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Another honor for Olivier Vernon, who makes PFF top 101 players of 2018 list

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OV checks in at No. 70, the first Giant to make the list

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Chicago Bears v New York Giants Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

When it comes to Olivier Vernon, New York Giants fans spend a lot of time complaining about the money he makes, the games he misses and the quarterback sacks he doesn’t get.

Vernon’s peers and the analysts who study the game for a living, though, just keeping honoring the Giants defensive end/outside linebacker.

First, Vernon was named a Pro Bowl alternate after the 2018 season. He ended up playing in the game as a replacement for Khalil Mack of the Chicago Bears. Now, Pro Football Focus has named Vernon No. 70 on its list of the top 101 players of 2018. Going in reverse order, PFF has gone from No. 101 to No. 50 thus far, with Vernon being the only Giant on the list to this point.

PFF says:

After an ankle injury forced Vernon from the field early in the 2018 season, he rebounded nicely with an 86.3 overall grade and 86.0 pass rush grade, ranking 13th and tied-for-seventh respectively, among edge defenders. Vernon made an impact with 46 total pressures on 414 pass-rush snaps for a pressure rate of 11.1 percent.

The Giants face a tough decision with the 28-year-old Vernon. He carries a $19.5 million cap hit, 10.1 percent of an estimated $190 million salary cap for 2019. He is a good player, but that cap hit places him fourth among edge players.

The list includes:

Von Miller $25.125 million
Khalil Mack $22.3 million
Justin Houston $21.1 million
Vernon $19.5 million
Chandler Jones $19.5 million
Melvin Ingram $18.625 million
J.J. Watt $15 million

Is Vernon really in that class of player? No, he not. Can the Giants continue to pay him that way?

The Giants could save $15.5 million against the cap by making Vernon a post-June 1 cut. There are two problems with that, though.

First, how do you improve a pass rush that was mediocre in terms of pressure generated and 30th in the league in sacks by getting rid of the team’s best pass rusher?

Second, if you make Vernon a post-June 1 cut that $15.5 million savings isn’t available to be used during the first wave of free agency in March.

Maybe the Giants approach Vernon about re-structuring his contract. I’m not at all certain Vernon will be amenable to that, though.

Remember what happened with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie a year ago. The Giants wanted to keep DRC, but at a reduced rate. Rodgers-Cromartie wanted nothing to do with that, and ended up with the Oakland Raiders.

Might Vernon and the Giants be headed for a similar divorce?