More Sports:

March 28, 2020

NFC East 2020 free agency grades: New York Giants edition

Eagles NFL
032820LeonardWilliams Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports

With their 2019 season already over, the Giants traded two draft picks for soon-to-be free agent Leonard Williams, and then franchise tagged him, lol.

Dave Gettleman is somehow only entering his third year as the New York Giants' general manager, though it feels like he's been there far longer than that. His 2018 and 2019 offseasons were objectively atrocious, and often comical.

Let's see what he and the Giants have done so far in 2020 free agency (you can look at our Cowboys breakdown right HERE).

Players they retained

DE Leonard Williams (Franchise tag, one year, $16,126,000)

After consecutive losses to the Cardinals and Lions in October, the Giants were 2-6, and their season was basically over. So what did Gettleman do? He traded a third-round pick (which is now the 68th overall pick) in 2020 and a fifth-round pick (that could become a fourth-round pick) in 2021 to the Jets for Williams, essentially for eight games. Lol.

At his year-end press conference, Gettleman faced a line of questioning about the Williams deal, that went like so:

Q: I know previously you spoke to a team employee about the Leonard Williams trade. Can you talk about the thought process of trading a top seven pick and multiple other draft picks to bring Williams in when he was going to be a free agent at the end of the year?

Gettleman: Basically, you know, it was a three and a five. If we sign him it moves up to a four. The thought process was, I really believe that as much as the style of play evolves, there are basic truths— you have to run the ball, you have to stop the run, you have to rush the passer. If you are seriously deficient in any one of those three areas, it makes it tough. It's going to be tough sledding. By bringing in Leonard, we looked at it, we obviously evaluated the film, by bringing him in, we felt he could be a disruptive force inside. And, he has been. He has been.

Q: Couldn't you have gotten him at the end of the year?

Gettleman: Well, that's hypothetical. I understand what you're saying, I really do, but at the end of the day, we felt good about him, he did what we wanted him to do, and he wants to be here.

Q: Why not wait until free agency?

Gettleman: Because now we know what we have, and we were willing to do that.

Q: So, you were willing to give up two draft picks, whether it's three, four, or three, five, in order to get that information?

Gettleman: Exactly. We felt we needed him. Again, we felt good about it and we feel, and he's proven, he's disruptive in there. He improved our rushing defense with him in there, he buzzes around the quarterback, we've just got to get him to finish now. But, the bottom line is we felt it was worth the deal. The juice was worth the squeeze.

Again, lol.

They couldn't get a long-term deal done with Williams, and since the loss of a pair of draft picks for a team that went 4-12 the year before would have been wholly indefensible, they franchise tagged him.

Williams has been a disappointment as the sixth overall pick in the 2015 draft (17.5 career sacks in five years, 0.5 in 2019), but he's still a good interior defensive line starter. He is obviously not worth $16,126,000 for one year, and his agent should be thrilled to get the tag.

• LB David Mayo (three years, $8.4 million)

The Giants picked up Mayo after the Niners cut him after training camp. He had 82 tackles, two sacks in 2019. Good run defender, bad in coverage.

• WR Cody Core (two years, $4 million)

Special teams guy.

• WR Corey Coleman (money details unknown)

The former first round bust signed with the Giants in 2018, had five catches that season, and then tore an ACL during training camp in 2019.

Players they gained

CB James Bradbury (signed for three years, $43.5 million)

Paying $14.5 million/year for Bradbury is pricey, but he's 26 years old (he'll turn 27 in August), and the Giants have a clean out after two years if he under-performs.

The Giants made the correct decision to get Janoris Jenkins off their roster after he used an offensive slur, and then stood by it. As a result, however, they were extremely light at corner, and absolutely had to address it in free agency. With the Eagles, Dolphins, and Raiders all bidding on Byron Jones, the Giants went hard after the next guy up after him, and got their man. If that was done purposefully, that's not a bad strategy. We'll give Gettleman a golf clap there.

LB Blake Martinez (signed for three years, $30.75 million)

Ahhhh, and we're right back to the Gettleman we know and love. Yes, Martinez is a tackling machine, at least in the stat column. He had 155 tackles in 2019 (second in the NFL), 144 in 2018 (again, second in the NFL), and 144 in 2017 (tied for first in the NFL).

And yet, he really isn't a very good tackler. According to, Martinez missed 18 tackles last year, giving him a bad missed tackle percentage of 10.4 percent.

Racking up a lot of tackles doesn't move the needle in today's NFL. Remember the Eagles-Packers game last year, when the Eagles racked up 176 rushing yards and two TDs on 33 carries? Well, Martinez had 15 tackles in that game (the next closest Packer had 8), and I'll bet that nobody here remembers anything about him from that game.

