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3 players New York Giants could sign with Darren Waller’s retirement money

New York Giants
Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

After months of speculation, Darren Waller made it official on Sunday when he informed the New York Giants that he’s retiring from the NFL.

New York acquired Waller via trade with the Las Vegas Raiders in March of 2023 in exchange for a third-round pick (100th overall) which the team acquired when they traded Kadarius Toney to the Kansas City Chiefs.

In his only season in New York, the 31-year-old tight end missed five games due to a hamstring injury and finished the season with 52 receptions for 552 yards and a touchdown.

The benefit of Waller retiring is the team will now have an additional $11.6 million in cap space. General manager Joe Schoen will not sit on the additional cap space as he will look to add one or two veterans to have a pivotal role with the team.

Here’s a look at three players who could be on the team’s radar.

Related: NFL QB Rankings 2024: Where is Daniel Jones?

Stephon Gilmore, cornerback

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at New York Giants
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

New York has a young secondary and at this time it’s unknown who will start at the corner opposite Deonte Banks. This is why there’s speculation that the team might be interested in Stephon Gilmore.

Gilmore is the best free agent corner on the market and has a ton of experience having played 12 seasons in the NFL and was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2019.

Although he’ll turn 34 in September, Gilmore played at a high level for the Cowboys in 2023. He started 17 games last season and had 54 tackles, 13 passes defended, two interceptions and one forced fumble. Signing him to a one-year deal would make sense if there’s interest on both sides.

Related: 5 bold predictions for the New York Giants 2024 Draft class

J.C. Jackson, cornerback

Dec 3, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson (29) reacts after his play against the Los Angeles Chargers in the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

For the same reasons why Gilmore could be on New York’s radar, the same can be said for J.C. Jackson. Jackson went undrafted in the 2018 draft but was eventually signed by the New England Patriots.

He appeared in 13 games as a rookie and was credited with 24 tackles, six passes defense, and three interceptions. He remained with the Patriots through the 2021 season, before signing with the Chargers in March of 2022, and then in October of 2023, the Chargers traded Jackson back to New England. The reunion would not last long as the Patriots released Jackson in March of this year.

In his seven seasons in the league, he has 26 interceptions with 64 passes defended. He’ll turn 29 in November which means he could be in the Giants plans for 2024 and beyond.

Related: 4 things we learned about the New York Giants during the 2024 NFL Draft

Justin Simmons, safety

Sep 10, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos safety Justin Simmons (31) reacts to a turnover in the third quarter against the Las Vegas Raiders at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a mystery that a player the caliber of Justin Simmons is still a free agent this deep into the offseason. But with the additional cap space, this could be what Joe Schoen needs to lure the two-time Pro Bowl free safety to sign with New York.

Simmons was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft (98th overall) and has played all eight of his seasons in the mile-high city.

For his career, he has 603 tackles to go along with his 30 interceptions and was voted Second-Team All-Pro four times by the Associated Press (2019, 2021-2023).

But the Broncos waived the 30-year-old safety in March to save cap space and you have to figure he’ll be looking to sign with a team before teams report to training camp. Simmons has had at least three interceptions in six consecutive seasons and the possibility of pairing him with rookie Tyler Nubin could make them one of the best ball-hawking safety tandems in the league.

Even with the additional cap space, signing Simmons will not be easy. But general managers are paid to find ways to maneuver and work around the cap to improve their team. Signing Simmons may not address a position of need, but it would be a huge upgrade to the roster, enhancing their chances of rebounding from last season’s disappointing 6-11 record.

Related: 5 New York Giants with the most to prove in 2024, including Daniel Jones and Brian Burns

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