The New York Giants had an unusual tightend situation in 2022. The departure of Evan Engram left a void that was, in part, replaced by rookie tight end Daniel Bellinger, who exceeded expectations for a fourth-round pick.
Veteran additions made prior to training camp had no impact on the Giants’ roster through the season. Ricky Seals-Jones and Jordan Akins were two projected starters heading into training camp. The former signed a one-year, $1.2 million contract before landing on IR prior to Week 1; the latter did not make the team.
Chris Myarick was the only returning tight end from the 2021 season, as new positional coach Andy Bischoff replaced Derek Dooley. Myarick played a solid role for the Giants in 12 and 13 personnel.
New York cycled through several other tight ends during the season. Tanner Hudson was a long receiving threat with limited athletic upside; he caught 10 of 15 targets for 132 yards but was waived for Nick Vannett who is thirty pounds heavier and a better blocker. Former wide receiver Lawrence Cager joined the team after Daniel Bellinger’s injury and earned snaps in both playoff games.
Vannett and Cager could possibly have a role with the Giants in 2023, but Bellinger is the only player guaranteed a role. Cager’s profile and experience as a wide receiver make him more particular as a prospect, but upgrading the Giants’ 12 personnel package with a better blocker than Vannett can assist the Giants' ability to run the football against heavier defensive personnel.
Age: 31 in the 2023 season
Height: 6-foot-6 | Weight: 255 lbs.
Position: Tight End
Experience: 7 seasons
2022 stats: 19 games | Targets: (8) | Receptions: (6) | Yards: (42) | Yards per Catch (7.0) | Touchdowns: (0) | Catch Percentage: (75 percent)
One of the Giants' many focuses during the offseason should be upgrading their blocking in multiple tight-end personnel. Daniel Bellinger was exceptional at blocking as a rookie but Big Blue could upgrade their second blocker to improve their rushing attack in 12 personnel.
Myarick and Vannett were functional, but adding a player like Chris Manhertz would significantly upgrade the blocking at the tight end position:
What a great development in blocking by the Jaguars offensive line.— Laurie Fitzpatrick (@LaurieFitzptrck) October 19, 2021
Luke Farrell on the pull to pick up the LB, LT Cam Robinson giving JRob the lane turning his back & even better pickup by TE Chris Manhertz on the backside backer! pic.twitter.com/La2z58L1SD
Hasty for 61 yards!! Touchdown Jaguars pic.twitter.com/7JwduIE3QP— Laurie Fitzpatrick (@LaurieFitzptrck) October 16, 2022
Chris Manhertz playing grown man ball on TNF!! Pancake Block pic.twitter.com/9iOWqRe7UW— DHo27 (@DustinHolden) December 23, 2022
Manhertz has excellent size and strength for the position. Despite his height, he maintains good leverage and churns through his opponents with good lower-leg drive. According to Pro Football Focus, of tight ends that played at least 20 percent of their team’s snaps, Manhertz ranked fifth in pass blocking and 19th in run blocking.
He’s quick enough to get up to the second level and cut the linebackers' angles off, as he did against Jaylon Smith on the backside of Travis Etienne’s run in Week 7. Here we see him help pave a path for Etienne’s 27-yard rush against the Houston Texans in Week 17:
Two reasons why I like the idea of signing Manhertz. Firstly, the upgrade as a blocker (duh); secondly, he’s not going to cost a lot. Mercedes Lewis was the premier blocking tight end in the NFL with a small role as a receiver. He recently played on a two-year, $8 million deal - I don’t see Manhertz receiving that much money, but it may not be far off.
Manhertz won’t be a threat as a receiver, and he had one of the most drastic run/pass tells of any tight end in the league. That is an implementation issue, but it also elucidates his lack of receiving upside. Manhertz has never had double-digit targets in a season.
He has caught 24 of 36 passes for 255 yards and two touchdowns throughout his career. Receiving is not his forte, and that’s one reason to pull back on the allure that Manhertz does offer as a blocker.
Spotrac.com does not have a market value on Manhertz, but his previous deal was two-year $6.25 million, and that may likely be his number during this free agent cycle. For reference, Kyle Rudolph’s contract with the Giants was two years, $12 million. Blocking effectiveness isn’t as quantifiable as receiving stats, but it’s still very important.
If the Giants want to upgrade their rushing ability in multi-tight-end personnel packages - something I believe is necessary after the late-season struggles with running the football in 12 & 13 personnel - then adding a player like Manhertz is a wise move at the right price.