Most of the focus this offseason has been centered on the process of rebuilding the New York Giants‘ offensive line. The biggest free agent that the Giants have been linked to is cornerback Alterraun Verner. When that rumor surfaced, many were surprised to see that it involved a top-of-the-market player who was not an offensive lineman.
And that’s fine — cornerback is the second-biggest need that the Giants have. Given the salary cap space for several other teams, the Giants are likely to be outbid for Verner’s services. It seems likely that the team will turn their focus to the second tier of talent at the cornerback position. Recently, they have turned their efforts to another cornerback.
Earlier this evening, Jordan Raanan broke the news that the Giants have shown interest in free agent cornerback Corey Graham. With rumors of interest in several offensive linemen and cornerbacks beginning to pour in on the eve before free agency, it seems as if the Giants will take an aggressive approach to free agency.
With Prince Amukamara and Jayron Hosley as the only two cornerbacks currently on the roster, it’s safe to say that they will spend at cornerback . The team is likely to lose out on a bidding war for top target Verner, but signing Graham would be an excellent consolation prize.
Graham fits the mold of every free agent that deserves being targeted in the early weeks — young and improving each year. Graham has served as a versatile and valuable chess piece for the Ravens over the last two seasons. They have used him as an outside cornerback and in the slot, where he has found his best success.
According to Pro Football Focus, he finished 2013 as the 32nd-best cornerback out of 79 qualifiers who played at least 50 percent of their team’s snaps. For comparisons sake, he finished with the exact same overall grade as Amukamara.
Graham is just 28 years of age and he carries no injury history with him. At just a hair under six feet tall and 196 pounds, he possesses a body type that can fit well in any scheme, but is best utilized in press-man coverage. This is the exact kind of coverage that defensive coordinator Perry Fewell relied more on in the back half of the 2013 season, when the Giants’ defense had its greatest success.
They called it a “simplified” defense, and it really was, relying mostly on man coverage with the two safeties over the top. The ideal goal would be to lock up Graham on something like a four-year, $17 million deal.
Although he hasn’t received any buzz yet from the Giants or any team, Tarell Brown is another excellent option for the Giants to explore in free agency. Brown made my list as my second favorite underrated free agent for the team to sign. According to Pro Football Focus, Brown finished 2012 as the 12th-best cornerback overall.
In 2013, he got injured early and his replacement, Tramaine Brock, performed exceptionally well in his absence. Due to Brock’s play, Brown never reclaimed the starting job. However, he still managed to finish the season with a better overall grade than both Graham and Amukamara.
At 29 years of age, with uninformed questions about why he lost his starting job in 2012, Brown is flying too far under the radar. No teams have been linked to him yet in free agency. The Giants should take this opportunity to pounce and make Brown a four-year, $16-18 million offer that he can’t refuse given his slowly developing market.
Overall, it seems that the Giants understand how important it is to upgrade at cornerback. Signing either of these two free agents allows the team to add a solid starter while not having to jeopardize the rest of the roster.