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Under-the-radar roster additions have been key to Giants’ success

The Giants are getting more from in-season signings than any team in the league

New York Giants v Jacksonville Jaguars
Jaylon Smith
Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images

The New York Giants did not make a flashy NFL trade deadline move to acquire much-needed wide receiver help, with GM Joe Schoen preferring to horde his assets for potential future wheeling and dealing. The Giants did make what they hope will be an incremental wide receiver upgrade, claiming Isaiah Hodgins via waivers from the Buffalo Bills.

That typifies how the Giants have worked the roster since Schoen became general manager in January. They have operated on what might be referred to as a shoestring budget, searching for low-cost, under-the-radar veteran players who could help get them through 2022 while neither hamstringing their budget short-term nor compromising their desire to hang on to assets they want to use for the long term.

That approach was evident all offseason as the Giants constructed their 90-man roster. The Giants have continued casting lines about the free agent seas ever since setting their initial 53-man roster at the end of August, and many of the players they have caught have been contributors to their success so far this season.

Let’s go through some of the players the Giants have added.

Tanner Hudson, a journeyman tight end, was signed as a free agent on Aug. 25. He has played in all eight games, getting double-digit snaps in all but one of them, as the Giants have made heavy use of multiple tight end packages.

Cornerbacks Nick McCloud and Justin Layne, safety Jason Pinnock and offensive lineman Jack Anderson were claimed off waivers on Aug. 31. McCloud, Layne, and Pinnock have all been key special teams players, and McCloud is playing an increasingly big role in the secondary as defensive coordinator Wink Martindale mixes and matches personnel groupings.

Veteran safety Tony Jefferson was signed to the practice squad Sept. 1. He played in three games as a third safety before going on IR with a foot injury. His place has been taken by Landon Collins (signed Oct. 7), who has been elevated for two games and seems likely to be on the 53-man roster eventually.

Tyre Phillips, now starting at right tackle as Evan Neal rehabs his sprained MCL, was a Sept. 1 waiver claim from the Baltimore Ravens.

Fabian Moreau, now starting and playing well at cornerback, was signed to the practice squad as a free agent on Sept. 5.

Wide receiver Marcus Johnson, now on the 53-man roster as a starting wide receiver, was signed to the practice squad as a free agent on Sept. 6.

Jaylon Smith, now the best inside linebacker the Giants have, was signed to the practice squad on Sept. 20 and added to the roster less than two weeks later.

Tight end Lawrence Cager was added to the practice squad on Oct. 18 and is now helping to fill in for the injured Daniel Bellinger.

Point is, the front office deserves credit for supplementing — and in many cases, upgrading — the roster while handicapped with serious financial restrictions.

Schoen brought people like assistant general manager Brandon Brown, director of pro scouting Chris Rossetti and assistant director of player personnel Dennis Hickey to the organization.

Brown was director of player personnel for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2021, and is highly-regarded for his work prior to that running the Eagles’ pro personnel department. Rossetti worked in pro personnel for the Miami Dolphins from 2015 until being hired by the Giants, ascending to the role of assistant director of pro scouting in 2021. Hickey is former GM of the Miami Dolphins (2014-15) and has worked on both the pro and college scouting sides.

Schoen said the team’s data shows the Giants have gotten more from players signed after Sept. 1 than any team in the league.

“We lead the league with 12 players that were not here (before) September that have played offensive and defensive snaps for us. Whether that’s Jaylon Smith, Moreau, Tyre Phillips started at right tackle. A testament to our coaching staff; we’re bringing in new players and they got to stay here late hours and get these guys ready to play. A lot of these guys have played winning football for us.

“Again, the pro scouting staff has done a great job as well identifying these players, upgrading the practice squad and those players have filled in admirably and helped us get to where we are. The coaching staff has done a great job with what we’ve been trying to bring in to backfill some of the roster.”

So, maybe you are still upset that the Giants did not swing a big move at the trade deadline. Remember, though, just how much all of these small, sometimes unappreciated, moves have helped the Giants get to 6-2.