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.
Next on the docket is Buffalo Bills linebacker Matt Milano.
Buffalo selected Milano in the fifth round of the 2017 draft. After being a reserve his rookie year, he started the last three seasons. He missed 10 games over that time with injury, so durability is a slight concern. His best season came in 2019, when he started 15 games and registered 101 tackles. The Boston College product’s strongest trait is his coverage, as he hasn’t allowed a passer rating over 95 when targeted in any season. His nine passes defended in 2019 is impressive for an off-ball linebacker. Milano doesn’t play the run especially well. At six feet and 223 pounds, he’s slightly undersized for the position. His 16.4 missed tackle percentage over the last three years is a bit concerning. Pro Football Focus hasn’t evaluated him too kindly, as they’ve given him a combined 64.4 grade for his career so far.
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Milano makes for an ideal fit in defensive coordinator Patrick Graham’s 3-4 scheme. His range and coverage chops would perfectly complement Blake Martinez‘s run-stuffing, downhill style. Milano’s ability to stick with tight ends and running backs would allow to New York to stay in base defense on early downs while trusting their coverage on play-action. The Giants can accept Milano’s sub-par run defense given that’s Martinez’s forte anyways. Plus, Milano would likely improve in that department playing behind Big Blue’s stout, space-eating defensive line.
Spotrac estimates for Milano to garner a $13.8 million average annual salary on the open market. That would make him easily one of the top-ten highest paid inside linebackers in football. In an increasingly pass-happy NFL, linebackers with his coverage ability are coveted, so that type of money makes sense. The Giants could certainly fit him under their cap if they wanted, although they’d be hamstrung if they tried to make another splash in free agency.
Should the Giants be Interested?
Not especially, but they should keep an eye on how his market develops just in case. New York invested pretty heavily in Martinez last offseason, so they won’t want to overspend at a relatively low-value position by signing another high-priced inside linebacker this year. But if for whatever reason (a suppressed salary cap, injury concerns, etc.) Milano isn’t garnering the big-money, multi-year offers he’s looking for, Big Blue should be more than willing to swoop in and nab him for a discount. His harmonious fit in the Giants’ defense would be well worth a one-year prove-it deal.