- The conventional wisdom is that the Giants are 100 percent committed to Eli Manning as their starter in 2019, and quite possibly beyond. But in a recent piece, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com argues that Daniel Jones could be given the chance to supplant Manning before the season even begins. That would be in direct contrast with Giants brass’ stated intentions to sit and develop the sixth overall pick, but crazier things have happened. Florio writes that the “team’s hope that this happens could be hiding in plain sight,” referring to the potential for Jones to shine during training camp and the preseason and force them into playing him right away. It’s still very unlikely to happen, but it’s possible Manning’s place atop the depth chart isn’t quite as secure as everyone is assuming.
A key Giants lineman is out until at least training camp. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo report that offensive tackle Nate Solder recently underwent arthroscopic surgery to clean out his ankle (via NFL.com’s Herbie Teope). The veteran had previously been dealing with bone spurs.
Fortunately for the Giants, Solder’s surgery wasn’t considered “major.” Rather, the lineman should be recovered by late July or early August. Of course, a setback means that the recovery time could bleed into the preseason. This isn’t ideal for an offensive line that allowed 47 sacks last season, regardless if the team has veteran Eli Manning or rookie Daniel Jones under center.
The former first-rounder joined the Giants last offseason after spending the first seven seasons of his career with the Patriots. His new four-year, $62 million contract ($35MM guaranteed) made him the NFL’s highest-paid lineman at the time, and Solder proceeded to award the team’s investment by starting all 16 games in 2018. Pro Football Focus ultimately ranked Solder 21st among 80 eligible offensive tackles.
If Solder were to miss considerable time, the Giants could turn to Brian Mihalik or Jylan Ware, or they could consider swapping right tackle Chad Wheeler to the left side of the offensive line. The coaching staff could even give a look at seventh-rounder George Asafo-Adjei.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Giants have signed sixth-round cornerback Corey Ballentine, according to a team announcement. Ballentine was shot in a tragic event that took the life of his friend and teammate on the night he was drafted, but he is expected to play at some point in the future.
The Washburn University product is still recovering from the incident, both physically and mentally. The Giants instructed him to stay home for the early portion of the team’s workouts, but he’s now on hand to observe the second phase of the offseason program. He should be cleared to participate at some point this offseason, but there’s no definitive timetable yet.
Ballentine was one of three cornerbacks drafted by the Giants this year, along with Georgia’s Deandre Baker (first round) and Notre Dame’s Julian Love (fourth round). Love has signed, but Baker is one of the Giants’ four remaining unsigned selections.
In accordance with his slot, Ballentine will earn $2.7MM over the course of his four-year deal.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
- Cowboys seventh-round running back Mike Weber injured his knee over the weekend, but it appears he avoided a serious setback. Weber went through an MRI but was back on the practice field Sunday, per Breer. Weber is expected to compete for time behind Ezekiel Elliott and fourth-round pick Tony Pollard, with Weber profiling as more of a traditional back compared to the versatile Pollard. The Cowboys lost previous Elliott backup Rod Smith to the Giants in free agency.
- Mike Remmers will not have a free pass to the Giants’ starting lineup. Offensive line coach Hal Hunter named incumbent Chad Wheeler the first-string right tackle last week, but that was before Remmers was signed. “It is up to (Wheeler) to hold that position,” Hunter said, via Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com. “It is up to everyone else to beat him out.” Remmers’ contract (one year, $2.5MM), history (64 starts) and connections to Dave Gettleman and Pat Shurmur would point to him having the upper hand. Wheeler took over for Ereck Flowers early last season and graded as Pro Football Focus’ third-worst full-time tackle. The Giants were connected to multiple free agent right tackles this offseason.
Nearly two months after Greg Schiano backtracked on his commitment to become the Patriots’ defensive coordinator, the job remains unfilled. Should it stay vacant, the Pats would have a fairly reliable contingency plan.
With Bill Belichick towering over his defensive staff in terms of NFL experience, the current expectation is he will call defensive plays for the Patriots this season, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe notes.
Ceding that responsibility to Matt Patricia and Brian Flores for the past several years, Belichick obviously played a key role in the Pats’ defense. Belichick would often determine when Patricia or Flores would call blitzes, Volin adds. The eight-time Super Bowl champion, counting his two as Giants DC, is coming off perhaps the Super Bowl’s defensive masterpiece — the Rams’ three-point night — and his teams have fielded a top-10 scoring defense 15 times in his 19-year New England tenure.
However, Belichick in a dual role is not the Pats’ official plan just yet. They will use the OTAs and minicamp period to determine their strategy here, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com notes (video link). Flores’ exit leaves the Patriots light on experience among their defensive staff, with former Wisconsin and Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema — previously viewed as a DC option — bringing the most seasoning. And most of that came in college.
