Brandon Boykin and the New York Giants have a history. Boykin spent the first three seasons of his NFL career with the NFC East rival Philadelphia Eagles, and in 2014 had a highly-publicized spat with then-Giant Walter Thurmond over Thurmond's claim that he was the league's best slot cornerback at the time.
Well, Thurmond's career with the Giants lasted two games and he spent 2015 playing safety for the Eagles. Boykin got traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers, took shots at Chip Kelly on his way out the door, endured a very strange season and is now an unrestricted free agent.
All of that preamble is leading up to a simple question: Is it time for Boykin and the Giants to join forces?
The Giants started the season with Trumaine McBride in the slot and finished it with Trevin Wade there. Both are, at best, stop-gaps. The Giants also have the free agency of cornerback Prince Amukamara hanging over them.
After being acquired by Pittsburgh for a conditional draft choice (fourth or fifth-round based on playing time), Boykin played only 274 defensive snaps (24 percent) for the Steelers. He played in only three of Pittsburgh's first 11 games for a paltry 22 total snaps before becoming a regular part of the defensive rotation the final fives games. He played no fewer than 39 snaps in any of those contests.
Walter Football ranks Boykin No. 60 on its list of the top 90 unrestricted free agents:
The Steelers had one of the top nickel corners in the NFL at their disposal, yet they inexplicably didn't use him for most of the year. Overwhelmed defensive coordinator Keith Butler finally began utilize him in December, and it paid off big time, as Brandon Boykin performed extremely well.
Here is what our friends over at SB Nation's Behind the Steel Curtain had to say about the Boykin experience in 2015:
So, to put a bow on this entire saga, Boykin went from a spectator, to one of the most used defensive weapons at the cornerback position. Certainly seems fishy, as it would be rare for Boykin to just suddenly start to play better in practice the last quarter of the season. Did the Steelers not play Boykin intentionally? Were they concerned about losing a 4th round draft pick? Personally, I don't think so, but conspiracy theorists would likely disagree.
Nonetheless, Boykin's weird season in the Steel City is over, and he becomes a free agent this offseason. Pittsburgh would be smart to see what it would cost to have his services back in 2016 and beyond, except this time without any concern of potential snap totals.
Boykin, a 2012 fourth-round pick by the Eagles, turns 26 in July. Thus, he should have plenty of prime seasons left. Should the Giants, at least, kick the tires and see if Boykin is a match for them?