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Giants’ free agency: Should DT A’Shawn Robinson return?

Robinson had a nice season, but is he in the way of young players the team would like to give increased roles?

Los Angeles Rams v New York Giants
A’Shawn Robinson
Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

For any NFL team, free agency starts with assessing which of its own free agents to try and keep and which to let reach the open market. Let’s begin looking at the 25 New York Giants unrestricted free agents who can hit the open market this offseason and try to decided which ones the team should try to keep.

We begin with defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson.

Reasons to keep Robinson

Robinson was signed to a one-year, $5 million contract that included a $2.1 million 2024 void year to upgrade the veteran depth and run defense along the defensive line.

As a team, the Giants were not completely successful in getting better against the run in 2023. In 2022, the Giants were 31st in the league, giving up 5.3 yards per rushing attempt. In 2023, the yards per rushing attempt allowed figure improved to 4.7 yards, but they were still 31st in the NFL.

Robinson, though, did a reasonably good job for the Giants. With the midseason trade of Leonard Williams and the late-season hamstring injury to Dexter Lawrence, Robinson played more than he might have expected to. He played in all 17 games, with 13 starts. He played 515 defensive snaps (45.6%).

Robinson finished with 62 tackles, the second-most of his career. His 34 solo tackles tied his career-best. He also tied his career-high with six tackles for loss. Per Pro Football Focus, his 36 stops was also the second-highest total of his career.

Over the Giants’ last 11 games, Robinson played more than 40% of the team’s defensive snaps nine times.

Robinson will be 29 next season and should be able to play at a relatively high level for a while. The Giants need to continue to build along both lines, and shouldn’t be in the business of letting good players get away if they can help it. Robinson is a good player who can fill a useful role.

Reasons to let him go

First, the Giants have two young draft picks — D.J. Davidson and Jordon Riley — who should be in line for more playing time. They also have veteran defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches under contract next season, although Nunez-Roches has no guaranteed money left on his deal. Still, taking a $2.866 million cap hit to cut ‘Nacho’ while saving just $1.466 against the cap doesn’t seem like a good business decision.

So, is Robinson necessary? Especially at a cost of $5 million or more. Would the Giants be better off to ride with the rest of what they have, add a defensive tackle in the draft and perhaps try to supplement the depth with a less-costly veteran player?

The decision

The Giants can’t be in the business of hemorrhaging useful players who are affordable. If Robinson will accept another one-year deal with money similar to or only slightly above what he made in 2023, the Giants should try to keep him. If he is looking for multiple seasons, or a deal worth $8 million or so, let him see if he can go find it on the open market.