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NFL free agency: OLB Haason Reddick edge rusher the Giants need?

Should Reddick be a priority, or should the Giants be wary after his breakout 2020 season?

Arizona Cardinals v New York Giants
Haason Reddick sacks Colt McCoy.
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Haason Reddick is a Temple grad and a Camden, NJ native. For years, I have listened to Giants media members and fans speculate that the edge-needy New York Giants should try to bring Reddick, a tantalizing talent who underperformed prior to the 2020 season, home to New Jersey.

Well, this offseason the Giants might get that chance.

Coming off a breakout 12.5-sack season with the Arizona Cardinals that included a dominant 5-sack game against the Giants, it looks like Reddick is headed to free agency. Let’s examine whether or not Reddick is a player the Giants should pursue if he reaches the open market.

The basics

Age: 27 during 2021 season
Height: 6-foot-1 | Weight: 235
Position: Edge
Experience: 4 seasons
2020 stats: 16 games | Sacks: 12.5 | QB hits: 16 | Forced Fumbles: 6 | Tackles 63

The skinny

Let’s start with three questions about Reddick with Seth Cox of SB Nation’s Cardinals website, Revenge of the Birds.

Ed: What is the likelihood he reaches the open market?

Seth: At the moment you’d expect the Cardinals to make a hard push to make sure he does not see free agency, but they have a couple of issues. First they don’t have a ton of money, so they can’t afford to franchise tag him unless there is another couple of moves coming. That is likely, but it’s the first hurdle.

The second hurdle is do they franchise Reddick or Patrick Peterson? While Reddick is younger and coming off a better season, the Cards still have Chandler Jones and Devon Kennard under contract. Their corners under contract are Byron Murphy Jr. and Robert Alford who hasn’t played a snap in his two seasons with the Cardinals.

[NOTE: Since I received these responses from Seth, there have been reports the Cardinals will move on from Peterson.]

So, they have some things to workout to make sure he doesn’t get to free agency, but it’s not a slam dunk they retain him.

Ed: If he does, how good of a player would a team like the Giants be getting?

Seth: It’s odd to say, but you’re getting a player who is really still growing into the position, something we’ll discuss a bit more below. Right now he wins a lot with speed and athleticism. He is one of those players though that is easy to root for, as he works incredibly hard all the time. He’s gotten better as a player in coverage and is still a little lean against the run at times, but he can rush the passer and that’s always worth something in the NFL.

Ed: Was 2020 an aberration for him, or will whoever gets him really be getting an impact EDGE player?

Seth: It was an aberration simply for the fact that it was really the first time he was deployed for a season at edge rusher.

He played there a bit as a rookie, but he was getting most of his snaps at inside linebacker during that offseason. Then the next two years it was all about fitting that round peg in the square hole.

Now, they let him workout all offseason as an edge, then used him that way.

Not to say he will be a 12+ sack a year player, but he has the goods and the room to grow to be a consistent 8+ sack a year guy the next contract he gets (imagining he gets a 4-5 year deal).

Valentine’s View

The thing that piqued my curiosity about Cox’s remarks was his assertion that until 2020 the Cardinals had not used Reddick as an edge defender regularly during his first three seasons. Not having studied the Cardinals intently over the years I found that hard to fathom. It is, though, absolutely true. Thanks to Pro Football Focus, we can chart the positions Reddick has played by season. I’m not going to give you the detail of every snap, but just an overview of how many times he lined up as some form of “edge” defender.

  • 2020 (874 total snaps) — 787 on the edge (90.04 percent)
  • 2019 (690 snaps) — 137 on the edge (19.9 percent)
  • 2018 (846 snaps) — 127 on the edge (15.01 percent)
  • 2017 (444 snaps) — 253 on the edge (56.9 percent)

I don’t understand the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Coming out of Temple it was Reddick’s speed, explosiveness and edge-rushing potential that made him the 13th overall pick in the draft. Why wasn’t he used that way?

Anyway, that perhaps explains some of the lack of production (only 7.5 sacks and 16 quarterback hits) over his first three seasons.

Given the opportunity to play full-time on the edge for the first time in his career in 2020, Reddick showed everyone why he was selected in the top half of Round 1 in the 2017 NFL Draft.

To go with his 12.5 sacks, he had 16 quarterback hits — doubling his career total. He had 35 hurries, after generating just 38 over his first three seasons. Reddick also forced 6 fumbles. Among qualifying pass rushers who rushed 278 or more times, Reddick’s PFF pass-rush productivity score of 8.9 was fifth in the NFL.

Spotrac’s Market Value Tool estimates Reddick to be worth a four-year, $46.679 million deal ($11.669 million annually). That’s barely top 30 in terms of annual average value for edge rushers.

Now, it’s dangerous to pay a player if you’re looking at the fact that his the best game of his career came against your team. Reddick’s five-sack effort against the Giants last season was just that for him. As much as he gets “Kudos” for that, the Giants are just as deserving of a “Wet Willie.” That was the “a statue of Daniel Jones impersonated a quarterback” game, when he was a sitting duck and — in my view — absolutely should not have been playing.

Still, Reddick’s 2020 shows a rising player entering his prime who was finally used the correct way. The way, in fact, that the Giants would use him if they signed him. I would absolutely pay $11 million and change for that. It might end up being a bargain.

Would you?