It turns out Dave Gettleman was willing to spend some of his newfound cap space after all. According to Ian Rapoport, the New York Giants have agreed to terms with defensive back Logan Ryan on a one-year, $7.5 million deal. The signing is unquestionably smart. It’s a cost-effective, low-commitment move that supplements a secondary in desperate need of depth. Ryan’s arrival was likely precipitated by the injury to rookie safety Xavier McKinney, as they’re similarly multi-purpose players. The ex-Tennessee Titan was one of the biggest names left in free agency, so it’s tempting to think New York just signed the antidote to their ailing secondary. But it’s important to note just what type of player Ryan is, and how exactly he’ll help this Giants defense.
Let’s start with the good. Ryan is an all-NFL level playmaker from the back end. Per Pro Football Focus, he led all cornerbacks last year in tackles, sacks, and tackles for loss. His 112 total tackles were linebacker-esque, which shows an incredible amount of activity for a defensive back, let alone a corner. Ryan was first among corners in quarterback hits last season with eight, and third in passes defended with 18. It’s that kind of versatility, aggressiveness, and nose-for-the-ball that was attractive to the Giants once McKinney went down. It’s also part of the reason Ryan was marketing himself as a potential safety for much of this offseason.
However, it’s not the only reason. Ryan also had his issues in coverage last season. Per Pro Football Focus, he led all corners last year in targets, catches allowed, and yards allowed. His completion percentage allowed of 66% and his quarterback rating against of 88.7 weren’t too bad, but it’s concerning he was targeted so heavily by opponents.
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It’s because of these recent coverage struggles that Ryan isn’t suited to fill the Giants most glaring weakness: outside cornerback. In his prime, Ryan was more of a slot corner anyways, even dating back to his New England Patriots days. Now that he’s lost a step, it would be especially unwise to just plug him in opposite James Bradberry and expect things to go smoothly. Ryan’s best role is as a slot/safety player, but the Giants were actually in decent shape at those positions, even after McKinney’s injury. Jabrill Peppers, Julian Love, and Darnay Holmes are all young, promising players who should get plenty of snaps.
Ever since DeAndre Baker‘s armed robbery arrest and Sam Beal‘s opt out, second outside cornerback has been the Giants most concerning spot. That doesn’t change with Ryan’s signing. Corey Ballentine, the unproven 2019 sixth-round pick, remains the unchallenged starter. If Ballentine flops, then at least Ryan can move outside and provide a base-line of competency as a proven veteran. But that’s more of a contingency plan than solution.
This defense is better now than it was, and Gettleman should be applauded for making such a savvy move this late in free agency. But the Giants secondary still has a major question mark that Ryan’s arrival doesn’t answer.