While they're not in the same division or even the same conference, the Giants and the Patriots have a long, painful rivalry. However, they haven't met much in the playoffs recently because of the Giants' mediocre play. This year, owner John Mara broke out his checkbook to try and change that with a spree of big free-agent deals. But will it work? Only time will tell. For right now, let's break down their offseason additions and see where they stand!
The G-Men opened free agency with a bang, inking former Ram Janoris Jenkins to a 5-year, $62.5 million deal. While he impressed last year, grabbing 16 passes defensed, three interceptions, and a forced fumble, he's known for his tendency to gamble in man coverage--throughout his four-year career, he's given up 22 TDs and 39 plays of 20 or more yards. Considering Jenkins' history and boom-or-bust mentality, this signing is a massive gamble, though not necessarily a good one. While he was among the best in a solid but not outstanding free agent class, by the looks of it the Giants overpaid. He'll make some flashy plays, to be sure, but in the meantime he won't be the lockdown #1 corner New York is looking for.
Right on the heels of the Jenkins signing, the Giants grabbed another young, intriguing defender-- Olivier Vernon, formerly of Miami. Also like Jenkins, they paid a fortune to shore up a shaky area, but unlike the cornerback, Vernon is supposed to boost a mediocre pass rush. Here's the thing: while the athletic end has racked up 29 sacks in four seasons, he's only cracked double digits once (in 2013) and is coming off a 7.5 sack season. In fairness, he did record a career high 11 stuffs last year, but for $85 million, it will be very tough for him to live up to expectations. Realistically, he's an 8-10 sack player with average edge-setting ability, but you can bet that the New York faithful will expect much more than that. While he was definitely a nice piece to add, the Giants backed up the entire Brinks fleet for him. For that money, you should be getting a top-5 pass-rusher. Vernon simply isn't.
Even after the Vernon signing, though, the Giants weren't done. To strengthen their new-look D-line, they picked up massive DT Damon Harrison from the Jets, for an equally massive price of $46 million. While he's exceptional at stuffing the run, his 350-pound frame does him no favors when rushing the opposing QB, and conditioning issues have creeped in throughout his career. This is a safer signing than the previous two, but once again, not a very smart one. Big Blue knew exactly what it was going to get--a two-gap run-stuffer with little pass-rushing ability. A need? Yes. A $46 million need, in a time when 320+ pound DTs are commonplace? Certainly not.
After spending big in the first few days to address their biggest needs, New York stayed relatively quiet. Outside of re-signing some restricted free agents (most notably tight end Larry Donell), GM Jerry Reese decided to stand pat. Overall, the Giants looked at a major problem (their defense) and decided to throw money at the problem to try and solve it. While it could work, it could also backfire. All three of their major signings are young, healthy, and full of potential. But on the other hand, none of them have proven themselves as elite, yet the Giants gave them elite money. Unless they all step up, Mara will have wasted a lot of hard-earned dollars. For now, we'll just have to wait and see.
Photos courtesy Giants.com
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