The first practice of New York Giants training camp is Wednesday, July 27. it’s right around the corner! Training camp is the inception of the new season where the Giants had an overhaul of coaches and players. We will finally witness seeds of offensive and defensive philosophy with the Giants’ personnel.
New general manager Joe Schoen exhausted multiple options to upgrade one of the worst offensive line units in recent Giants’ memory. Schoen added a combination of cheaper veterans, and a few draft picks, to correct the 2021 liability.
Schoen had little wiggle room with the cap. As it stands today - after every Giants draft pick has signed their contract - Big Blue has $5.428 million in cap space, per Over The Cap. Surely, the Giants will want some space during the season to accommodate unforeseen injuries or situations.
It is also possible that Schoen and the Giants will sign a few veteran free agents at the start of training camp once they gain a glimpse of their roster on the gridiron. Last year, the Giants signed offensive lineman Joe Looney, wide receiver Damion Willis, and linebacker Todd Davis a few days into camp after waiving Tyquan Mizzell, placing Rysen John on Reserve/COVID-19, and terminating the contract of Kelvin Benjamin.
The cap situation is tight, so any contracts given out now will need be minimum type of deals. When the last regime assumed their role in 2018, the Giants added three veteran free agents in the middle of July to compete for a roster spot. Here are five names that may interest the 2022 Giants heading into training camp.
Jimmy Smith, CB
The Giants’ secondary lacks proven depth and just lost its most talented asset in James Bradberry. I remain optimistic about Aaron Robinson, and Adoree’ Jackson is a solid starting cornerback, but who will start outside if one suffers an injury?
Smith is a 6-foot-2, 210-pound cornerback who has played with the Baltimore Ravens since he was selected at 27th overall in 2011. He played 293 total snaps last season with two passes defended, one penalty, and no touchdowns surrendered.
The primary issue with Smith is age. He is just about to turn 34 years old. Do the Giants have room for an older declining player on their roster - who worked with defensive coordinator Wink Martindale for years - or would they instead roll the dice on a young player? They could sign him cheap, see how he assimilates, and make that decision at cut-downs.
Last season, Martindale praised Smith after he returned from missing the first two games with an ankle injury. Smith only played 30 percent of the defensive snaps but was in charge of covering tight end TJ Hockenson. Smith held him to two catches for 10 yards. If Smith is willing to sign a veteran minimum contract, kicking the tires on him does not seem unwise.
Alexander Johnson, LB
The 2018 UDFA out of Tennessee impressed immediately after he signed with the Denver Broncos. Johnson went undrafted in 2018 after he was accused of a crime, but he was acquitted and made the Broncos’ final 53-man roster. He eventually landed on the practice squad and assumed the starting role in Week 5 of the 2019 season.
According to Pro Football Focus, Johnson ranked in the top 10 twice in overall defense at linebacker while finishing second in limited snaps as a tackler in 2021. Johnson tore his pectoral muscle in week six last season; the Broncos’ rush defense suffered mightily.
Denver let head coach Vic Fangio and his staff go, and the 30-year-old linebacker remains unsigned. The Giants lack reliable linebacker depth. Johnson would probably command more money than the Giants have to spare. However, if he could sign on for a discount, he would make sense for the Giants.
Linval Joseph, DL
I want to put Sheldon Richardson in this spot, but his price tag would be too hefty. The former Giant left the Big Apple for Minnesota after a solid 2013 season. Andre Patterson accepted the defensive line coaching job for the Vikings in Joseph’s first season in Minnesota.
Joseph made two Pro Bowls playing under the tutelage of Patterson, but the Vikings were forced to release Joseph for salary-related reasons. Joseph played the last two seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers.
In two seasons, Joseph earned 42 pressures and a sack with the Chargers while playing solid overall run defense at the nose technique and one-shade position. Joseph is now 33 years old, coming off a two-year, $17 million contract with the Chargers. Joseph has made plenty of money in his career.
Joseph could still be out of the Giants’ price range. Still, it would be great to see him return to the team that made him a second-round pick, with a coach that maximized his skill-set.
Dylan Moses, LB
Moses was a consensus five-star recruit out of the esteemed IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida - the same school attended by Evan Neal. Like Neal, Moses went to Alabama and was a two-time national champion, first-team All-SEC (2020), and second-team All-American (2018).
Moses was a finalist for the Butkus Award in 2018 but lost to LSU’s Devin White (now of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers). Just before the 2019 season, Moses suffered a bad knee injury and missed the entire year. He was a step slower in 2020 but decided to forgo his senior season and enter the draft.
He went undrafted in 2021 and signed with the Jaguars, who recently released him; he never played a down in Duvall. Jacksonville drafted Devin Lloyd and Chad Muma after awarding Foyesade Oluokun (formerly of the Falcons) a big contract in free agency.
Moses is just 24 years old at 6-1, 240 pounds. The Giants still have questionable depth at linebacker. There is no harm in allowing Moses - a former team captain of the most prestigious college program - to compete in training camp. He may not make the team, but at least the Giants are now familiar with his skill-set, and if they suffer injuries throughout the season, they can add him, and the transition would be easier.
Hunter Bryant, TE
Bryant was a productive college tight end at the University of Washington, and many draft pundits were excited about his chances as an NFL prospect entering the 2020 Draft. He was injured during his sophomore season before returning to the Huskies for his junior 2019 campaign.
He recorded 52 catches for 825 yards and three touchdowns, earning First Team All Pac-12 honors. However, he did not test well at the NFL Combine, and he was a lot shorter than many imagined, at only 6-2. Bryant went undrafted and was signed by the Lions because of this reality.
He only had one catch for 44 yards in his career and spent much of it battling injuries. He failed his physical designation in 2021 and was waived by the Lions in 2022. The former four-star recruit is only 23 years old and should command nothing more than a minimum contact.