Pass rush will either be a team strength or a liability for the New York Giants in 2023. There’ll be no in between from a group of edge-rushers top heavy with marquee talent at the starter level, but thin on productive depth players, a problem the Giants can solve by signing a Super Bowl winner in NFL free agency.
Leonard Floyd is still on the market, and Heavy’s Senior NFL Reporter Matt Lombardo believes the Giants are among the best team fits for the 30-year-old. Floyd is still delivering pressure and sacks after notching nine quarterback takedowns for the Los Angeles Rams last season.
Those sacks weren’t enough to prevent Floyd from being a victim of the necessary purge by the salary cap-stretched Rams this offseason. Yet, Floyd’s numbers are just what the Giants need to add to a core position along the front seven, even after re-signing Jihad Ward and Oshane Ximines.
Giants Need Dependable, Productive Pass-Rusher
Floyd’s nine sacks easily outpaced the five Ward and Ximines combined to record. They also proved Floyd can still win consistently off the edge even as he enters his eighth season in the pros.
The proof of Floyd’s enduring ability to wreck offenses was obvious when he got to Aaron Rodgers twice against the Green Bay Packers in Week 14.
Floyd won with a power rush to notch this sack, but he can still beat offensive tackles with speed. The former ninth-overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft by the Chicago Bears is also versatile enough to line up on either side of the line and attack the pocket.
Those qualities helped Floyd register 31 pressures, including 11 hurries and as many QB knockdowns in 2022, per Pro Football Reference. The same source also noted Floyd has been blitzed 121 times the last two seasons, so he’d fit right in with the pressure-heavy schemes of Giants’ defensive coordinator Don ‘Wink’ Martindale, whose unit led the NFL with a 39.7 blitz percentage in 2022.
As well as numbers, Floyd would offer the Giants durability. Lombardo noted how Floyd “has been able to stay healthy and on the field, appearing in every game since 2017.”
Signing Floyd on a team-friendly, one-year deal would give the Giants a dependable veteran who’d prevent an over-reliance on starters Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari.
Giants Must Avoid Over-Reliance on Starters
Thibodeaux showed signs of dominance as a rookie, while Ojulari can be a force when healthy. The latter lost 10 games to calf and ankle injuries last season but still managed to log 5.5 sacks.
A tandem of Ojulari and Thibodeaux will be key to the success of the Giants’ defense this year, but the plan will falter if either is injured for a prolonged period of time. That’s not an unlikely what-if scenario after the pair missed 13 games in 2022.
Further absences for either would leave Martindale relying on Ward and Ximines for a similar level of impact. The depth chart needs some more star power, despite undrafted free agent Habakkuk Baldonado having the raw skills to make the roster and contribute.
Adding Floyd to the mix would give Martindale a third edge-rusher with a proven track record for success and ample postseason experience. Those things are worth general manager Joe Schoen finding some room among the Giants’ remaining $999,547 worth of cap space.
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