The New York Giants had an odd start to their 2021 training camp. Kelvin Benjamin displayed his petulance once again by showing up to camp significantly overweight. This resulted in an early camp exit. Shortly after that incident, linebacker Todd Davis and interior offensive lineman Joe Looney both retired from football. Both players were just signed by the Giants earlier that week. Less than a week after that, IOL Zach Fulton retried.
Davis, Looney, and Fulton all indicated, in some fashion, that their bodies weren’t physically capable of going through a grueling season and that their retirement wasn’t a product of contempt for the Giants’ hard-nosed coaching style. Nevertheless, losing two interior offensive linemen during training camp isn’t great, especially after a struggling second-year guard hurt his leg early in camp.
There were understandable concerns about the Giants’ offensive line heading into camp. If Peart is the projected starter at right tackle, then the elder statesmen of the starters is a 25-year-old Will Hernandez, who is learning the right guard position. The line is young, hasn’t yet displayed consistent success (which is a product of youth), and has little proven depth behind it.
The Giants have also been dinged up at other positions through camp. The EDGE group hasn’t been fully healthy; Oshane Ximines, Lorenzo Carter, Ryan Anderson, Elerson Smith, and Raymond Johnson have all missed some time through camp. Ximines was just activated off the PUP on Aug. 9th.
Levine Toilolo was also lost for the season with a torn Achilles. Toilolo played 38 percent of special teams snaps and 27 pwercent of offensive snaps. Jason Garrett has always had an affinity for 12 and 13 personnel packages (two and three tight ends on the field). They now have Evan Engram, Kaden Smith, and Kyle Rudolph, presuming Rudolph can stay healthy after the foot injury.
The team may want to carry four tight ends, especially if they can find on who provides value on special teams. Rysen John, the 2020 undrafted Canadian player out of Simon Fraser, is a converted wide receiver playing tight end. He’s missed some time on the COVID-19 list, but his chances of possibly making the roster have increased after the injury to Toilolo.
New York also signed former Penn State and Mississippi State quarterback Tommy Stevens, who is a big-bodied 7th-round pick by the Saints in 2020. Stevens is attempting a conversion to the tight end position as well. Also on the roster is Cole Hikutini, Nakie Griffin-Stewert, and the newly signed Jake Hausmann.
Hausmann is a player that intrigues me because of his blocking prowess. If he can pick this offense up quickly, then he may have a shot to make this roster. New York also signed two wide receivers in as many weeks; Damion Willis and Matt Cole.
Saquon Barkley should be returning to the team this Monday which is a welcome sight for Giants’ nation. Hopefully, soon enough more players will return off the PUP. The only two remaining are rookie CB Aaron Robinson and TE Kyle Rudolph. But for now, let’s look at some free agents the Giants may entertain to round out their roster.
OC Austin Reiter
Big Blue kicked the tires on Reiter earlier this offseason but ultimately decided on signing Looney, who has a more extensive history with Jason Garrett. Reiter could be an excellent option for the Giants.
Reiter has 2,657 career snaps and has started for the AFC Champion Kansas City Chiefs. He was a Super-Bowl winning starting center in 2019. He’s 30 and coming off a solid season with Kansas City. He is 6-foot-3, 300 pounds, and played the majority of his NFL snaps at center. The Chiefs invested heavily into their offensive line this offseason, and that left Reiter as the man out.
In 739 snaps of pass blocking, he only allowed 11 pressures and 0 sacks. It seems like, if the Giants went in this direction, Reiter would be the starting center, which I don’t believe is the problem with this offensive line. Nick Gates exceeded my expectations inside last season.
Reiter had much better PFF grades than Gates; Reiter played three more games than Gates and allowed 5 fewer pressures. An option could be discussed that would put Reiter at center and have Gates compete with Lemieux and Hernandez. I, for one, think everything should be explored, but ultimately I’m not a huge fan of shifting Gates to guard after he played solidly at center.
OL Joe Dahl
The former fifth-round pick by the Lions has a solid skill-set that would be valued by this coach Joe Judge regime. Dahl has played in 1,315 career offensive snaps and surrendered 8 sacks and 47 pressures. He plays with grit and tenacity. He played some center in 2020 but was mostly a left guard through his career.
New York needs depth at these interior positions. They’re inexperienced. When healthy last season, they were a bottom-three offensive line in the NFL. The line could look tragic if an injury or two happens, especially if they have to sign street guys to possibly play right away. The quicker the Giants can get veteran offensive linemen into training camp to learn the system, the better.
OG Chance Warmack
Warmack is 6-2, 323 pounds. He was the 10th selection in the 2013 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans. He had a solid start to his career and was a good enough run blocker but struggled with pass protection earlier in his career. General manager Ruston Webster selected him and ended up losing his job two years later. When it was time for Warmack’s contract to be discussed, Jon Robinson was at the helm, and Warmack was not retained by the Titans. Warmack couldn’t live up to the top ten selection.
However, Warmack went to the University of Alabama from 2009-2013; Judge was at Alabama from 2009-2011. I don’t believe a 29-year-old Warmack would be an upgrade from Shane Lemieux or Will Hernandez, but there is pedigree and familiarity here with this coaching staff. At this point, the Giants need depth and players that can be adequate if something were to happen to the starters. Warmack never lived up to his draft spot, but he could be a depth piece that may interest the Giants.
LB K.J. Wright
The 32-year-old Wright was an unsung part of the Legion of Boom. He played next to one of the more talented linebackers in this generation (Bobby Wagner), but he was also an invaluable piece to that effective puzzle. Todd Davis stopped by 1925 Giants Drive for a cup of coffee, but he is no longer around.
Wright recently visited the Las Vegas Raiders and has been linked to many teams. It probably won’t be too long before he is scooped up. He’s on the back nine of his career, but he still can provide value in a linebacking corps that is thin behind Blake Martinez.
Wright is a long linebacker that can compete for a spot with young linebackers like T.J. Brunson. His leadership and championship pedigree would mesh well with a defense that has leaders like Logan Ryan setting the example. He’s coming off an 86 tackle season and has five 100 tackle seasons in the last seven years.
EDGE Kamalei Correa
The Giants EDGE group was significantly upgraded this past offseason. The team invested a second-round pick in Azeez Ojulari out of Georgia and they should be getting Carter and Ximines back healthy - the latter was just activated off the PUP and the former is at practice.
New York also signed Ryan Anderson and Ifeadi Odenigbo. Correa is 27 years old and was coming off a mini-breakout season in 2019 with the Titans where he had 23 pressures and 6 sacks. He was released by the Titans mid-season last year and ended up on the Jaguars.
He’s now a free agent who had an elite 6.78 3-Cone drill which is in the 99th percentile and would work well with the exotic three to four-man pressure packages that Patrick Graham likes to employ. His superior change of direction could entice the Giants.
He may not be able to crack the roster now that the Giants are deep at the position, but he may not be a bad option to bring into camp. He has over 1,000 special teams snaps and he’s always been a player who is uber-competitive - runs around with his hair on fire. He has the athletic ability to drop into coverage if needed, his pass rushing moves/burst are adequate, and he can provide value on more than just defense.