Games are never won on paper. But if you look at the current New York Giants roster, it’s better than last year’s team that went 9-7-1 and won their first playoff game since Super Bowl XLVI. On paper.
The improvement is thanks to their second-year general manager Joe Schoen who has been aggressive and shrewd the entire offseason while upgrading the roster. There’s still more work that needs to be done before the start of the season. However, it appears the team is poised to improve on their record from a year ago.
We’ll begin to find out how these moves will pan out when the season begins. But for right now we’ll take a look at the top five moves that Schoen has made this offseason.
Trading for Darren Waller
It was imperative that the Giants get a true No. 1 receiving threat for Daniel Jones. Schoen accomplished this task by trading for tight end Darren Waller. All the 43-year-old general manager had to give up to acquire the star pass-catcher was a third-round pick (100th overall) to the Las Vegas Raiders.
The 30-year-old Waller has two 1,000-yard receiving seasons on his resume and was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2020. The only knock on him is his ability to stay on the field, as he’s missed 14 games over the last two seasons.
When healthy, he’s one of the best tight ends in the league and will be the focal point of New York’s passing game. If he can stay healthy for all 17 games, Waller could become the first Giants player since Odell Beckham Jr. in 2018 to have 1,000 receiving yards and would surely help maximize Jones’ potential.
Signing free agent linebacker Bobby Okereke
Stopping the run has been an ongoing issue for the Giants for the past several years. In 2022, Wink Martindale’s unit gave up an average of 144.2 yards per game on the ground, which was 27th in the league. Then in their 38-7 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, the G-Men surrendered an embarrassing 268 yards on the ground.
It goes without saying that the team needed a run-stopper at the linebacker position. So in one of the first moves this offseason, the team signed free agent Bobby Okereke to a four-year deal worth $40 million.
Okereke spent his first four seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, amassing 420 tackles, four forced fumbles, three interceptions, and two sacks. His most productive season came last year when he set a career-high in tackles with 151.
In three out of his four seasons with the Colts, he played a predominant role in the unit having a top-10 run defense. Now the 26-year-old linebacker will look to do the same with his new team.
Trading up to draft Jalin Hyatt
Having a deep threat has been sorely missing from New York’s passing game for many years. Fortunately for Big Blue, one of the best deep threats in this year’s draft, Jalin Hyatt, was still available in the third round.
The Giants were sitting with the 89th overall pick, but fearing he would be off the board, the crafty Schoen traded away that selection along with the 128th pick to the Los Angles Rams to move up to 73 to take the speedy Tennessee receiver.
Being to be able to get a player of the caliber of Hyatt might prove to be one of the best value picks of the 2023 NFL Draft. He averaged 18.9 yards per reception in his final year in college, and his big play ability will make New York’s offense more dynamic.
Signing Daniel Jones to a new contract
Entering the offseason, everyone knew that Daniel Jones would be the quarterback of the Giants in 2023. The only question was whether he would get a contract extension, or the franchise tag.
Just before the deadline when teams have to designate their franchise tag, the team was able to come to an agreement with their 25-year-old quarterback on a four-year $160 million deal. The deal not only locked Jones under center for the next few years, but it allowed them to designate the franchise tag to Saquon Barkley. Barkley has yet to sign the tag as he and his team will look to get a deal done by July 17, but by coming to terms with Jones, it assures the team will have its two best offensive weapons this season.
Jones is coming off the best season of his career, and if he can continue to progress under head coach Brian Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, the team has a promising future ahead of them.
Reaching an extension Dexter Lawrence
Dexter Lawrence proved last season that he’s one of the best defensive linemen in the league. He set career highs in tackles (68), sacks (7.5), and was selected to the Pro Bowl.
Schoen rewarded the 25-year-old lineman with a new four-year $90 million contract for his efforts. Lawrence was entering the final year of his contract, and there were concerns about when and how a deal would get done. But Schoen and the rest of New York’s brass made Lawrence’s extension a priority.
Taking care of players that perform can go a long way in building a championship culture. The team is confident that Lawrence will be one of the catalysts in bringing the franchise back to dominance once again.