The new league year is right around the corner.
The NFL calendar officially flips to 2021 on March 17, when all 2020 player contracts expire and thus free agency begins. The league has finally set the salary cap at $182.5 million, down from $198.2 million in 2020 as the league deals with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the placement of the franchise tag on Leonard Williams, the Giants now have 15 players set to become free agents next week.
In anticipation of what has already been a wild offseason for player movement, NFL.com ranked the top 101 free agents of 2021. A few players' names have been crossed off the list, as several free agents have already agreed to deals with new teams. However, other big names remain.
While we wait to see what the team does, Giants.com broke down the roster as it currently stands in the "2021 Free Agency Position Preview" series. Here you will find the Giants' current depth, the team's pending free agents, and the top players available from across the league at each position with analysis from NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal.
The other free agency previews can be found here: offensive playmakers at wide receiver and tight end, defensive tackles and linebackers, quarterbacks and running backs, defensive backs and offensive linemen.
Now let's get into the edge rushers.
Current depth: Lorenzo Carter, Oshane Ximines, Cam Brown, Carter Coughlin, Niko Lalos, Trent Harris (reserve/future deal), Breeland Speaks (reserve/future deal)
Pending free agents: Kyler Fackrell, Jabaal Sheard
The Giants lost two of their top edge rushers early last season as Lorenzo Carter, a third-round pick in 2018, and Oshane Ximines, a third-round pick in 2019, both suffered season ending injuries by Week 5. Carter and Ximines registered 4.5 sacks apiece during the 2019 campaign. Cam Brown played in 15 games this past season after being selected in the sixth round of last year's draft. While he mostly played on special teams, Brown did pick up a forced fumble and three quarterback hits in limited action on defense. Coughlin was a seventh-round pick in the 2020 draft and picked up one sack, two tackles for loss and two quarterback hits in 14 games. Niko Lalos was signed as an undrafted free agent last year and spent most of the season on the practice squad. He made his NFL debut in Week 12 and went on to register turnovers in each of his first two games (one interception, one fumble recovery). Kyler Fackrell is set to become a free agent after leading the team's edge rushers with four sacks last season, as is Jabaal Sheard who joined the team in October and finished with 1.5 sacks. Harris was claimed off waivers in October and played in a few games for the Giants, but spent most of the season on the practice squad. He was signed to a reserve/future deal following the conclusion of the season. Speaks was signed to a reserve/future deal in January after spending time during the 2020 season on both the Raiders and Cowboys' practice squads.
View NFL.com's updated rankings of the top 101 free agents of 2021 ahead of the new league year, which begins March 17.
Top Edge defenders available according to NFL.com (comments from NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal):
Shaquil Barrett (No. 2 overall in NFL.com's Top 101 Free Agents of 2021), Tampa Bay Buccaneers: "While Barrett's sack total fell in 2020, he was a monster in the playoffs. Anyone believing he's a one-year wonder should also check out his remarkably steady annual PFF grade, never dipping below 74.0 in six NFL seasons despite increased usage."
Bud Dupree (No. 3), Pittsburgh Steelers: "A late-season torn ACL hurts Dupree's value, but he's versatile and strong enough to make a three-year contract worth it."
Trey Hendrickson (No. 4), New Orleans Saints: "The 2017 third-rounder always looked like a guy who could explode if given more snaps. In 2020, he was and he did. A Shaq Barrett-like career path is in play, with more production at his second stop."
Carl Lawson (No. 5), Cincinnati Bengals: "Pass rush in a bottle. I can't imagine why the Bengals would not tag Lawson, who finished fourth in pressures (64) and second in QB hits (24) among edge rushers, per PFF."
Jadeveon Clowney (No. 7), Tennessee Titans: "His stock is at a low, but I'm still taking Clowney's snap-to-snap ferocity upside over players like Yannick Ngakoue and Matt Judon. Still just 28, Clowney remains capable of a strong second phase to his career."
Matt Judon (No. 9), Baltimore Ravens: "Never lacking for effort, Judon is the product of a Ravens system known for strong outside linebacker play that doesn't always translate to other rosters."
Yannick Ngakoue (No. 11), Baltimore Ravens: "It's clear that Ngakoue's pure outside rush doesn't work in every scheme after a lost season in Minnesota and Baltimore. He's a liability against the run, and it's a red flag that his production has fallen every season since 2017, when he played on a historically good Jags defense."
Romeo Okwara (No. 20), Detroit Lions: "His pass-rush production spiked in 2020 with 61 pressures, tying him for the fifth-most among edge rushers, according to PFF."
Leonard Floyd (No. 24), Los Angeles Rams: "Playing on the same line as Aaron Donald gave Floyd a bump like it did to Dante Fowler a year ago. Floyd's longer track record as a workmanlike starter makes him a relatively safe pickup."
Shelby Harris (No. 27), Denver Broncos: "If you know, you know. A master shot blocker in the paint, Harris' game has exceeded his brand name for a while."
Justin Houston (No. 28), Indianapolis Colts: "Professionalism ages well. One of the most productive pass rushers of the last decade can still get it done, albeit in a reduced role."
Haasan Reddick (No. 29), Arizona Cardinals: "In one year, Reddick went from a potential roster cut to a contract-year revelation. I'd be wary of expecting 2020 production from Reddick again, but his first-round pedigree will help him get paid."
Carlos Dunlap (No. 34), Seattle Seahawks: "After a sneaky great 2019 campaign, Dunlap juiced the Seahawks' playoff push last year following a midseason trade from Cincinnati. He was released because he wasn't worth $14 million in this market, but he is worth a look for teams needing a pass rusher."
Melvin Ingram (No. 39), Los Angeles Chargers: "There is some concern that Ingram's ferocious playing style could be compromised by injury (missed 12 games since 2019), but he's been a force every time he's stepped on the field and could give any defense a nasty attitude upgrade."
Denico Autry (No. 49), Indianapolis Colts: "I defy you to watch Autry for a few games and not come away thinking, "Nice ballplayer!""
Aldon Smith (No. 74), Dallas Cowboys: "While Smith's comeback faded as the season wore on in Dallas, he showed enough to get another contract as a third pass rusher for some team."
Derek Wolfe (No. 79), Baltimore Ravens: "It was no surprise that Wolfe helped the Ravens as a rotational player last season and should provide a similar boost for some team in 2021."
Takkarist McKinley (No. 84), Las Vegas Raiders: "I'd love to see the right organization turn McKinley's career around because the juice he showed in his first three seasons as a pass rusher was not a fluke."
Kerry Hyder (No. 94), San Francisco 49ers: "No one has recorded more sacks on more teams over the last few years without anyone noticing."
Everson Griffen (No. 97), Detroit Lions: "It took long enough, but Griffen finally started to show his age in his stops with the Cowboys and Lions last year."
View the team's current depth on the roster at edge defender.