The New York Giants have holes throughout their roster. For the first time as general manager, Joe Schoen may have some freedom to spend money in free agency. After the Daniel Jones deal, in which the quarterback will only count for $19 million against the 2023 cap, the Giants have $18.4 million in cap space.
However, there are moves the Giants can make ahead of the new league year on March 15th that can alleviate the tight constraints bound to the Big Blue. Saquon Barkley is about to play for $10 million on the franchise tag in 2023; that’s $3 million than last season. An extension could bring the 2023 cap hit down.
GM Joe Schoen has mentioned extending Dexter Lawrence, who will make $12.4 million on his fifth-year option. Fellow defensive lineman Leonard Williams will make $32 million this season; one can imagine that number will be renegotiated. All these moves may not materialize, but there’s a possibility.
NFL Network insider Mike Garafolo joined the All In with Art Stapleton podcast on Thursday morning. Stapleton asked Garafolo about the Giants’ possible free agent plans. Garafolo said the Giants are looking for edge help and that former Saints 2018 first-round pick Marcus Davenport was a name to monitor.
Let’s explore Davenport as a fit for the New York Giants.
Age: 27 in the 2023 season
Height: 6-foot-6 | Weight: 265
Experience: 5 seasons
2022 stats: 15 games | Tackles: (29) | Tackles for a loss: (2) | Stops: (11) | Pressures: (34) | Hurries: (26) | Sacks: (0.5) Missed tackles (4, 11.4 percent)
The New Orleans Saints traded three draft picks to the Green Bay Packers to move from pick 27 to pick 14 for the right to select UTSA edge defender Marcus Davenport. The raw, super, athletic pass-rusher had a fantastic Senior Bowl week, and his steady drumbeat would have made a 22-year-old Nick Cannon blush.
I remember when the trade happened. I thought Sean Payton was trading for Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson to replace Drew Brees eventually. That was not the case.
The size and speed of Davenport were too enticing, and the former Road Runner gave the Saints five solid seasons. Davenport never had less than 30 pressures in a season, and he’s coming off his worst season as a professional.
Davenport only recorded half a sack in 2022. It reminds me of Leonard Williams’ 2019 season, where he finished with a half-sack but pressured the quarterback and disrupted the offense. Williams had 28 hurries in 2019, and Davenport had 26 in 2022.
Davenport finished his five years in New Orleans with 21.5 sacks, 194 pressures (1,517 pass rush reps), and 142 tackles, with 25 tackles for a loss and 87 stops. He primarily played edge in a 3-4 base defense on the opposite side of Cameron Jordan, but would kick inside in certain passing situations.
Unsurprisingly, the Giants are interested in a young pass rusher with his type of build and athletic upside. Schoen was a part of the Bills’ front office wthat continuously added long defensive line depth to their front. Bills general manager Brandon Beane selected Ed Oliver, A.J. Epenesa, Gregory Rousseau, and Carlos “Boogie” Basham between 2019-2021 - all were selected in the first two rounds.
The Giants’ edge position is an unmentioned critical need this offseason. The Giants spent first- and second-round picks over the last two drafts on the position, but the need persists. Azeez Ojulari’s 2022 season was plagued by injury, leaving rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux as the primary edge defender.
Oshane Ximines and Jihad Ward are entering free agency, and they played a collective 1,269 snaps for the Giants in 2022. Tomon Fox and Elerson Smith are the other two names on the roster, and the latter has played on 121 defensive snaps through two seasons. Smith, like Ojulari, has struggled to stay healthy.
Adding Davenport would improve the role managed by Jihad Ward last season. Ward is a heavier player, but that’s what I believe the implementation would be for Davenport if the Giants pursue him. Davenport would instantly improve the run defense - he’s been one of the more reliable run-defending EDGEs in the NFL since he entered the league - and would offer upside as a pass rusher.
He is a good starting 4i-WIDE 9T, depending on the front and defensive personnel employed by the Giants, who can kick inside (3-1T) in passing situations. His quick upfield burst off the line of scrimmage, and his active - precise - hands would certainly help when the Giants opt to penetrate gaps. Wink Martindale would find ways to creatively isolate him in one-on-one situations and rely on his length/agility to slant inside to occupy blockers and create free rushers.
Davenport sets a good - firm - edge and has the agility and quickness to evade blocks as a playside run defender. He wins with speed high-side as a pass-rusher; he possesses a good first three steps with solid ankle flexion and a good array of pass-rushing moves up the arc. With good hand positioning and pop, he generates satisfactory push through his hips to stress the POA and push the pocket as a pass-rusher.
Adding Davenport, along with Thibodeaux and Ojulari already on the roster, to a front consisting of Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence seems to fix pressing issues upfront. However, is it the Giants’ best and most sensible move?
According to Spotrac.com, Davenport’s market value is four years, $93 million, which puts his average annual value at $23.2 million. That’s a lot of money for a player who had half a sack last season.
Furthermore, he’s had a variety of injuries since entering the NFL. He dealt with a right shoulder strain that forced him to miss seven games in 2021. He missed several weeks in 2020 with a few different ailments, and he was placed on injured reserve after Week 14 in 2019 with a pedal Lisfranc fracture.
Davenport has never played less than 400 snaps in a season, but he’s also never played more than 533. Davenport is a good football player who would significantly improve the Giants’ ability to stop the run and get after the quarterback. Like most things around this time of year, it would come down to the economics of the contract. Let us know what you think in the comments!