Takeaways from Tuesday's press conferences
On Tuesday, Giants head coach Joe Judge and SVP and general manager Dave Gettleman held a video conference call with the media to discuss several offseason topics. Here are some of the takeaways:
New coaching hires announced
Judge announced some changes to the coaching staff made since the conclusion of the season.
Rob Sale is the new offensive line coach. Sale was the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Louisiana-Lafayette for the last three seasons.
The Ragin' Cajun offense broke several school records under Sale, including rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. In addition, two offensive linemen who played under Sale at Louisiana-Lafayette were selected in the 2020 NFL Draft: second-round pick Robert Hunt (Miami Dolphins) and fourth-round pick Kevin Dotson (Pittsburgh Steelers). The two combined for 15 starts in 29 games this past season.
Sale worked as the offensive line coach at Arizona State (2017), Louisiana-Monroe (2016) and Georgia (2015) prior to joining Louisiana.
Jeremy Pruitt will also be joining the coaching staff as the team's new senior defensive assistant. Pruitt was the head coach at Tennessee from 2018-2020, where he worked with Giants inside linebackers coach Kevin Sherrer.
Pat Flaherty will be returning to the organization in a consulting role. Flaherty was the Giants' offensive line coach from 2004-2015, helping the franchise win two Super Bowls.
Finally, Derek Dooley and Freddie Kitchens will be swapping duties, with Dooley taking over as tight ends coach while Kitchens serves as the senior offensive assistant.
Confidence in young O-line
The Giants selected three offensive linemen in the first five rounds of last year's draft (Andrew Thomas, Matt Peart, Shane Lemieux). On top of that, Nick Gates, in just his second full NFL season after one year on injured reserve, moved to center for the first time in his career. Despite the lack experience among the group, both Judge and Gettleman shared a feeling of confidence about the offensive line.
When asked if he would be comfortable entering the season with Thomas and Peart as his two starting tackles, Gettleman responded, "I am, yes." He went on to add that at some point in time, you have to have confidence to play the young guys.
Thomas started 15 games in his rookie campaign. While he went through some ups and downs throughout the season, last year's No. 4 overall pick seemed to improve as the season wore on. Meanwhile, Peart played in 11 games with one start and finished with a solid overall grade of 69.7 from Pro Football Focus. He earned a strong 81.7 run blocking grade. Lemieux also played in 12 games (nine starts) in 2020.
"They're young, they're talented, and things take time," Gettleman said about the O-line. The general manager went on to note that the team went 4-2 against its NFC East rivals, all of whom boast talented defensive fronts.
Full support of Daniel Jones, Evan Engram
Gettleman was asked about this offseason's quarterback carousel and whether or not he pondered making a switch at the position. The general manager made it clear that Daniel Jones is the quarterback of the Giants, saying "we really believe he's the guy." Gettleman added there was no reason for the team to look around the league at other options.
"He showed us a lot of improvements," Judge added about the third-year pro. "A lot of things. I go on and on about how much we respect him and like him and how the locker room responds to him."
Another player who came up was Evan Engram. Similar to Gettleman's response about Jones, Judge left nothing up for interpretation when it came to the 26-year-old tight end, saying he has 100 percent confidence in Engram.
"He empties the tank every day," Judge noted.
Engram caught 63 passes for 654 yards and one touchdown in 16 games (14 starts) last season while adding a touchdown on the ground. He was selected to his first career Pro Bowl.
The team's own free agents
The Giants were set to enter the new league year with 16 of their own players becoming free agents. Following Tuesday's news that Leonard Williams would be receiving the franchise tag, that left 15 of the team's free agents scheduled to hit the market at the start of the new league year.
When asked about some of the team's free agents, Judge told reporters that he would "love to have all our guys back." The head coach went on to add that there is a process with free agency that needs to be played out when it comes to all of their own guys. However, added he cannot say enough good things about Dalvin Tomlinson, who is scheduled to become a free agent for the first time in his career.
Giants place franchise tag on Leonard Williams
The Giants will not let free agency determine whether they get to keep Leonard Williams.
The team announced today it has placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on the standout defensive tackle, who had the finest season of his six-year career in 2020. It is the second consecutive year Williams has received the franchise tag.
Williams is the second player the Giants have tagged twice. Another defensive linemen, Jason Pierre-Paul, was tagged in 2015 and 2017. But he never signed the franchise tender 2015 and it was rescinded after he suffered serious injuries in a fireworks accident on July 4. Williams could become the first Giants player to twice receive a tag and sign his franchise tender.
Williams, 26, was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent a week from tomorrow, the start of the NFL's new business year. A franchise tag is basically a one-year deal that grants a window to negotiate a long-term contract. If there is no contract agreement before July 15, Williams will play the 2021 season under the one-year deal, which is what he did last season. His salary would be a calculation based on the average of the top five salaries from his position or 120% of his previous year's salary, whichever is great.
The move gives the two sides time to negotiate a long-term contract, though Williams is free to negotiate with other teams when the free agency signing period begins. But if Williams signs a contract with another team, the Giants will receive two first round draft choices as compensation.
View photos of defensive lineman Leonard Williams.
2021 Pro Day Tracker: Northwestern headlines Tuesday's action
A total of 323 draft prospects have been invited to participate in the revamped 2021 NFL Scouting Combine.
The NFL Scouting Combine, which usually draws the entire football world to Indianapolis at this time each year, takes on a different format due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The biggest change is that all in-person workouts will take place at pro days on college campuses. Meanwhile, interviews and psychological testing will be virtual, and there will be limited in-person medical exams.
Below is a look at highlights from pro days around the country:
Tuesday, March 9
- Kansas State
- Northwestern: OT Rashawn Slater (No. 7 in Daniel Jeremiah's Top 50), CB Greg Newsome II (No. 31)