NFL roster cuts: Players the ‘open for business’ Giants should consider

The New York Giants, and the rest of the NFL, trimmed their rosters to 53 players on Tuesday. The cut from 80 to 53 is the initial iteration of the final roster before Week 1. However, pro personnel departments around the league scour the disregarded from 31 other teams to see if those players fit better in their organization.

Every NFL team looks to improve their roster at this time of year with players who didn’t fit at their most recent stops. It could also be NFL teams attempting to sneak someone through waivers to stash them on their practice squad, as the Pittsburgh Steelers tried with Quincy Roche last season; unfortunately, Roche did not make the final cut this year.

Here’s Brian Daboll weighing in on this week’s turnover:

“I think that we’re open to really improving our team any way we can,” Daboll said. “Joe’s open for business.”

Injuries obviously complicate the Giants’ decisions, but Daboll said that is not an unusual NFL circumstance.

Here’s a list of players released at final cuts who may interest the Giants enough to give them a 53-man roster spot.

The Giants should be active this week and for the first couple of weeks this season. I did not put former Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Tyler Johnson on the list. I am a fan of Johnson’s game, but he’s more of a slot receiver – the Giants have plenty of slot options.

Tony Jefferson, DB

Jefferson’s release came Monday night, and he was immediately linked to Wink Martindale. The 30-year-old safety played with the Ravens from 2017 to 2019; he tore his ACL at the end of 2019 and did not play in the 2020 season. He signed with the 49ers but hardly played in 2021 until he reunited with Martindale midseason.

The Ravens are now moving on from the productive safety who is familiar with Martindale. The addition would make sense for the Giants if he is fully healthy and still athletically capable. New York waived Trenton Thompson, Yusuf Corker, and Nate Meadors, presumably to stash one, if not two, of them on the practice squad. However, the Giants parted ways with a solid veteran safety in Andrew Adams, so I’m uncertain if the Giants would go in this direction despite the connection.

Marquise Blair, DB

Blair is a 25-year-old 2019 second-round pick who was caught up in a deep safety room with the Seattle Seahawks. I liked his tape at Utah; he was physical, fast, and I think he can be an asset coming downhill on the blitz. Blair is 6’1, and just under 200 pounds; if the Giants are looking for young safety talent, adding him to the active roster isn’t a terrible move.

Jason Pinnock, DB

Pinnock was a 2021 fifth-round selection out of Pitt. He was predominantly a cornerback who had six interceptions, and 12 passes defended while in college. He transitioned to safety in Robert Saleh’s defense. Pinnock had a good camp and a solid preseason but didn’t make the final cut.

Pinnock played in 202 defensive snaps last season; he had a pass defended and surrendered a touchdown on six catches (seven targets) that went for 63 yards. The Giants’ defensive back room – specifically the cornerbacks – is a precarious situation. Pinnock’s experience playing outside in college – along with his 6’0, 204-pound frame – make him an interesting option for Schoen and company. Here’s his testing from the 2021 NFL Scouting Combine:

Those are good explosive numbers and quick twitch with the 10-yard split. Pinnock’s name makes sense as the Giants attempt to upgrade a secondary that causes trepidation among Giants fans.

I like some other CBs that were waived, specifically Gregory Junior (Jacksonville), but I can’t advocate that the Giants place a player from a small school who was a sixth-round pick on their final 53-man roster. However, I did want to acknowledge Junior’s name.

Herb Miller III, CB

The Browns waived the 6’2, 190-pound former Florida Atlantic Owl. Miller is interesting not just because of his length, but because he has a knack for finding the football; he has three career preseason interceptions and four passes defended. Here is one of them from his time with the Buccaneers:

Miller can play both the left and right outside cornerback spots. He had good coverage grades at FAU and solid ball production (three interceptions, 10 passes defended). Because of the dearth of proven talent at CB, I expected GM Joe Schoen to take some swings on players; Herb Miller III could be one of them.

Wyatt Davis, IOL

The Minnesota Vikings already parted ways with their 2021 third-round selection out of Ohio State. Davis has not played any regular season snaps, but his tape in college was solid. Here’s a summary from my report on Davis coming out of school:

“Overall, Davis is a brute run blocker who can dominate the point of attack with strength and a feisty nature, while also being an adequate pass protector. He can stand to get a bit better with his overall technique in both areas (gets sloppy at times), and he has to be more consistent from a processing standpoint, but he should be a functional player in the NFL that can compete for starting reps .”

The Vikings changed their organization drastically by hiring Kwesi Adofo-Mensah as GM and bringing in Kevin O’Connell as their head coach – the polar opposite of Mike Zimmer. A new regime typically means turnover, and Davis found himself out of a job. He needs refinement and Bobby Johnson can be that guy to get the most out of the 23-year-old. I think it makes sense, as long as there are no unforeseen issues with the player.

