The New York Giants went into free agency with their pockets full. With over 70 million in the cap, the Giants had their most cap space since their 200 million dollar spending spree in 2016. This go around the Giants spent over 100 million dollars, but this time played it differently. With several needs on both sides of the ball, let’s take a look and grade each free agent signing for the Giants and how Dave Gettleman changed the game plan in free agency.
Written by Ali Jawad
A new approach to FA
In previous offseasons, the Giants were known to hand out a large sum of money to free agents. Most notable in 2016, when then Giants General Manager Jerry Reese handed out 200 million dollars in free-agent contracts. A move that landed the Giants in the playoffs in 2016 then backfired over the next two seasons. Current General Manager Dave Gettleman had his fair share of bad signings as well, most notably Nate Solder four years $62 million. This time Gettleman took a different approach by front-loading all the deals he made, as well as no signing bonuses instead opting to go with roster bonuses. Translation: The Giants will take on the cap hits this year and come back next offseason with minimal cap hits and find themselves sitting strong in cap space for the 2021 off-season.
James Bradberry CB Grade A
Contract: 3-Years, $45M, $32M guaranteed
By far, the best signing for the Giants, especially at a dire need like corner. With the fifth-worst pass defense in the NFL, Bradberry should provide an immediate upgrade but, more importantly, gives the Giants a true number one corner that has matched up against the likes of Mike Evans, Michael Thomas, and Julio Jones. The only WR this past season that scored on Bradberry was Thomas in week 12 when the Panthers took on the Saints. Bradberry got the best of Thomas in week 17 when he completely shut him out holding him to zero receptions as Thomas was targeted only twice all game. He allowed a QB passer rating of just 63.5 and had three interceptions, and I'll repeat only one touchdown in 2019.
Blake Martinez ILB Grade B-
Contract: 3-Years, $30M, 19M Guaranteed
The Giant's most depleted position heading into free agency was linebacker. The team moved on from Alec Ogletree after back to back seasons as a starter at inside linebacker (about time). Martinez is the Giant's next notable free-agent signing. A volume tackler, a good run defender, and familiarity with the Giants defense now under new DC Patrick Graham who coaches Martinez in Green Bay makes this a reasonable signing for big blue. Martinez has registered 512 tackles in four years with the Packers, including 155 in 2019 and missing only 12 tackles in 2019 (7.7%). He also has recorded ten sacks as an inside backer 8 in the past two seasons and has proven to be an effective Blitzer inside. PFF even had Martinez ranked as the fourth-best run-stopping off the ball linebacker in 2019. The one knock is pass coverage, an area the Giants struggled in last season, especially over the middle. Martinez surrendered a completion percentage of 83.8% last season, 62 receptions off 74 targets for 570 yards, and two touchdowns. Where Giants fans need to calm down the most when looking at those numbers is to remember new head coach Joe Judge is all about strengths and knowing what a player can do.
Levine Toilolo TE Grade B-
Contract: 2-Years, $6.2M, $3.225M Guaranteed
In my opinion, the most underrated FA signing made by the Giants. After losing blocking tight end Rhett Elison to retirement, the Giants went out and signed Toilolo previously with the Falcons to fill in the hole. At 6 foot 8 and 268 pounds, Toilolo is one of the best pass-blocking tight ends in the game and was ranked by PFF, the 26th best overall run blocker in the league. He also comes with his fair share of production in the passing game. In seven seasons, he has logged 97 passes for 996 yards and eight touchdowns. Not mind-blowing numbers but considering the Giants have Evan Engram (hoping he can stay healthy this season) and the job Kaden Smith did last season filling in for Engram in the 2019 season gives the Giants a quality backup TE in the passing game. The Giants can now use Toilolo as an extra blocker on either side, and this will come in handy for the team as they continue to try and sure things up at tackle.
Kyler Fackrell OLB Grade C+
Contract: One year deal worth 4.6M
I like this signing because it is all too familiar with the Markus Golden signing last season. Fackrell, also a former Packer, should provide the Giants some help in the pass rush. Two seasons ago, Fackrell totaled 42 tackles and 10.5 sacks. Then the Smith brothers arrived in Green Bay; this caused a dip in production as Fackrell managed just 23 tackles and one sack. With Fackrell being reunited with his former coach as well in Patrick Graham, this will be another familiar look as well as increased playing time. If he can replicate his 2018 season in 2020 for the Giants, then this will undoubtedly be worth the one year deal he was given, and the team could look to keeping him around long term.
Cam Fleming OT Grade C
Contract: One year deal worth $4M
The good news is that Fleming reunited with Joe Judge, Jason Garrett, and Marc Colombo. Fleming the former Cowboy and Patriot should provide at least a quality depth piece for the offensive line. He is also a swing tackle and capable of filling in on either side, has also been used as a jumbo tight end, and can play both guard positions. The bad Fleming had his fair share of inconsistent play. He filled in for Tyron Smith against the Packers, and even though it was not his best game, the Cowboys coaching staff could be at fault for that matchup, failing to provide any help on the left side next to Fleming. Unlike when he was in New England, he started for the Patriots at the right tackle, and Belichick provided him with some help along the right side, allowing Fleming to play up to par. This signing ultimately depends on how well the coaching staff uses Fleming.
Nate Ebner Safety Grade C
Contract: One year, 2M
Ignore his position. Ebner has taken one defensive snap in the past three seasons. He was with Joe Judge in New England and of the Patriots top special team players. At 31 Ebner should be a quality piece and leader for a Giants special teams that was ranked one of the best in the league last season at seventh overall as a unit.
Dion Lewis RB Grade C-
I expected the Giants to make a move at RB and was more so looking to the draft. Lewis comes to the big apple after two seasons with Tennessee and previously three seasons (2015-2017) with the Patriots. Lewis, as we recall, is best known as a pass-catching back. Just ask Joe Judge, who Lewis reunites with. Two seasons ago, Lewis caught 59 balls for 400 yards and one touchdown. He also added 517 yards rushing. His production dipped last year with Derrick Henry exploding into the scene since the ending of the 2018 season. Still, with the draft proving options at RB and Wayne Gallman's time as a Giant up in the air Lewis at least provides the Giants with some depth at RB behind All-Pro back Saquon Barkley.
Colt McCoy QB Grade C-
Contract: 1-Year, $2.25M, 1.5M Guaranteed
Not much to say here as McCoy remains in the NFC East. The Giants did need to make a move for a backup QB, and having McCoy gives the Giants at least a quality back up in McCoy, who is a ten year NFL veteran and will compete with Alex Tanney for the backup job behind starter Daniel Jones.
Austin Johnson DT Grade D
Johnson is a former 2nd round pick back in 2016 by the Titans. Likely just a role player for the Giants who already possess one of the best run-stopping DTs in Dalvin Tomlinson and right behind him is a promising 3rd round pick from 2018 in BJ Hill. Johnson will likely be competing for a roster spot in 2020. He has registered just 83 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and five pass deflections since his rookie season in 2016.