It is hyperbole to suggest Logan Ryan was destined to play for the 2020 Giants, even though he is from New Jersey, attended Rutgers and from a football, familiarity and coaching standpoint, is in lockstep with everything the organization is trying to build.
It is not hyperbole, though, to state the Giants on Monday greatly improved the talent and depth of their defensive backfield by agreeing to terms with Ryan on a one-year deal worth $7.5 million. Instantly, the 29-year old cornerback, who will also play plenty of safety too, upgrades a unit that was hit this summer with player arrest, opt-out and injury.
“He is pumped to be back in New Jersey,’’ a source close to Ryan said.
Indeed, Ryan took to Twitter to post “I’m coming home!!’’ and later wrote, “Can’t wait to get started. Giants fan base is incredible and full of energy.’’
Momentum for this deal was swift after Ryan switched agents on Sunday, hiring Joel Segal — who also represents Giants defensive players Lorenzo Carter and Dexter Lawrence. The Giants in the past weeks had multiple conversations with Ryan’s previous agents, Neil Schwartz and Jonathan Feinsod, but the Giants found the asking price — $10 million — too high for their liking. When the price tag came down, the Giants were aggressive in their pursuit.
According to the source, Ryan is a huge fan of Patrick Graham, the Giants’ new defensive coordinator, and also Joe Judge, the new head coach. All three worked together with the Patriots.
Ryan, 29, needs to pass two COVID-19 tests and then take a physical. He could sign the contract as early as Wednesday or Thursday. Judge has given his players off Friday, Saturday and Sunday as roster cuts are made. So, Ryan should be ready to practice with the Giants for a full week leading into the Sept. 14 season opener against the Steelers.
Asked where the Giants envision using Ryan, the source said, “Everywhere. He’s a Swiss Army knife.’’
That means slot cornerback, safety, covering the tight end and perhaps also at an outside corner spot.
The Giants needed reinforcements in their secondary. Cornerback DeAndre Baker, a 2019 first-round pick, is on the exempt list, facing four armed robbery counts in Florida. Cornerback Sam Beal opted out. Rookie Xavier McKinney, expected to start at free safety, had surgery to repair a broken bone in his foot and will be out 10-12 weeks.
Asked before the Ryan deal went public if adding veteran help in the defensive backfield was a necessity, Judge played it straight.
“Our focus is developing guys on the roster,’’ he said. “It’s just a natural part of the National Football League, you have to be aware of the waiver wire and who is available on the street. That is just our jobs, to know who is available so by need we can fill those spots.’’
Judge and the Giants certainly knew of Ryan’s availability. Judge demands versatility in his players, and Ryan provides plenty of it. Judge and Ryan were together in New England for two Super Bowl victories. Ryan has not shown any backslide, starting all 16 games last season for the Titans. In 109 NFL games — 85 starts — Ryan has 17 career interceptions.
Before the addition of Ryan, the lone experienced cornerback on the team was free-agent signing James Bradberry. Grant Haley and Corey Ballentine are young and largely unproven. At safety, Jabrill Peppers is an established starter on the strong side, with second-year Julian Love moving into a more prominent role, with the absence of McKinney.
There are a bunch of young defensive backs to sort through, including cornerbacks Dravon Askew-Henry, Jarren Williams, Prince Smith and Brandon Williams and safeties Montre Hartage and Chris Williamson.
“Talking about the rate of that training camp, as it relates to where they would normally be, I think we have to just go ahead with these young guys and look at the progress they are making relative to previous years,’’ Judge said. “Because it’s not really about where anyone is right now, it’s about where they will be long term and that’s what we have to look for.’’
Ryan will soon be on the scene to help anywhere he is needed. The Giants refused to overextend financially to get him and the waiting game turned into a winner for them.