By MIKE FERKO
On the morning of March 9th, many Giants fans were anxious to know what the team’s front office would do this off season. Little did they know, the Big Blue defense would be enormously better on paper by sunset than it was at sunrise.
The New York Giants were in dire need of making defensive upgrades this off season. The defense was ignominious last season; out of all NFL teams, they surrendered the most average yards per game, gave up the third most points per game, and also allowed the third most points overall. It did not help the cause that star defensive tackle Jason Pierre-Paul injured his hand in a freak 4th of July fireworks accident, resulting in the loss of his index finger and the tip of his thumb, along with a long stint on the disabled list. Suffice it to say, a defensive upgrade or two were needed.
That’s when the Giants front office, led by general manager Jerry Reese, acted. The first day of free agency for the Giants resulted in a new corner back, took a defensive tackle from one New York team to another, and a defensive end who is now the second highest paid at his position.
The first signing was Janoris Jenkins, a cornerback who has spent his last four years with the St. Louis Rams (who recently relocated to Los Angeles). Jenkins is one of the best play makers in the secondary, including 64 tackles, 3 interceptions, and a forced fumble last year. Jenkins will be donning Giants blue as a corner back, behind corner back along with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie who put up great numbers last year. Jenkins will serve nicely as a replacement for Prince Amukamara, who recently signed with the Jaguars.
The Giants also signed former Jets defensive tackle Damon Harrison to a five-year, $46.25 million dollar deal. Harrison will fit in nicely to a Giants defensive line that has struggled mightily in the past couple of years, especially due to the absence of Jason-Pierre Paul for most of the year last year. Giants coaches and fans are hoping for five years of a hard hitting, successful defensive tackle who decided to change from Jets green to Giants blue.
The biggest signing of the day was for defensive end Oliver Vernon. This five-year, $85 million dollar deal makes Vernon the second highest paid defensive end in the NFL, according to spotrac.com. Last year, Vernon had 61 tackles with the Miami Dolphins, along with 7.5 sacks. These stats are eye candy for the G-men due to their terrible pass-rush defense. Vernon will now join Harrison and Pierre-Paul on this emerging defensive line.
The fact that these three signings occurred in one day is overwhelming to Giants fans, who are now yearning for the season to begin. Expect to see a much more improved Giants defense this year, along with a strong offense led by quarterback Eli Manning and go-to wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.