After a year of consulting with the team, Bielema is slated to coach New England’s defensive line. Jerod Mayo, whom Garafolo adds is viewed as a possible future defensive coordinator, will split linebackers coaching duties with DeMarcus Covington — with Mayo working with the inside ‘backers and Covington assigned to help the outside players. Mike Pellegrino will oversee the cornerbacks, the team announced. Mayo, Covington and Pellegrino will be first-year position coaches.
Barring an outside hire, or the Patriots handing the reins to Bielema, Belichick would seem the logical choice to play the lead role on defense.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Here’s the latest round of minor moves from around the NFL (for this morning’s minor moves, click here):
- Waived: TE Thomas Duarte
Green Bay Packers
- Claimed off waivers: DB Mike Tyson (from Texans)
New England Patriots
New York Giants
- Signed: DL Freedom Akinmoladun
- Signed: QB Devlin Hodges, DT Greg Gilmore, WR Johnny Holton, DE Henry Mondeaux, OL Damian Prince, LB Tuzar Skipper
- Released: LB Keion Adams, DE Jay Hayes, DT Chris Nelson, OL R.J. Prince, QB Brogan Roback, WR Ka’Raun White
New Orleans Saints
- Signed: FB Michael Burton, DL Geneo Grissom, OL Marcus Henry, OL Ulrick John, LB Colton Jumper, RB A.J. Ouellette, CB David Simmons Jr., WR Micah Wright
- Released: RB Darnell Holland, DT Tomasi Laulile, CB Darius Williams
- Signed: DB Kareem Orr, WR Joe Parker, DB D’Andre Payne, DB LaDarius Riley
- Waived: DB Jonathan Crawford, DB Taj-Amir Torres, WR Isaac Zito
- Waived-injured: DB Hamp Cheevers
We’ll keep track of today’s lower round draft pick signings here:
- The Lions inked fourth-round defensive end Austin Bryant, sixth-round running back Ty Johnson, seventh-round tight end Isaac Nauta, and seventh-round defensive tackle P.J. Johnson. Bryant, a Clemson product, is a pass rush specialist who routinely used his length to get to the quarterback. He put himself on the map with 8.5 sacks as a junior and followed that up with another eight sacks as a senior. There are questions about whether his pass-rush ability is enough to offset his deficiencies against the run, but the Lions were more than happy to take a chance on him in the fourth round.
- The Colts signed fourth-round safety Khari Willis and fifth-round defensive back Marvell Tell III. Willis was one of Michigan’s top high school players as a running back, but found his calling in the secondary at Michigan State. Tell, meanwhile, made three interceptions as USC’s starting free safety last year.
- The Giants signed a pair of fifth-round picks: wide receiver Darius Slayton and linebacker Ryan Connelly. The Giants still have a lot of work ahead for them in signing their draft class, including first-round picks Daniel Jones and Dexter Lawrence.
We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves here:
- Signed: QB Jalan McClendon, G Patrick Vahe
- Signed: S Abraham Wallace, OL Garrett McGhin, DT Quindarius Thagard
- Released: TE Jake Fisher, RB Keith Ford
- Bears Signed: WR Jesper Horsted
- Waived: G Tommy Doles
- Signed: TE Bug Howard, OL Nathan Jacobson, DL Deyon Sizer, DL DeShawn Williams
- Released: TE Temarrick Hemingway, DL Caushaud Lyons, OL Brian Wallace, DL Jaylen Johnson
New York Giants
- Re-Signed: DL John Jenkins
- Waived: RB Nico Evans, QB Luis Perez
- The Giants plan on Eli Manning being their starter in 2019, they’ve made that very clear. But if he were thrust into action, New York’s coaching staff is already confident that sixth overall pick Daniel Jones would be ready to go from day one. “I think he’d be ready to go, that’s my personal opinion,” Giants offensive coordinator Mike Shula said when asked if Jones could be an instant starter in the league, per Tom Rock of Newsday. “I think he has that capability.” Defensive coordinator James Bettcher also had high praise for the rookie signal-caller after watching him take part in rookie minicamp. The selection of Jones was widely criticized as a reach, but the Giants’ coaching staff seems quite happy with their pick, for now.
- Speaking of the Giants, the team signed offensive lineman Mike Remmers earlier today, and now we have details on the contract. It’s a one-year deal with a base value of $2.5MM, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). If he meets some play-time incentives, the value of the deal can increase to $4MM. Remmers started all 16 games at right guard for the Vikings last year, but his agent confirmed the Giants will be moving him back to right tackle, his original position. The Giants have put an emphasis on rebuilding their offensive line, and as of right now it looks like Remmers will be a starter on the outside opposite Nate Solder.