Alec Lindstrom, OC

The Giants have no true centers on their roster, and Lindstrom was valuable as the Boston College center over the last four seasons. He has more than 2,500 snaps logged at center in college. The 2022 UDFA was released by the Cowboys, who don’t exactly have the most robust offensive line.

Lindstrom is technically sound. He only allowed seven pressures and a sack during his senior season and finished his college career with 24 pressures, and three sacks surrendered. Here’s my pre-draft report summary on Lindstrom:

“Overall, Alec Lindstrom is an undersized center who executes good technique with his hands, angles, and does a good job working in tandem with his guards in COMBO situations. His play strength is adequate at best, and he’s not the most powerful center prospect, but he’s smart and a very strong finisher – he will punish vulnerable defenders. If Alec Lindstrom mastered the art of leverage and keeping his center of gravity lower, his balance issues wouldn’t be as prominent. I appreciate his mentality, and he’s a solid option with starting upside who could be selected somewhere on day three.”

The Giants need interior offensive line help, and there’s a possibility that Lindstrom could be solid depth behind Jon Feliciano.

Darryl Williams, IOL

Staying focused on the interior offensive line, Williams was recently waived by the Jacksonville Jaguars – a team that invested big money in Brandon Scherff and selected Luke Fortner in the third round out of Kentucky.

Williams is a 25-year-old former Mississippi State Bulldog who is 6’3, 310 pounds, with 228 preseason snaps to his name. Williams has handled both guard responsibilities and played 73 snaps at center. He started center his final year at Mississippi State and started left guard in his second to last season.

He received good PFF grades in college, and only allowed two sacks through just under 1,000 pass blocking snaps in Starkville. He’s not the largest or most experienced – and his arm length is only 32⅛ inches – but he has some upside with an adequate athletic baseline. The addition would be for developmental depth, and he’s not someone the Giants would look to start over Devery Hamilton (if he starts) in Week 1.

Kendall Blanton, TE

Blanton played a significant role in the Los Angeles Rams’ 20-17 NFC Championship victory over the San Francisco 49ers. The 26-year-old 6’6, 265-pound tight end recorded five catches on five targets for 57 yards.

The 2019 UDFA out of Missouri only has seven career targets in the regular season. He was waived by the Rams after preseason Week 1, and the Washington Commanders claimed him off waivers, but he was just released. Blanton makes a lot of sense for the Giants with their current tight end situation.

The Giants are trying to stash Austin Allen on the practice squad, and the departure of Jordan Akins, along with the injury to Ricky Seals-Jones, leaves the room thin. The Giants currently have rookie Daniel Bellinger, Chris Myarick, and the newly acquired Tanner Hudson as tight ends on their roster.

Devin Asiasi & Dalton Keene, TE

The New England Patriots spent two draft picks on tight end during the 2020 NFL Draft. Asiasi and Dalton Keene were both selected in the third round. During the following offseason, the Patriots spent big on Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith, relegating the two youngsters to reserve roles; both were just waived.

Asian is stout; he’s about 6’3, 258 pounds, whereas Keene is 6’4, 251 pounds. Asiasi missed time with various (including ankle) injuries and for personal reasons. Keene had several meniscus injuries to his knees, sprained his patellar tendon, and a neck injury; he’s struggled to stay on the field.

Keene has three regular season catches, and Asiasi has two. Playing for the Patriots organization is different, and injuries hampered both careers. Head coach Bill Belichick quickly realized that veterans were needed, and both young players were buried on the depth chart. It’s not crazy to assume there’s still talent with the 25-year-old Asiasi, and the 23-year-old Keene. If I’m choosing one, I think I’d go with Asiasi, but both names are worth mentioning.

OJ Howard, TE

Schoen should have some inside knowledge of Howard’s inability to stick on the Buffalo Bills’ roster due to his time in Buffalo. The Bills pursued Howard to presumably back up tight end Dawson Knox, but the 2017 first-round pick failed to stick.

I’ll preface the case for Howard with pessimism; the Bills take on $2.62 million in dead cap for this season with $625K in 2023. The Bills REALLY did not want him on the roster; that says something profound. However, the Giants desperately need a tight end, and he at least used to profile as a solid young talent.

The 6’6, 251-pound Howard is only 27 years old, but a devastating 2020 Grade 3 torn Achilles slowed his development. Howard dealt with several foot and ankle ailments throughout his time in the league. He caught 16 of 22 passes for 145 yards and a touchdown in a deep tight end room in Tampa Bay last year.

I don’t know what Howard has left in his tank, but the Giants desperately need tight end help.

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