NFL rumors: Ranking NY Giants’ 5 biggest needs and free agents to fill them

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 13: Allen Robinson #12 of the Chicago Bears looks on during the second quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on September 13, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 13: Allen Robinson #12 of the Chicago Bears looks on during the second quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on September 13, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /
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Baltimore Ravens running back Gus Edwards (35) carries the ball against Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree (Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports) /

2. Pass rusher

The Giants’ defense became the team’s strength, particularly down the stretch, but it is glaringly evident that this unit desperately needs a dominant edge rush presence.

This season proved that it is flawed logic that a defense can effectively cobble together a pass rush by committee, or simply rely on pressure generated by the defensive line.

Getting Lorenzo Carter back and healthy will certainly give the Giants’ pass rush a boost in 2021, but Carter can only be part of the equation and still needs to prove he can take the next step in his development.

Here are the sacks generated by Giants’ linebackers this season: Blake Martinez (3), Tae Crowder (1), Kyler Fackrell (3), Carter Coughlin (1), Carter (1), Markus Golden (1.5). That’s just not going to get it done.

Top free agent targets:

Shaq Barrett

The Buccaneers have the cap space and the wherewithal to bring Barrett back, but if he shakes loose somehow, the Giants need to aggressively try to sign one of the most dominant pass rushers in the game. One year removed from producing 19.5 sacks, Barrett added eight more to his career total in 2020.

Jadeveon Clowney

The Giants had the chance to sign Clowney this spring, and passed, before Clowney inked a one-year deal with the Tennessee Titans. While Clowney did not produce a sack this season, that was cut short by a season-ending knee injury back in November, he still has all of the physical traits to be an elite pass rusher.

Bud Dupree

Dupree developed into the centerpiece of the Steelers’ dominant pass rush and emerged as one of the most dangerous players at the position this season, before tearing his ACL against the Ravens last month. Prior to getting injured, Dupree produced nine sacks, 25 hurries, and 43 total pressures. If the Giants are able to pry him away from Pittsburgh, Dupree would immediately be the most gifted pass rusher on Patrick Graham’s defense.