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Cover 4

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Cover 4: Reaction to first wave of free agency


The crew reacts to the team's moves in the first wave of the new league year:

John Schmeelk: In the very few breaks I had this weekend between chasing around my 5-year-old and surprisingly mobile 10-month-old, I tried to see the forest from the trees on the free agent moves the Giants have made so far this offseason.

The Giants seemed to have two major goals in the past week: get faster on offense and better against the run defensively.

Here are the 40-yard dash times of the skill position players the Giants have added or returned on offense this offseason:

Parris Campbell: 4.31 (Combine)

Jeff Smith: 4.36 (Pro Day)

Darius Slayton: 4.39 (Combine)

Matt Breida: 4.38 (Pro Day)

The Giants finished with 16 pass plays of 25+ yards last season, tied for the fewest in the NFL with the Los Angeles Rams. If the Giants want to score more points, they need to make more explosive plays through the air, and it is obvious they did what they could to add players that can help them do that.

On defense, only the Chargers allowed more rushing yards per play than the Giants did last season (5.23). BoBBy Okereke is more than a run-stopper, but his speed and length will help fill some of those holes on the second level of the defense.

Rakeem Nunez-Roches is a body up front that should supply defensive line depth when Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams are not on the field. He is stout up front and will make it much tougher on opponents running the football. Along with Okereke, he should make the Giants much more consistent stopping the run.

Speed? Check.

Run defense? Check.

The Giants should be better in both categories with the players they have added in free agency.

Dan Salomone: Two words stuck out in Joe Schoen's season-ending press conference: talent gap. Despite the successful start to the new era, the general manager knew the Giants still needed to close it, especially in the NFC East. The most sustainable way to do so is through the draft, but shrewd moves in free agency can go a long way. The latter is also a two-way street. It wasn't just fans who noticed what they're building at 1925 Giants Drive. The 2022 season was a big billboard for veterans on the move.

Just ask new wide receiver Parris Campbell and linebacker Bobby Okereke, who watched the Giants clinch their first playoff berth since 2016 on the opposing Colts sideline.

"Speaking specifically on that day, I was on the sideline just watching Daniel [Jones] run up and down the sideline going crazy," Campbell recalled. "I forgot how many yards he rushed for, but every time I looked up at the screen, he was running for like 20 yards. Just really watching the offense, you can tell that they were just having fun. The chemistry that they showed out there on the field, getting guys in the right position to make plays. They had guys making plays all over the field. It looked fun and it looked fluid. Now being in this seat after having seen that from afar, I'm just super excited for what's to come."

"There were a couple of teams that were interested throughout the whole process," Okereke said. "And I told my agent from day one, 'I want to play in New York City.' New York City's been one of my favorite cities, growing up, my whole life. And this franchise is on the rise."

View photos of every move made by the Giants during the 2023 cycle.

Lance Medow: The Giants were active in the first wave of free agency, and the volume of moves addressed various areas across the board. The most notable facet is the run defense. Last season, New York ranked 27th in the NFL by allowing 144 rushing yards per game. In order to improve that number, Joe Schoen and company signed former Colts linebacker Bobby Okereke, who finished in the top two in tackles in Indianapolis for each of the last two seasons. On top of that, his athleticism allows him to consistently stay on the field for all three downs as he logged at least 77 percent of his team's defensive snaps in each of the last three campaigns. Defensive lineman Rakeem Nunez-Roches was also added to plug the holes on the ground as he's made a name for himself as a key rotational player in Tampa Bay over the last five years. Add in the re-signing of Jarrad Davis, who showed some nice flashes when he joined the Giants in late December last year, and Wink Martindale now has several options to toy with in the front seven of his unit.

The other goal was clearly to beef up the talent pool around Daniel Jones after they invested in their quarterback for the next four years. In order to accomplish that feat, the Giants made two low-risk, high-reward transactions. First, they acquired tight end Darren Waller from the Raiders for a third-round pick. I'm a big believer in turning the unknown (draft picks) into known commodities (proven vets), and this trade fits that bill. When healthy, Waller has proven he's a dangerous weapon that can stretch the field as he has a wide receiver skillset in a tight end's body. While you may select a player with upside and potential in round three, you're not getting someone with the immediate production of Waller, who has posted a pair of 1,000-yard seasons in 2019 and 2020. In addition to adding a playmaking tight end, they also signed former Colts wide receiver Parris Campbell, who is coming off his best season as a pro after suiting up for all 17 games in 2022 following a stretch where he had to deal with a few freak injuries. Campbell turns 26 in July and has the speed to provide a different element for the offense. It's not just about surrounding Jones with more weapons but also producing explosive plays. Waller and Campbell can both help with the latter.

Matt Citak: Through one week of free agency, Schoen boosted the team's pass-catchers.

On the first day of the new league year, the team announced that veteran Sterling Shepard would be returning for his eighth season with the organization. The longest-tenured Giant is coming off a torn ACL, but with the injury having occurred in Week 3, Shepard should have plenty of time to get ready for the start of the 2023 campaign. The biggest splash on offense was the trade for tight end Darren Waller. Injuries have limited Waller to 20 games total over the last two seasons, but from 2019-2020, the 6-foot-6 tight end registered back-to-back seasons with 1,140+ receiving yards. When healthy, Waller is one of the most dangerous pass-catchers in the NFL, evidenced by his 197 receptions across his two strongest campaigns.

Waller brings elite speed to the tight end position (he ran a 4.46 40-yard dash), which should help create mismatches in the passing game. But he isn't the only acquisition that brings a new dimension to the offense. At the 2019 NFL Combine, new Giants wide receiver Parris Campbell posted an incredible 4.31 40-yard dash time. Injuries derailed the start of his career as he played in only 15 of 49 games through his first three seasons, but Campbell was able to play in every game last season. Schoen mentioned at the combine how creating separation was the most important characteristic they were looking for in the passing game, and both Waller and Campbell fit that description. On top of the new additions, the Giants also agreed to a deal with Darius Slayton to bring the former fifth-round pick back in the fold. Slayton, who ran a 4.39 at the 2019 combine, adds even more speed to an already quick group of pass-catchers.

View photos of the newest members of the Giants touring the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.


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