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ESPN names Giants ideal landing spot for veteran edge rusher

The Giants did not bring in any new faces of note on the edge this offseason

Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens
Justin Houston
Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

The New York Giants brought in two veteran players to fill gaps in their defensive line this offseason in Rakeem Nunez-Roches and A’Shawn Robinson. However, they conspicuously did not add depth to their edge rusher room, re-signing Oshane Ximines for depth but otherwise returning the same main cast as last season. Therefore, it is unsurprising that ESPN listed the Giants as an ideal landing spot for aging edge rusher Justin Houston, who played with the Baltimore Ravens for the last two seasons.

While writer Matt Bowen notes that Houston has several team fits, he makes this projection based on Houston’s familiarity with Wink Martindale from their time together in Baltimore. Despite Houston’s age (34), he has still been a productive player in recent seasons, racking up 14 sacks over the last two years, including 9.5 last season. His 13.7% pressure rate in 2022 was well above the 11.2% average for edge rushers. He profiled in a pass-rush specialist role, playing 285 snaps in that position vs. only 89 against the run and 23 in coverage.

The Giants could use some pass-rushing thump behind Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari. Jihad Ward has never exceeded three sacks in a season and has a below-average career pressure rate (7.5%; it was 6.6% in 2022). Neither Tomon Fox nor Elerson Smith has done much as a pass rusher in their brief NFL careers thus far.

In Martindale’s attacking defense, a player like the 34-year-old Houston could have a large impact. The Giants led the NFL with a 42% blitz rate last season, which, Bowen points out, should create more one-on-one matchups for Houston due to messing with protections.

One big question about a pickup like Houston, though, will be the money. Coming off a 9.5-sack season, he may want more money than the Giants have to pay him. He made $3.5 million with the Ravens last season, but that was coming off a four-sack year. GM Joe Schoen may be able to afford a similar deal, but he’s not going to give much more than that to an older specialist. Per Over the Cap, the Giants currently have just $3.8 million in both total and effective cap space.

Of course, signing Saquon Barkley to an extension could give the Giants more cap flexibility. However, the deadline for that is July 17, and it seems unlikely that a deal will come together until closer to that date, if at all. The team can also make smaller moves like releasing Darnay Holmes to free up over $2.7 million, but that is more a final cuts move if the Giants like one or more of their other corners.

Overall, Houston to the Giants is an interesting proposition and definitely one that Schoen should do his due diligence about.