The New York Giants are set to embark on their most important offseason in recent memory. The decisions made by general manager Dave Gettleman this spring will be critical in determining whether Big Blue can continue confidently on their current path, or if they’ll have to press the reset button once again. With that in mind, let’s examine the potential free agents that could propel this team to playoff contention.
Today, let’s go over Seattle Seahawks cornerback Shaquill Griffin.
Griffin is a 2017 third-round draft pick by Seattle. He started at corner in each of his first four NFL seasons, including a Pro Bowl campaign in 2019. He’s compiled six career interceptions, with three coming last year. The Central Florida product has finished with double-digit passes defended in three of his four years. At 25-years old, he’s an established, solid, starting-level cover-man. His 2020 numbers (62.1 completion percentage against, 93.3 passer rating against, 11.9 yards per catch allowed) are all decent, if unspectacular.
The six-foot, 198-pound Griffin perfectly fits Seattle’s famed cover-3 zone scheme. His size, length, and straight-line explosiveness allow him to jam receivers at the line while still staying on top of deep routes. Big Blue defensive coordinator Patrick Graham employed plenty of cover-3 looks last year, so Griffin should ostensibly work well in his scheme.
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However, Graham favored a lot more man-coverage while with the Miami Dolphins in 2019. Presumably, he had to use more zone in New York due to the limitations of his personnel. If Graham wants go back to his man-heavy ways in 2021, then Griffin’s lack of high-end agility would make him a less than ideal fit. But if Graham wants to continue using a good amount of zone, then Griffin would slide in nicely.
Spotrac approximates Griffin’s market value at $11 million per year. That feels about right for a good-but-not-great starting corner in the NFL. If he gets that contract on the open market, he would tie Joe Haden as the 15th-highest paid cornerback in football. Griffin probably isn’t the 15th-best corner in football, but free-agent coverage players in the prime of their careers always fetch a premium. The Giants should have no problem fitting him under the salary cap, but depending on what they do with their own upcoming free agents, they likely wouldn’t be able to make any other significant signings.
Should the Giants be Interested?
Sure, depending on the rest of their offseason plan. Wide receiver is still New York’s most pressing need, but they may not like their options there in free agency, preferring to address it in the draft. A second cornerback alongside James Bradberry is the Giants’ biggest hole on defense, and Griffin would fill it more than capably. Again, his signing would necessitate Graham using a lot more cover-3. Considering how well New York’s secondary executed that scheme last year, that shouldn’t be an issue.