The New York Giants just made their biggest move of the offseason, locking up corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to a five-year, $39 million contract with $15 million guaranteed. The move comes just days after the Giants signed former Seattle Seahawk,Walter Thurmond. The two moves not only make the Giants’ secondary one of the top units in the NFL, but they could make the entire defense one of the most feared units in the league.
The Giants’ cornerbacks are now Rodgers-Cromartie, Thurmond and last year’s starters Prince Amukamara and Trumaine McBride. Keep in mind, last season that pair helped lead the Giants’ defense to a top 10 ranking.
Rodgers-Cromartie was easily the best remaining cornerback on the market and a true No. 1. According to Pro Football Focus he only allowed a 44.1 percent completion rate against him, which was second in the league. And overall he was the fifth-highest graded cornerback last season. The Giants have never had a corner this good under Tom Coughlin, despite spending tons of resources on the position.
Thurmond mostly played the slot with the Seahawks and graded favorably at the position. According to PFF he allowed only 0.85 yards per snap in the slot, which was fifth-best. He’ll likely man the same position with the Giants, leaving McBride as quality depth.
The safeties are Antrel Rolle, Will Hill, Stevie Brown and Quintin Demps. Rolle was arguably the Giants’ best player last season and was named to the All-Pro second-team. Hill started the season with a four-game suspension, but when he returned he quickly took a starting position with the team. He was a playmaker and one of the major reasons for the Giants’ defensive turnaround.
Brown missed all of last season, but the year before he filled in for an injured Kenny Phillips and led the team with eight interceptions. Demps was a reserve safety with the Kansas City Chiefs who was primarily brought in to return kickoffs. Still, he started four games for the Chiefs and recorded four interceptions. If the Giants don’t boast the best secondary, it’ll at least be the deepest.
The Giants also managed to improve at linebacker, adding former Baltimore Raven Jameel McClain in addition to retaining Jon Beason. While those two hardly make the linebacker unit dominant, they may be the best set the Giants have had since they let Kawika Mitchell leave after the 2007 season.
The biggest question mark lies with the defensive line. The Giants lost Linval Joseph and Justin Tuck. Both players were monsters in the run game, top linemen and leaders on the team. But there is upside at the position.
Jason Pierre-Paul needed surgery last offseason and never played the way the Giants hoped. Two years ago he was an absolute monster. It seemed he was going to turn into a superstar. With a healthy offseason, Pierre-Paul may be able to return to that level, and that alone could offset the loss of Tuck.
Johnathan Hankins was last year’s second-round pick. He is a monster of a man and will be asked to replace Joseph at nose tackle. It might be hard for him to fully replace Joseph, but after being drafted so high, there will be a lot expected of him. Even if the defensive line takes a step back, the Giants have improved dramatically on the back end. Even a small drop off won’t be prohibitive. Plus, there’s always the chance the Giants add some depth linemen like Anthony Spencer, who is already at the Giants’ facility for a visit.
There is still work to do on the offense, but as of now it looks like the Giants have the makings of a top defense going into the season. That alone might help the Giants make the postseason for the first time since 2011.