The New York Giants increased their win total and even almost won the NFC East in 2020. With quarterback Daniel Jones entering his third season as a starter and star running back Saquon Barkley set to return from injury, the Giants aim to fly higher in the 2021-22 season.
However, as New York’s roster is currently constructed, the Giants have holes to fill if they wish to be truly competitive next season, and not just the cream of the crop in the relatively weak division. On defense, the Giants pass rush has been non-existent at times, putting additional pressure on their already less-than-stellar secondary. On offense, Jones needs help all over the field in order to help him succeed. Offensive line, insurance at tight end, and a true threat at wide receiver top should Jones’ offseason wishlist for his offense.
There is plenty of time for the Giants to fill these voids, whether through free agency, trade or the 2021 NFL Draft. Here are five options the Giants should consider to instantly upgrade their roster in 2021. These players don’t come cheap, so while it’s unlikely the Giants could add all of them, each would make a significant impact on the team next season.
5. Hunter Henry, Tight End
Evan Engram is coming off a 63-catch, Pro Bowl season in his fourth year with the Giants. Even with Engram’s upside, New York may not be so set at the tight end position. For one, the depth chart is thin behind Engram. Although the tight end played in all 16 games last season, he was only available for 17 games over the course of the previous two seasons.
In addition to being injury prone, Engram is also drop-prone. After posting a solid 70.3% catch rate in his second season, that mark has regressed to 57.8% as of last season. Engram has also had a hard time finding the end zone, with just a single score last year, and seven over the course of three seasons after scoring six in his rookie season.
Throw in the fact Engram is heading in to a contract year, and the Giants could absolutely use some insurance at the tight end position. The 26-year old tight end Hunter Henry could potentially fill that role for New York.
He is coming off the end of his rookie contract with the Los Angeles Chargers. In 2020, over 14 games, Henry totaled 60 catches, 613 yards, four touchdown receptions and a 64.5% catch rate. Henry has scored four or more touchdowns with a 64.5% or better catch rate in each of his four healthy seasons in the league.
Consistent tight ends are increasingly becoming a commodity in the NFL. While this could drive up Henry’s price tag this offseason, they would be wise to make a commitment at the position, especially with concerns about Engram’s viability in the future. The Giants could also use the 2021 NFL Draft to pick up a cheaper, but riskier prospect at the position.
4. Haasan Reddick, Linebacker
It is no secret that New York’s defense, and specifically their linebacker core and pass rush, could use an upgrade heading into next season. Without a consistent pass rush, their secondary has been stretched thin due to the extra time allotted to opposing quarterbacks.
While the next player on this list would fill a similar role, he would cost a pretty penny to acquire, if he even hits the open market. On the other hand, 26-year old Arizona Cardinals linebacker Hasasan Reddick could be a more viable option for New York.
The Giants would still face competition for the pass rusher, who broke out with 12.5 sacks in his fourth season after accumulating 7.5 sacks through his first three seasons combined. With an impressive six forced fumbles to boot last season, the Cardinals and other NFL teams will be lining up for Reddick’s services. If the Giants are serious about a major upgrade in their pass rush, they should absolutely put a bid in for the 26-year old.
3. Shaquil Barrett, Linebacker
While Reddick is coming off a breakout season as a pass-rusher, former Denver Broncos and current Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Shaquil Barrett experienced his breakout season a year earlier. Barrett exploded with a league-leading 19.5 sacks in 2019, along with six forced fumbles. Last season, he totaled 8.0 sacks and three forced fumbles, which is still impressive considering the extra defensive attention he garnered.
Barrett won a ring in his second season with the Broncos, and is now coming off a second championship title, this time with the Buccaneers. With Tampa Bay’s rise to power and the rare chance to play alongside Tom Brady, Barrett may not be in a rush to leave the Buccaneers just yet.
If Barrett does hit the open market, the Giants will be just one of multiple teams vying for Barrett’s services. If New York breaks the bank and lands the 28-year old, it could be a franchise-altering move for the Giants. Barrett is probably the least likely player on this list to ultimately land on the Giants in 2021; though if he does, he would make the biggest impact.
2. Allen Robinson, Wide Receiver
While Daniel Jones continues to learn and grow at the quarterback position, his production has been limited by the weapons available to him. There is definitely talent in the wide receiver core: Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard are solid options at the top, Golden Tate brings a necessary veteran presence, and Evan Engram is a threat at tight end despite scoring just one touchdown in 2020.
After those four players, there is a stark drop-off. Slayton caught 50 passes for 751 yards and three scores, Shepard hauled in 66 catches for 656 yards and three scores, Engram caught 63 passes for 654 yards and a single score, and Tate had 35 receptions for 388 yards and two touchdowns. After that, no other players had more than 20 catches, 130 yards, or a single score.
At the time being, the Giants are absolutely in the market for an upgrade at the position. Former Chicago Bears wideout Allen Robinson could be a well-rounded choice to give Jones another weapon.
The 27-year old will likely cost a pretty penny after totaling 102 receptions, 1,250 receiving yards, and six touchdowns last season. With 98 catches, 1,147 yards, and seven touchdowns a season prior, Robinson has established himself as a premiere receiving option.
With Robinson at the top of the Giants wide receiver depth chart, Slayton and Shepard could flourish even more against the second and third-best cornerbacks on the opposing defense.
Robinson is far from the only option at wide receiver, with Corey Davis, T.Y. Hilton, Will Fuller, and Sammy Watkins all potentially on the table. If the Giants are big spenders this offseason, it would probably be wiser to spend that money on key defensive upgrades. However, an investment at wide receiver would also pay dividends, giving Jones a higher ceiling and opening up more opportunities for Slayton, Shepard, Engram, and even Barkley.
1. William Jackson, Cornerback
The Giants finished 17th in the NFL in passing defense last season, giving up 238 yards per game. It was an improvement for New York on a year-to-year basis, but still not where the team needs to be defensively if they wish to be competitive. Their pass defense picked off just 11 passes in 2020; the 12th-lowest mark in the league.
William Jackson III, a 28-year old cornerback coming off four seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, could instantly upgrade the Giants secondary. Speed and length are Jackson’s strong suits, as the cornerback excels in covering the opposition’s quickest receiver. Jackson doesn’t match up as well against bigger, more physical receivers, but he could be an integral part of New York’s defense nonetheless. His career interception numbers are also low, but he’s a true cover corner, allowing very few touchdowns to be thrown his way.
While Jackson isn’t the best cornerback in the league, his 71.4 Pro Football Focus Grade and low amount of mileage in his career will make him attractive to multiple teams this offseason. If the Giants whiff on the chance to sign Jackson, then Patrick Peterson and Chidobe Awuzie could be other players on New York’s cornerback radar.