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Giants GM Dave Gettleman knows there is much work to do this offseason to upgrade a roster that has many holes to fill. The 2020 NFL Draft will hopefully shore up some of those, but with a little over $61 million to work with at the moment in cap space, according to Over The Cap, Gettleman can also be aggressive on the free agent market.
Looking at the Giants roster needs and the current free agent class, adding a pass rusher (or maybe even two) is definitely in the cards for Big Blue.
It's no secret that the Giants would love to add more defensive ends or outside linebackers that can get in the backfield and disrupt the quarterback. The defensive line was solid against the run, coming in seventh in the NFL this past season, according to Football Outsiders. Rookie Dexter Lawrence teaming up with second-year players in Dalvin Tomlinson and B.J. Hill showed tremendous upside in clogging up the interior.
But when it came to rushing the passer, the Giants came in at 23rd in the league. Their 36 sacks on the season were below the league average of 40 as well. New defensive coordinator Patrick Graham -- no matter what scheme he runs this season -- will need some help, then, off the edge.
And before we get into the potential candidates to lend that help, it should be a given that the Giants discuss re-signing Markus Golden after proving he deserves a multi-year deal following a 10-sack season. He lived up to his prove-it contract and Gettleman should reward him for his efforts -- at the right price, of course.
Now, without further ado, here are a few pass rushers Gettleman & Co. should be targeting when free agency begins on March 18...
Leading what is a stacked pack of free agent edge rushers is Clowney, who is great at both stopping the run and getting to the quarterback. Clowney signed a one-year deal with the Seahawks this season worth $15 million after spending five years with the Texans.
His production took a dip this year compared to his 2017 and 2018 seasons, which saw 9.5 and 9.0 sacks, respectively. His three sacks and 31 combined tackles came over 13 games (11 starts), but injury had a lot to do with that. He played through his core injury, knowing the Seahawks needed him in the playoffs. He should be getting surgery very soon to repair that.
Clowney will be 27 years old next season, and when healthy, he is one of the best rushers in the game. He had 21 quarterback hits apiece in the previous two seasons, with 13 coming this year. His surgery and down production shouldn't scare the Giants away -- even with his market value at $20 million.
A third-round pick by the Jaguars back in 2016, Ngakoue has developed into a consistent edge rusher for Jacksonville over the past four seasons. He has 37.5 sacks over that span with eight last season, and a 12-sack season back in 2017. He also has a knack for knocking the ball out, with 14 forced fumbles in his career (four this year).
Ngakoue will be 25 next season, which should have many teams calling his agent. And he should definitely see a hefty payday with a $17.1 million market value. Like Clowney, he'll be in the top tier for the Giants to pursue.
Talk about a breakout season. Barrett led the NFL with 19.5 sacks this season, and it couldn't come at a better time than on a one-year deal with the Bucs. So he will be a hot commodity this offseason.
Will it be worth the $15.7 million market value he's projected? Barrett totaled 14 sacks over his first five seasons with the Broncos before the Bucs tapped into his potential this season. The Giants would have to trust he can produce like that again in the future. If he does, he would be an absolute force on defense, with 37 quarterback hits and six forced fumbles coming this year as well.
Dante Fowler Jr.
He was the third overall pick by the Jaguars back in the 2015 Draft, but Fowler never lived up to that hype. That is until he went off for the Rams this season.
Fowler had 11.5 sacks in 16 games with two forced fumbles and a career-high six passes defended as well. He was out to prove something, and it should result in a lovely new contract for the 25-year-old.
The one red flag on him: Fowler has noted issues off the field. He was suspended for one game in 2018 -- the Jags' season opener against the Giants -- due to misdemeanor charges that stemmed from a July 2017 incident in St. Petersburg, Fla. There is also the well-documented fight that Fowler and Ngakoue got into back in 2018 training camp with the Jags. Something to keep in mind.
The Steelers didn't give their 2015 first-rounder a new contract last season, but rather picked up his fifth-year option after not fully living up to his potential. But, of course, that changed this season.
Dupree posted career highs in sacks (11.5), combined tackles (68) and forced fumbles (4), and now Pittsburgh will have some trouble with other teams likely looking for his services. The Giants should be on that list, as Dupree is another young pass rusher to covet.
He turns 27 next month, a main reason why his market value is set at $16.6 million.
If watching Patrick Mahomes and Jimmy Garoppolo battle isn't enough, here's another reason Giants fans should be watching Super Bowl LIV.
The 49ers picked up the fifth-year option on Armstead's rookie contract, and he balled out with double-digit sacks for the first time in his career. He had 10 sacks, 11 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles over 16 games.
Unlike those mentioned before, Armstead is massive at 6-foot-7, 290 pounds. He is a great force off the edge and has even spent time in the interior this season. Good dual threat to have on any line, especially at 27 years old next season.
Kyle Van Noy
Van Noy is a savvy veteran that has a connection to Giants new head coach Joe Judge after spending the past three and a half seasons with the Patriots.
Van Noy brings consistency as an outside linebacker, but also two Super Bowl rings with good production in the postseason. Most recently in 2018, he had three sacks, 16 tackles and a forced fumble while New England marched its way to another title.
Quinn will be over the hump at 30 years old when the 2020 season kicks off, but looking at his numbers, you wouldn't think so.
In his first year with the Cowboys this year, Quinn had 11.5 sacks, 13 tackles for loss, 22 quarterback hits, two forced fumbles and three passes defended. He looked like the Quinn from his St. Louis Rams days, when he had three seasons of double-digit sacks that included a 19-sack season in 2013.
The Giants would love to take away a playmaker from the Cowboys, and even though he's the Giants new offensive coordinator, Jason Garrett can certainly vouch for Quinn's efforts last season.