In what is perhaps the most obvious point of ESPN analyst Bill Barnwell's five-step off-season plan for the Giants, he writes that the team needs to add a significant edge rusher.
By "significant," I am assuming Barnwell means a No. 1 type of pass rusher--think Von Miller or any other pass rusher capable of at least double-digit sacks all by his lonesome.
The Giants did manage to get that kind of production from Markus Golden in what was a bounceback year for the veteran, but with the 28-year-old having become the first Giants pass rusher to record double-digit sacks since Jason Pierre-Paul did it in 2014 and the first outside linebacker to accomplish the feat since Lawrence Taylor, there is still some debate whether Golden is a No. 1 pass rusher or more of a complementary piece.
With all that said, Golden's return probably isn't etched in stone. The Giants, if they're going to splurge on a pass rusher, might spot to do so on a guy who is able to bend the edge and attack from the outside.
Then there is the matter of their two young draft picks--Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines.
As we noted in our film study of Carter, his use in the defense wasn't the best deployment of his talents--he was far more effective playing the same type of role that Golden played (which is why we don't think Golden's return is a slam dunk, though we prescribe to the Ernie Accorsi school of thought that you can never have too many pass rushers.)
When Carter was lined up as a 9-tech, he accomplished most of his production, which is why we could see him taking on that same role Golden played if Golden is not back.
Then there is the matter of Ximines. The Giants still don't know what they have in him, but the youngster out of Old Dominion did show promise as a pass rusher.
As Barnwell notes, the Giants can't and shouldn't put all their eggs in those two baskets, and it would behoove them to devote a fair chunk of their available salary-cap space to a true outside edge rusher with the capability of delivering double-digit sacks per annum.
Barnwell mentioned Panthers' edge rusher Mario Addison as a possibility. The 32-year-old Addison has recorded 29.5 sacks over the last three seasons, but driving top-tiered cap dollars toward a player on the south side of 30 for a team that's in rebuild mode probably isn't the best use of financial resources plus it represents as big of a risk as gambling on the still-developing players.
If the Giants are going to spend on a pass rusher in free agency, their best hope is that Yannick Ngakoue of the Jaguars, a player who's just starting to his prime, becomes available in free agency.