What does matter in today's NFL is being able to cover, and Martinez struggles there. He is a player that maybe should have a lot appeal in 1980, not 2020.

• OLB Kyler Fackrell (one year, $4.6 million)

Markus Golden's signing to a one-year "prove it" deal was a rare 2019 offseason move that made sense for the Giants, and he quietly had a productive 2019 season, racking up 72 tackles, 10 sacks, 13 tackles for loss, and 27 hits on the quarterback. In 2019, after hitting sack incentives, Golden made $4,750,000. Surprisingly, he remains unsigned. The guess here is that he's asking for more money than teams want to pay.

If the Giants are going from Golden to Fackrell, that is a substantial downgrade.

• RB Dion Lewis (money details unknown)

It's hard not to think of Gettleman's signing of an already cooked Jonathan Stewart a few years ago here. Lewis is coming off two down seasons in Tennessee, and he turns 30 in September.

• OT Cameron Fleming (money details unknown)

Fleming has played in 75 games, with 26 starts, and never more than seven starts in one season. He could replace journeyman Mike Remmers at RT. If Fleming was added as depth only, then great. Good signing. If they view him as a starting RT, then a pairing of Nate Solder and Fleming would give the Giants one of the worst offensive tackle combos in the NFL.

• DT Austin Johnson (money details unknown)

Johnson is known more as a run stuffer, because of course he is. He'll be a backup behind Williams, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Dexter Lawrence. The Giants have almost no threats at all to get to the quarterback.

• QB Colt McCoy (one year, reported at $2.5 million)

For a team that has seemingly found its franchise quarterback in Daniel Jones, but is still going nowhere in 2020, McCoy makes sense as a low-cost backup.

• TE Levine Toilolo (two years, $6.2 million)

Toilolo is a 6'8, 270-pound blocking tight end with fewer than 1,000 receiving yards in seven seasons.

• S Nate Ebner (one year, $2 million)

Long-time special teams guy with the Patri*ts. Former Pats special teams coach Joe Judge undoubtedly wanted him. 

Players they lost

• QB Eli Manning, Retirement

By far, Manning's retirement is the best thing that happened to the Giants this offseason. They should have moved on from Manning years ago, but because the Giants felt that they owed him some sort of insanely idiotic loyalty, they kept him and his massive cap hits around until he finally retired.

• RT Mike Remmers (Chiefs)

Remmers' NFL tour continues:

  1. Denver Broncos (2012)
  2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2012–2013)
  3. San Diego Chargers (2013)
  4. Minnesota Vikings (2013)
  5. St. Louis Rams (2014)*
  6. Carolina Panthers (2014–2016)
  7. Minnesota Vikings (2017–2018)
  8. New York Giants (2019)
  9. Kansas City Chiefs (2020–present)

As noted above already, to be determined if the Giants have a better plan than Cameron Fleming to replace him.

• WR Cody Latimer (Washington)

Latimer was a second-round disappointment for the Broncos, but at least became a useful special teams guy and No. 4 receiver for the Giants the last two years.

• CB Antonio Hamilton (Chiefs)

Special teamer and backup corner.

The tale of the tape

Players staying Players added  Players lost 
 DE Leonard WilliamsCB James Bradberry QB Eli Manning 
LB David Mayo  LB Blake Martinez RT Mike Remmers
 WR Cody Core OLB Kyler Fackrell WR Cody Latimer
 WR Corey Coleman RB Dion Lewis CB Antonio Hamilton
  OT Cameron Fleming 
  DT Austin Johnson 
  QB Colt McCoy 
  TE Levine Toilolo 
  S Nate Ebner 


The Giants entered 2020 free agency with a boatload of cap space, and a Swiss cheese roster. It shouldn't have been hard for them to get significantly better in free agency, and it's debatable whether they really did that or not, even after signing nine outside players.

The Giants absolutely had to sign a cornerback, and they did so in Bradberry. He'll certainly help. 

But beyond that, they spent on a lot of "guys," none of whom have much in the way of projected upside. Is there anyone in the Giants' "players added" column above who hasn't already reached their ceiling, or is coming down from it? In my view, no. 

For a team that has gone 12-36 the last three years, the focus should have been on adding young players with an upward trajectory, not paying for non-impact role players who just are what they are.

Grade: C-

Follow Jimmy & PhillyVoice on Twitter: @JimmyKempski | @thePhillyVoice

Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports

Add Jimmy's RSS feed to your feed reader