The New York Giants shocked a lot of people with their performance during the 2022 season. They overachieved in a big way, blowing by even the most optimistic of expectations. New York went 9-7-1 in the regular season and even won a playoff game, defeating the Minnesota Vikings during Super Wild Card Weekend.
But, there is plenty more work to do. That was evident by how easily the Philadelphia Eagles steamrolled over them in their Divisional Round matchup. This offseason will be time for general manager Joe Schoen to shine as the Giants are projected to have a ton of cap space to spend.
A majority of that space will likely go toward keeping Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley, but other needs are present on the roster. Schoen should be able to fill some of them in addition to keeping key players such as Julian Love, Jihad Ward and Darius Slayton with Jones and Barkley.
Who could be the team’s targets in free agency? Here are three players that the Giants should pursue this offseason.
3. G Wes Schweitzer
The Giants have a star at left tackle in Andrew Thomas, who has developed nicely during his three seasons in the NFL. It will be a no-brainer decision to exercise the fifth-year option on his rookie contract. The team is hoping Evan Neal, the No. 7 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, follows a similar development path.
While those two should bookend and anchor the offensive line for years to come, the interior of the line is still messy. Jon Feliciano and Nick Gates are both hitting free agency and could be brought back. But, if upgrades are present, those should be explored.
One player who would fit the bill is Wes Schweitzer. He would help stabilize the interior of the Giants’ offensive line which allowed 114 of the 212 pressure on the season. The unit never rose above 27th in PFF’s offensive line rankings. Schweitzer would not only help change that, but the Giants would be weakening a divisional opponent, signing him away from the Washington Commanders.
2. WR JuJu Smith-Schuster
There may not be a team in the NFL that needs wide receiver help as much as the Giants. Darius Slayton, who led the team in yardage, and Richie James Jr., who tied for the team lead in receptions, are both set to hit free agency. As is Sterling Shepard, whose season ended early again because of injury.
Upgrading this unit is a must to truly get the most out of Daniel Jones. New York could look to trade for a veteran such as DeAndre Hopkins or Tee Higgins, as free agency has slim pickings. The closest they can get to a No. 1 in free agency is JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Smith-Schuster had a nice bounceback with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2022 and is primed to sign a multi-year deal. He is a physical pass catcher with after-the-catch skills that isn’t afraid to work in the middle of the field. Excelling on short and intermediate routes, Smith-Schuster is also an elite run blocker, something the Giants ask their wide receivers to do a lot.
1. LB David Long Jr.
The Giants’ defense had some stellar performances during the 2022 season under Wink Martindale. When healthy, they executed his system to perfection. When injuries hit, there were certainly some holes as depth is an issue for the team.
But, for this defense to get to that next level, they need to find an impact linebacker. David Long Jr. of the Tennessee Titans could fill that void. Long fits the bill as an opportunistic pass rusher, garnering 18 pressures on only 47 pass rushes in 2022.
Most importantly, he is elite against the run. Long had an 89 grade in run defense last season, which was sixth among off-ball linebackers, and an overall grade of 76.2. The Giants were abysmal stopping the run last season and need to upgrade at linebacker. Long would be a huge addition in that regard as New York’s off-ball linebackers garnered a grade of 35.2 last season.