On Monday, the NY Giants took another step closer to the 2023 season with the start of organized team activities (OTAs). Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll collectively have spent a lot of the offseason re-loading the roster the moment the Giants season ended back in January at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles.
The focus of 2022 was spent getting the Giants back into football relevance. The focus of 2023 should be building towards being a true playoff contender that can win games in January. We saw a lot of the roster upgrades done either through the 2023 NFL Draft or in free agency. The Giants also had a lot of their own players in free agency who Schoen and Daboll had to make decisions on.
Players like Nick Gates, Richie James and Julian Love departed. The Giants did retain players like Darius Slayton, Jarrad Davis, Jamie Gillan, Matt Breida, Jihad Ward and Oshane Ximines. Most of the players signed short-term deals to give Schoen roster flexibility heading into 2024 and beyond.
While those veterans returned to East Rutherford for the 2023 season, there are still several players who remain free agents and surprisingly so, considering they have been key contributors for the team. Which ones are the biggest surprises that remain unsigned?
3. LB Jaylon Smith
The veteran linebacker had two separate stints with the Giants, both of which started mid-season in 2021 and 2022. The first time was in December of 2021, which was late in the season. In the four games he was active for, Smith totaled 19 tackles and one sack.
Smith returned to the Giants for a second stint in 2022, although this time, he signed in late September and did so given the need the Giants had at linebacker with the injuries and lack of depth. Smith ended up being the second leading tackler on the team with 88 total stops.
However, the Giants did add veteran linebacker Jarrad Davis, who saw a significant amount of playing time when he was signed last December and into the playoffs for the Giants. They also have last year's rookie middle linebacker Darrian Beavers returning after missing all of 2022 due to an injury.
Smith also had a few moments where he forgot to finish a play; like he did where he stopped in the process of sacking Nick Foles in Week 17 against the Colts.
It'll be curious to see if the Giants bring Smith back for a third stint and if it's done like the previous two, which were in mid-season because of a need at the position.