Giants Urged to Pursue Veteran Signing to Fill Hole at Safety

The New York Giants’ 2024 roster is taking shape, but it’s still incomplete as of March 28. Although one or two of these positions of need could be filled in the NFL draft, ESPN staff writer Bill Barnwell suggested that Big Blue target one area in free agency during an article on March 28. That position was starting safety.

“The Giants wanted to trade for edge rusher Brian Burns and pay him more than $28 million per year, which means they have to make cutbacks somewhere,” Barnwell noted. “For general manager Joe Schoen, those cutbacks appear to be in the secondary.”

Giants Urged to Pursue Veteran Signing to Fill Hole at Safety

“New York let its two most prominent defensive backs hit the open market,” he continued. “[Safety Xavier] McKinney immediately signed a four-year, $68 million deal with the [Green Bay] Packers, becoming one of the few safeties in a loaded market to get paid. [Cornerback Adoree’] Jackson remains unsigned.”

Barnwell went on to detail the Jalen Mills signing — which was the lone NYG acquisition in the secondary.

“The one veteran addition the Giants have made is bringing in Mills, who fell out of the [New England] Patriots’ starting lineup and into a situational role last season,” the ESPN analyst stated. “His one-year deal was for just over $1 million, which suggests he is joining to serve in a utility role as opposed to being guaranteed a starting opportunity.”

Barnwell eventually urged the Giants to correct this deficiency by “signing one of the many veteran safeties still available.”

“The Giants might feel good about [safety Jason] Pinnock’s future, and [safety Dane] Belton showed his promise with a three-takeaway game late in the season, but I would be surprised if they didn’t take advantage of the market and add at least one veteran safety,” Barnwell reasoned.

Veteran Free Agent Options for the Giants at Safety
Barnwell cited several free agent candidates for the Giants, but the list is long.

“Justin Simmons, Quandre Diggs, Marcus Maye, Tashaun Gipson and Julian Blackmon are all free agents,” he wrote, “and the Giants have arguably the weakest pair of starting safeties on paper.”

Along with the names above, Jamal Adams, Eddie Jackson, Micah Hyde, Tracy Walker, Jayron Kearse, Adrian Phillips, Kareem Jackson and Terrell Edmunds are all still available on the open market — among others — after a major devaluing of the position around the league.

Barnwell concluded that “adding one of those guys on a one-year deal would bring a veteran into the defensive backs room and help a team that is otherwise set to run out a young secondary.”

Safety Market Is Much Deeper Than CB Market
The Mills addition gives the Giants some versatility. According to Pro Football Focus, Mills has actually played the majority of his defensive snaps at cornerback throughout his career — with over 3,600 snaps at CB.

Of course, it’s important to clarify that his CB snaps have decreased since 2021, with just 27 cornerback snaps in 2023. Mills was utilized in a variety of roles last season, including free safety (159 snaps), nickelback/slot (136 snaps), box safety (106 snaps) and up alongside the defensive line (31 snaps).

If Mills can play nickelback for the Giants, it could lessen the need at cornerback with youngsters like Cor’Dale Flott, Tre Hawkins, Darnay Holmes, Aaron Robinson and a new draft pick potentially competing for the job across from Deonte Banks.

Big Blue has looked around at cornerback this offseason, checking in with Darious Williams and Tre’Davious White before their respective signings with the Los Angeles Rams. With the cornerback market beginning to dry up, however, perhaps it’s time the Giants follow Barnwell’s advice and pursue a more affordable quality safety instead.

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