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PFF Names This Giants' FA Move as the Biggest Surprise

PFF says this player is the most surprising addition the Giants made during free agency.

The New York Giants had many positions that need to be addressed this offseason, including offensive line, edge rusher, and receiver among them.

General manager Joe Schoen entered free agency with a plan to address offensive line and edge rusher with veteran help, and so far, that's exactly what he's done. In trading for veteran Brian Burns, the Giants instantly improved their defense, a move that Pro Football Focus' Zoltan Buday lists as his most surprising move of free agency so far, given the contract the Giants gave to Burns following his acquisition.

Edge defender Brian Burns moving on from Carolina was widely expected, so it was not necessarily a surprise that the Giants traded for him after the Carolina Panthers franchise tagged the former first-round pick. 

However, New York signing Burns immediately to a five-year $150 million extension – including $87 million guaranteed – may have raised a couple of eyebrows. Burns was a first-round pick in 2019, which will automatically improve his reputation, and he also had a breakout 2020 season. In his second season, he earned a 76.8 PFF overall grade, which ranked 13th at the position.

Buday notes that Burns' teammates on defense allowed Burns to be one of the main focal points of opposing offenses on game days. Now that Burns will be playing on a much more respectable defensive line, the veteran defender should thrive.

However, he has failed to live up to that season ever since, as he has not topped a 75.0 PFF grade since. Playing on a weak Panthers defense might have impacted Burns’ performance, and playing alongside star interior defender Dexter Lawrence could improve his production. Nevertheless, this is still a gamble by the Giants expecting Burns to play at a level he had not reached before in the NFL.

The Giants needed to add to their defense, but time will tell if Burns lives up to the expectations of the contract he received in the city he now plays for.