Mark Herzlich

Giants Lock In 53-Man Roster

The Giants will head into the 2018 season without one of their longest-tenured players and one of their 2017 starting safeties, with both Mark Herzlich and Darian Thompson failing to make the team.

A 2017 fifth-round pick, edge defender Avery Moss missed out as well. As did Roger Lewis, a wideout who became needed when the Giants became decimated at receiver last season.

The Giants also released recently signed cornerback Leonard Johnson, who was trying to make a fifth NFL franchise’s 53-man roster. The former Buccaneer, Patriot, Panther and Bill started seven games with Buffalo last season.

Here’s the full list of Giants cuts:

Released:

Waived:

Waived with an injury designation

Placed on IR:

Placed on Reserve/NFI list:

  • DL R.J. McIntosh

Suspended:

Giants Release LB Mark Herzlich

The Giants are moving on from one of their longest-tenured players. Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com reports that the organization is releasing linebacker Mark Herzlich.

The 31-year-old joined the Giants as an undrafted free agent out of Boston College back in 2011, and he’s spent the past eight seasons with the organization. Serving mostly as a backup linebacker and special teamer, Herzlich has managed to put up some solid numbers throughout his career, including a 52-tackle campaign back in 2014.

However, the veteran spent the entire 2017 campaign on the injured reserve. During his last healthy season in 2016, he saw a reduced role, compiling only seven tackles in 14 games. It’s uncertain if another team will be willing to take a gamble on the linebacker at this stage of his career.

With the move, the Giants now have only three inside linebackers on their roster: B.J. GoodsonAlec Ogletree, and Ray-Ray Armstrong.

Contract Details: Brees, Butler, T. Johnson

Let’s take a look at the details from the latest contracts signed in the NFL, with all links going to Twitter unless otherwise noted:

Minor NFL Transactions: 3/12/18

We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here:

New York Giants

Los Angeles Chargers

Oakland Raiders

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants Down To 53

The Giants are all kosher. Here’s the full rundown of their cuts and moves to get to 53:

Cut:

Placed on IR:

Giants To Place Mark Herzlich On IR

The Giants are planning to place linebacker Mark Herzlich on injured reserve, Josina Anderson of ESPN.com tweets.Mark Herzlich (vertical)

Herzlich has been a reserve linebacker and special teamer for the G-Men for the past six seasons. This year, he changed his jersey number from 94 to 44 so that can appear eligible on offensive plays, but we won’t get to see him line up as a fullback/tight end this year.

The exact nature of his injury is presently unclear. Herzlich has been sidelined as of late with what was initially diagnosed as a stinger in his neck. Apparently, it’s something more serious.

Herzlich celebrated his 30th birthday on Friday.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Rumors: Pats, Blount, Pugh, Mangold

The Patriots could offer a tender to free agent running back LeGarrette Blount in an attempt to retain him for the 2017 season, as Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap details (Twitter links). Unrestricted free agents that aren’t signed by May 9 are eligible to be tendered a one-year contract by the player’s original club for 110% of his prior year salary (for Blount, that would amount to roughly $1.1MM). Not only would such a maneuver allow New England to be in line for a 2018 compensatory pick if Blount signs elsewhere, but it would give the Patriots exclusive negotiating rights with the veteran back if he doesn’t land a contract by July 22. This option isn’t exclusive to New England — any team can do this with its unsigned UFAs — but Fitzgerald notes that such a move would be a typical Patriots strategy.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two East divisions:

  • After playing out his fifth-year option in 2017, Giants guard Justin Pugh will become a free agent next spring, and he’s aware of the rising price tags for interior offensive linemen. “The guard market has gone up,” said Pugh, according to Dan Duggan of NJ.com. “Do you even know who some of those guys are that were getting paid? I feel good about where I’m at.” New York is reportedly interested in signing Pugh to an extension, but the 26-year-old will likely have expensive demands after grading out as the No. 16 guard in the league last season, per Pro Football Focus. Kevin Zeitler reset the guard market this offseason after inking a deal with Cleveland that pays him $12MM annually.
  • Free agent center Nick Mangold confirmed previous reports that the Jets didn’t make a real effort to keep him on the roster at a lower price before releasing him outright (Twitter links via SiriusXM NFL Radio). Mangold, 33, was later asked about the possibility of joining the Patriots and quipped Bill Belichick isn’t overly fond of him after the pair’s “battles” in the AFC East. On Monday, Mangold indicated he is still working to get back to full health and didn’t rule out the possibility of retiring. Recently, PFR listed Mangold as a potential external option for the Saints if they need a fill-in for injured center Max Unger.
  • Giants linebacker Mark Herzlich is changing his jersey number from 94 to 44 so that can appear eligible on offensive plays, as Tom Rock of Newsday writes. While Herzlich didn’t identify which offensive position he’ll be playing, tight end and/or fullback would seem to make the most sense. Herzlich has played tight end on New York’s scout team, per Rock, but otherwise hasn’t seen time on offense since high school.

