The New York Giants agreed to terms with former Miami Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon on a five year $85 million contract, with $52.5 million GUARANTEED, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rappaport and FOX Sports NFL Insider Mike Garafolo. The deal sets a record for a 4-3 defensive end.
The Giants have now signed four of the top 18 free agents available: cornerback Janoris Jenkins from the Los Angeles Rams, defensive tackle Damon Harrison from the New York Jets, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Vernon.
Here’s the tweet from Vernon’s agent:
Earlier in the day on Wednesday, the Dolphins removed the transition tag on Vernon. Paul Schwartz of the New York Post noted yesterday (Tuesday, March 8th) that the Giants were setting up for a mega-deal with Olivier and today the mega-deal came to fruition.
The 25-year-old former third round pick has 29 sacks over the first four years of play with his career-high of 11.5 coming in 2013. He’s started every game the past two seasons and was the third highest-graded unrestricted free agent according to Pro Football Focus. PFF also ranked Vernon as the top free agent ‘edge’ defender, earning “the highest grade for an edge defender from Week 8 onwards, racking up 64 pressures (nine sacks, 26 hits, 29 hurries)”. According to analyst John Breitenbach, Olivier was part of the 2nd best defensive line in 2015, just behind the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos. Vernon was also named the Dolphins’ best defender in 2015.
We listed Vernon as one of many free agent targets for the Giants when the regular season ended, then endorsed Olivier as one of 10 guys the Giants had to get. After reviewing the financials, we were convinced the G-Men could realistically pull off a bunch of moves including Vernon given the increased space under the salary cap following the releases of Geoff Schwartz, Will Beatty, and retirement of Jon Beason. Then, the Dolphins placed the transition tag and Vernon’s market value adjusted – could the Giants afford him? Is Vernon worth $13 million per year over five years? After seeing today’s agreement, the answer’s an emphatic yes for the Giants.