The New York Giants swung big in free agency. Despite entering the offseason seemingly strapped for cash, the team reworked their finances en route to a $170 million-plus spending spree, the fifth-highest total in the NFL (per Over the Cap).
Rather frugal with their money in recent years, the Giants’ sudden aggressiveness to acquire talent draws parallels to their memorable free agency haul of 2016. Fast forward five years and the team may now look to put the final stamp on this year’s free agency haul with a big-ticket get from years past.
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Giants Urged to Reunite With Olivier Vernon
New York’s 2016 free agency class was headlined by the likes of Janoris Jenkins, Snacks Harrison and Olivier Vernon. Jackrabbit signed with the Tennessee Titans earlier this offseason. Snacks, while intriguing, is now 32 years old and owns an average PFF grade of just 65.1 overall since 2019.
Then there’s Vernon.
The NFL’s 14th-leading sack artist of 2020 and former $85 million dollar pass rusher remains up for grabs on the free agency market, and Bleacher Report’s Alex Kay believes he’s the one remaining free agent the Giants should zero in on.
“The Giants have had a quality offseason, picking up receiver Kenny Golladay and corner Adoree’ Jackson and re-signing Leonard Williams to address some of their most glaring holes,” Kay wrote. “They can punctuate it by inking one more pass-rusher to round out a defense that looks to be much improved for the upcoming campaign.”
“Olivier Vernon would be a solid addition to the Big Blue roster as a productive edge-rusher with a strong motor,” he added. “He is coming off a torn Achilles he suffered late in the 2020 season but once healthy should get right back to attacking the quarterback at a high level.”
Vernon enjoyed a terrific 2020 campaign, racking up 9.0 sacks in 14 games. Furthermore, his 51 pressures were just five fewer than All-Pro teammate Myles Garrett for the lead amongst all Browns defenders. The former Pro Bowler looked destined to cash in on yet another hefty payday this offseason. That was until a late-season injury struck. Unfortunately for Vernon, he suffered a torn Achilles in the regular-season finale, putting his 2021 availability in question.
A Return to NY Could Pay Dividends for Both Parties
While there is a chance he returns in time for a late-season push, Vernon is in an awkward position where his proven track record and recent on-field production outweigh the price most teams are likely willing to spend on him due to injury.
He could theoretically wait until he’s healthy to sign, potentially latching on with a title contender late in the year. Or, Vernon could opt to take his talents to familiar stomping grounds where his prowess coming off the edge would certainly be welcomed and where he could likely earn enough playing time to rebuild his value.
“Vernon had some of his best years as a pro with the G-Men, racking up 22 sacks in three seasons with the club before he was dealt to Cleveland as part of the Odell Beckham Jr. trade,” Kay noted. “The Giants should welcome him back with open arms, upgrading the defense with a key veteran piece in the process.”
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