Giants Re-Sign Mark Herzlich

For the third time in four years, the Giants reached an agreement to bring back Mark Herzlich. The Giants re-signed the reserve linebacker and special-teamer today, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv reports (on Twitter).

A former UDFA, Herzlich has spent six seasons with the Giants. Last year, though, marked the only one that did not feature at least two Herzlich starts. The inspirational cancer survivor functioned strictly as a backup and special teams presence in the 14 games for which he was active during the 2016 regular season.

The Giants re-upped Herzlich on a two-year deal in 2015 and kept him on a one-year accord in 2014. The 29-year-old recovered a fumble last season but has been credited with just 17 tackles the past two years. He made 52 in 2014, which featured a career-high eight starts.

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: L. Williams, Giants, Zumwalt

Jets defensive lineman Leonard Williams was one of the more impressive rookies in the league in 2015, and with a full professional season under his belt, he says he is ready to take his game to the next level. Said Williams, “I know the playbook now, so I don’t have to think as much when I’m out there, I can just play. It’s less pressure now that I’m not a rookie anymore, and I don’t have to have that tag or label on me. It’s just been more comfortable overall this year” (article via Kaylee Pofahl of The New York Post).

After racking up 63 tackles and three sacks last season, Williams indicated that he has put a special emphasis on his pass rush during offseason workouts in an effort to become a more complete player. As Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com writes, Williams and defensive line cohort Sheldon Richardson are two big reasons why New York has not made more of an effort to sign Muhammad Wilkerson to a long-term deal.

Now let’s take a look at some more links from around the league:

  • Mark Herzlich, despite being a former undrafted free agent who is neither a star nor a starter, has defied the odds and has played five seasons in the NFL, all with the Giants, with season number six right around the corner. He is by all accounts a good person whose battle with cancer has been inspirational and, thus far, successful, but his on-field contributions have been fairly limited. However, even though one of Herzlich’s biggest fans in former head coach Tom Coughlin is gone, he still has plenty of supporters, including team president and co-owner John Mara. As Paul Schwartz of The New York Post writes, Herzlich has simply made himself exceedingly popular both on and off the field, and therefore difficult to cut. There is something to be said for positive influences in a locker room, and Herzlich’s contributions in that regard have allowed him to carve out a surprising NFL career.
  • Giants wide receiver Roger Lewis, who signed with the club as a UDFA this year, was charged with two counts of raping a girl, with whom he had prior sexual relations, when he was 18. He ultimately was acquitted of one of the charges and pleaded down another for an admission he lied to police during the investigation, and he now has the opportunity to live out his NFL dream, despite not hearing his name called on draft weekend. He has draft-worthy ability, but teams likely shied away from him as a result of the not-too-distant criminal charges, as Matt Schneldman of The New York Post writes. As a UDFA on a team loaded with wide receiver talent, Lewis has a major uphill battle to make Big Blue’s roster, but at this point he is playing with house money and is simply grateful for the chance to play and to further remove himself from his troubled past. He has shown flashes in offseason workouts and could get a chance with another club if he is unable to land a spot with the Giants.
  • Jordan Zumwalt, the Steelers‘ sixth-round pick in 2014, spent the 2014 and 2015 seasons on injured reserve with a hip injury, and the hip surgery that ended his 2015 campaign before it started took over five hours to complete and included a brutal recovery/rehabilitation period. Now hopefully healthy, Zumwalt has been working exclusively at inside linebacker in offseason workouts, as Ray Fittipaldo of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes, and he still has a chance to make the club in that role as the Steelers seek to replace Sean Spence and Terence Garvin. The odds, however, remain stacked against him.
  • Roy Cummings of The Tampa Tribune looks at five veteran Buccaneers who could be on the roster bubble, a list headlined by tight end Brandon Myers and right tackle Gosder Cherilus.

Giants’ Justin Currie Fractures Ankle

Giants rookie safety Justin Currie fractured his right ankle during the team’s game Saturday against Jacksonville, according to ESPN’s Dan Graziano (Twitter link). Currie will miss the season as a result, Paul Schwartz of the New York Post tweeted.

Currie signed with the Giants as an undrafted free agent out of Western Michigan in May, but the team cut him in July before signing him yet again a week later. He’s the latest first-year Giants safety to suffer an injury this summer, joining Mykkele Thompson (torn Achilles) and Landon Collins (sprained MCL).

In his first NFL action, an Aug. 14 preseason loss to Cincinnati, Currie led the Giants with 50 snaps (41 on defense, nine on special teams), according to James Kratch of NJ.com.

In addition to Currie, the Giants also lost two other defenders – linebackers Jon Beason (sprained left knee) and Mark Herzlich (concussion) – to injuries against the Jaguars. It’s currently unknown how much time, if any, the two will miss.