Grading the New York Giants’ 2024 Free Agent Signings So Far

The New York Giants lost important pieces in Saquon Barkley and Xavier McKinney, but they did a solid job at boosting the roster on the other end.
Jan 7, 2024; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers linebacker Brian Burns (0) during the
Jan 7, 2024; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers linebacker Brian Burns (0) during the / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The 2024 NFL free agency period was one of tough losses for the New York Giants, but also one of surprising gains as they look to reboot their roster for the upcoming season. 

After six and four years of serving as leaders on both sides of the ball, respectively, the Giants elected to move on from both running back Saquon Barkley and safety Xavier McKinney, two highly prized assets that found their new homes—and deals—in Philadelphia and Green Bay next fall.

The Giants believed it was better to part ways with two of their former draft selections instead of assigning the franchise tag or agreeing to long term deals for the sake of sparing cap space for more premium positions. Both were moves that garnered heavy debate amongst the Big Blue contingent, especially the Barkley breakup that saw a beloved player switch sides to a hated rival in the Eagles.

Giants Flip the Script

However, the Giants quickly flipped the script by bringing in a number of good free agent pieces that fit the true premium positions GM Joe Schoen had in mind. A heavy emphasis was made on sticking the offensive line that has been a travesty for years, but they also added some quality names on the offense and defense that impact the team’s success right away.

At the forefront of it all was the acquisition of outside linebacker Brian Burns from the Carolina Panthers. Traded for a second and fifth-round pick, which was less than the Panthers could have received for their stud pass rusher a year earlier, the Giants have landed themselves a defensive front that will cause a lot of problems for opposing offenses in 2024. 

Burns will line up alongside run stuffing All-Pro Dexter Lawrence and fellow edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux, flashing a pass rushing unit that had 19.5 combined sacks last season. Over the past four years, Burns has notched at least 50 tackles and 7.5 sacks (career high 12.5 in 2022), meaning he will be one of the most active players in the backfield throughout the league. 

The 25-year-old boasts amazing speed and swim moves off the snap which allows him to beat the opposing blocker and get to the ball carrier before the play even develops. He is also incredibly talented at picking off quick plays and was able to limit teams to 37 yards receiving in his presence, showing he is not someone who will allow the opposition to torch the next levels of the defense.

Beyond the acquisition of Burns, the Giants found some solid additions to help fortify their offensive line that has been more or less dreadful since 2012. They first partnered with former Packers guard Jon Runyan, who expects to compete for one of the open spots at the position. Then they welcomed former Raiders guard Jermaine Eluemenor, who figures to take some of his swing tackle experience into the scrum to compete with Evan Neal for the latter’s right side role. 

Statistically, Runyan was a stout pass blocker for the Packers and can help close up the gaping holes that have characterized the Giants’ guard positions amid injuries. The fourth-year man played in 905 total snaps for the Green Bay starting front in 2023 and allowed just two sacks and six quarterback hits in that entire span. He had some issues with penalties at a career-high six but if he cleans that up his numbers never go beyond 21 total pressures. 

On the other hand, Eluemenor had some trouble protecting the quarterback with his career-high six sacks allowed and 28 overall pressures. Yet, before that he was much more efficient as a pass block option and offers the veteran experience the Giants are lacking on that side of the football. He has played in at least 900 snaps in consecutive seasons, which has been an issue with Evan Neal in that timeframe. 

The replacement of Saquon Barkley with former Bills and Texans rusher Devin Singletary was an easy decision given the 26-year-old’s history with head coach Brian Daboll from his offensive coordinator days in Buffalo. Despite moving teams for the second time since 2022, Singletary has managed to collect at least 177 carries for 819 yards and four touchdowns and haul another 193 yards and two scores in the open field. He can feasibly bring what Barkley did for Big Blue if they can finally get their offensive line in check again. 

In terms of in-house reunions, the Giants resigned long snapper Casey Kreiter, wide receiver and kick returner Gunner Olszewski, linebacker Carter Coughlin, cornerback Nick McCloud, among others. They also added depth pieces for the defense, in particular Jalen Mills who has a history competing in the NFC East from his team with Philadelphia from 2016-2018.

Giants Free Agency Grade So Far: A-

Losing Barkley and McKinney will always be a blemish in this free agency cycle for the Giants, but Joe Schoen was able to take the financial resources recouped from their departures and immediately use them to tackle important holes on the roster. He didn’t spend a heavy chunk of the Giants’ change in phase one of the open market festivities and that will mean extra space to continue stocking those same positions in round two.

There is certainly more work to be done to strengthen certain areas, particularly the offensive line that was ranked 31st in the league in pass block win rate last fall and the secondary which is missing members, but the Giants are on the right path and it’s coming at a wise price. Not only that but Schoen has shown that he’s willing to still make the big splash if the player is right for their system and culture. 

Where the Giants go from here is a mystery as the draft looms large, but I’d be willing to hand the organization an A- grade for their free agency signings and transactions. It’s an important offseason and it’s nice to see things start on a positive note for Big Blue.

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