Super Bowl 55 is now history, and we have fully descended into the darkness of another NFL offseason. Or, maybe that is just Tom Brady continuing to block out the sun for the rest of the league.
Anyway, even though we have been discussing the offseason to-do list of the New York Giants for several weeks, this seems like a good time to take stock of the items that need to be offseason priorities for the Giants.
Dealing with their own free agents
We have spent a ton of time already discussing the expensive and important decisions the Giants have to make on defensive linemen Leonard Williams and Dalvin Tomlinson. The Giants’ list of unrestricted free agents also includes edge Kyler Fackrell, running back Wayne Gallman, offensive tackle Cameron Fleming, backup quarterback Colt McCoy, and Judge favorites Nate Ebner and Dion Lewis.
How many will be back?
On top of that, how many players like Golden Tate, Kevin Zeitler, David Mayo and Cody Core are going to have to be sacrificed at the salary cap altar?
Adding playmakers on offense
Yes, Daniel Jones needs to continue to improve. Yes, Jason Garrett needs to make some schematic changes. The quarterback and offensive coordinator, though, need more play-makers to work with.
The return to health of Saquon Barkley should help. It would be nice if they could keep Gallman, too. If they keep Evan Engram, it will help if he remembers his job is to catch the ball, not bat it to the other team like a volleyball.
Still, like Agent Smith in The Matrix, the Giants need MORE. More players who can stretch the field vertically, create some yards after catch, and win some contested catches.
Offensive line decisions
That starts with finding a position coach. Dave DeGuglielmo and the Giants apparently could not reach contract terms, so the Giants are in the market for the third offensive line coach of the Joe Judge era. For the sake of the Giants’ young offensive line, let’s hope this one lasts a while.
[UPDATE 10:47 a.m. ET: Looks like that part of the equation has been taken care of:]
The #Giants are hiring UL Ragin' Cajuns offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Rob Sale as their new OL coach, source said. A key position.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 8, 2021
As for the position itself, as much optimism as there is about some of the young talent the Giants have assembled they still have decisions to make at three of the five spots. The center and left tackle spots seem settled with Nick Gates and Andrew Thomas, respectively. The other three spots? Not so much?
Do the Giants trust Matt Peart enough to plant him at right tackle? If not, is Cam Fleming worth keeping around? Will Nate Solder retire? If not, does he fit into the picture at all or is he just a guy who can be dumped for salary cap relief?
Can the Giants afford to keep right guard Kevin Zeitler? Do they believe in Will Hernandez? Is Shane Lemieux a long-term starter, or is his porous pass protection always going to be an issue. If they have to, can either Lemieux or Hernandez play right guard?
Filling defensive deficiencies
Patrick Graham was wonderful in his first season as Giants’ defensive coordinator, a maestro directing his orchestra to play at peak performance. That earned him a contract extension from the Giants, and if he keeps it up it is going to earn him opportunities to interview for head-coaching jobs.
Still, there are deficiencies on the defensive side that need to be addressed to truly make the Giants an upper echelon defense. All you had to do was watch what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did to the high-powered Kansas City Chiefs’ offense in the Super Bowl to see the pieces the Giants don’t have.
The Bucs destroyed Kansas City’s offense mostly because their poor backup offensive tackles had no chances against Tampa Bay edge rushers Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul. The Giants schemed some pressure last season and got a career year from Williams, but they do not have the dominant edge players the Bucs have. As much as I respect Blake Martinez, they also do not feature a destroyer at inside linebacker like Devin White.
We also know the Giants would benefit from an upgrade at cornerback opposite James Bradberry to allow Graham to call aggressive man-coverage schemes more often.