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Should Jihad Ward be back with Giants in 2024?

Veteran edge defender was a Wink Martindale favorite

New England Patriots v New York Giants
Jihad Ward
Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

Jihad Ward was undeniably a favorite of former New York Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale.

“Wherever I’m at I hope I have Jihad Ward with me,” Martindale once said of the veteran edge defender.

Now that Martindale is an ex-Giant, does Ward have a future with the team?

Reasons to keep Ward

Ward had 8.0 sacks for the Giants over the past two seasons, including a career-high 5.0 in 2023. He is a strong presence in the locker room, and the 1,318 snaps he played over the past two seasons would have to be replaced.

Reasons to let him go

Twelve of the 18.0 sacks Ward has compiled in eight NFL seasons have come with Martindale as his defensive coordinator. Thus, it is fair to wonder what kind of player Ward would be in a non-Martindale coordinated scheme.

Besides, sacks aside Ward really hasn’t been that good for the Giants the past two seasons. His Pro Football Focus grades the past two seasons were 42.1 in 2022 and 42.4 in 2023. Ward missed 25% of his tackle attempts in 2023.

Considering his performance for, and allegiance to, Martindale it might also be fair to wonder if Ward wants to stay with the Giants after the messy Martindale-Brian Daboll divorce. After all, Ward was vocal during the season in his belief there were no issues between the two.

The verdict

Let him go. In my view, Ward played far too many snaps the past two seasons. The Giants need to try and do better.