker. Ogletree was selected in the first round of the 2013 draft by the Rams. As a rookie, he had 155 tackles, 169 in the following season, 171 in 2016 and 95 last year. He has led the Rams in tackles in four of five seasons and the one season he didn’t he was battling injuries. At only 26 years old, with a build at 6’2″ and 235 lbs., Ogletree brings a fresh maturity and natural success to him. Hopefully he can find balance on a team with emotional and high-strung players.
3 years, $21 million (with incentives), $7.5 million guaranteed
The Giants could not pass up reuniting their new defensive coordinator, James Bettcher, who spent four seasons with Martin, an impressive outside linebacker. Last season with the Cardinals, Martin started a career-high 10 games, rounding up 24 tackles, three passes defended, two tackles for a less, one interception, one sack and one forced fumble. By the numbers alone, Martin can and will be an impact player for the Giants’ defense. Not only does Martin have the ability to cover the field by himself (46 career tackles, 35 solo), but now he will be paired with the likes of Olivier Vernon. That is the kind combination this franchise needs.
1 year, $880,000
The reunions continue with this pick-up. Gettleman used his connections by reaching out to his old team plus he had former Carolina Panthers’ special team coordinator Thomas McGaughey to do some more persuading. Williams spent three seasons with the Panthers. Having not played last season due to a shoulder injury, the Giants are taking somewhat of a risk. Williams was subsequently waived but he also has a history of injury. In 2016, Williams only played three games before being placed on injured reserve after a knee injury in practice. In the game before, he had a career-high seven tackles and intercepted Drew Brees for his first career pick at New Orleans. Williams has played a total 36 games after being a rookie free agent in 2012, for five different teams. His stat sheet is less than half of someone like Martin. A pick-up like this is questionable but can just simply be an option for depth and special teams.
CB Curtis Riley
This is another risky pick-up. No matter how small the piece, the Giants are trying to add depth and provide a secondary, but what about stability? Riley was signed by the Tennessee Titans as a free agent in 2015 but missed his rookie season with an injury. After returning, he only managed to play 11 games. Last season he had one interception and two passes defended. Riley also bounced between two smaller colleges before establishing a role at Fresno State. The Giants have two legitimate corners in Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple even after cutting Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Apple has had discipline issues which require additional security at the position. Riley and Williams are going to have to stay healthy and improve quickly if either of them is going to fill those shoes.
2 years, $6.9 million
Taking a first glance at this contract causes initial bewilderment but hold on, let’s dig deeper. First, this is another Panther connection. Too easy. Stewart is a 10-year veteran, similar to Sodler, but different in progress. Last season was arguably the worst season of his career, rushing for 680 yards at a career-low 3.4 yards per carry. This is not about stats, this is about locker room leadership. Stewart has a history with Gettleman, Mike Shula, New York’s new offensive coordinator, and exec Mark Konez. His veteran status holds 7,000 rushings yards and the leading rushing title for the Panthers. Stewart holds tenure and knowledge and that is something the Giants have lacked and desperately need. He also can provide knowledge to the Giants’ current running back Orleans Darkwa or even a possible drafted Saquon Barkley.
CB B.W. Webb
Another question of stability. This is Webb’s his sixth season and seventh team. Last season he was ruled inactive for the Cleveland Browns. In 2016, Webb had eight starts for the New Orleans Saints where he recorded a career-high totals of 30 tackles (25 solo) and an interception. This was his deepest impact. Webb was selected in the fourth round of the 2013 draft out of William & Mary by the Dallas Cowboys. He racked up 12 tackles (nine solo) and four special teams tackles that season. Between 2013 and 2016 he was cut, waived and released between four teams. If the Giants can keep him consistent and relevant, Webb had potential to make an impact either on the secondary or stepping up above Riley or Williams.
WR Cody Latimer
This may be the Giants’ silent cannon. One of the last free agents to sign, Latimer has been an under-the-radar player for the Denver Broncos. In his first four, seasons he played in 45 regular-season games with three starts and had 35 receptions for 445 yards and three touchdowns. Latimer also averaged 24.4 yards on 18 kickoff returns. On the postseason road to Super Bowl 50, he had three receptions. Last season was rough as he started in only one game and was injured for the remainder. Playing with the likes of Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard is going to be quite the experience for Latimer but it can catapult him into a significant player, whether it be as a secondary receiver or through special teams.
RE-SIGNED FREE AGENTS
DE Kerry Wynn
- Has served as a backup defensive end and special teams component.
- Expected to be a run-stuffer in a 3-4 base.
- Originally undrafted free agent, re-signed with Giants in 2017 and 2018.
OL Jon Halapio
- Selected in the sixth round by the Browns in 2014.
- Played in first regular season game with Giants in 2017.
- Has 10 games, six starts and was retained despite the overhaul of offensive linemen.
- Waived from Miami Dolphins and Carolina Panthers (easy connect to Gettleman).
- Played 23 games over two seasons with the Giants.
- Recorded 16 tackles in 15 games.
- Put on the injured reserve in 2017.
- Nominee for Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, for community service (provides image and leadership).
- Played 88 games, 17 starts since 2011 with Giants.
- Valuable on special teams.
OL John Greco
- 10-year veteran.
- Reunited with Shumur, who had ties with him during time with the Rams and Browns.