Objectively, the Giants are doing well in free agency so far


Objectively, the Giants are doing well in free agency so far

And the biggest add may not be who you think it is

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The New York Giants have been fairly active during the “legal tampering” period of NFL free agency this year. We all have our own opinions of the players they have added and lost, some of them rational, some emotional. The Giants have improved the offensive line…no, they just added mediocre players and missed out on the best free agent OLs. The Giants added an elite pass rusher…no, he’s good but not worth the money they’re paying him. The Giants let their best offensive player leave…no, he’s an injury-prone back who’s not as good as the best running backs in the league.


Several weeks ago I discussed which drills at the NFL Combine are most predictive of player NFL success using metrics developed by Kevin Cole of Unexpected Points. Cole is currently evaluating the impacts of player movement in free agency based on the Plus/Minus metric he developed while working for Pro Football Focus and which was used in his Combine analysis. Plus/Minus is basically an expected points added/lost by a particular player relative to a replacement-level player, but with additional information on player “type” incorporated, as I discussed in the Combine articles.


Based on this information, how are the Giants doing in free agency so far? Here are the Plus/Minus values of players added and lost by NFC East teams as of late Tuesday afternoon:



Courtesy of Unexpected Points

(The list only includes player movements confirmed by the NFL as of the time of writing, which may explain why Drew Lock and Tyrod Taylor do not appear on the chart above.). You may be surprised to find out that offensive tackle Jermaine Eluemunor is the Giants’ most valuable addition so far by this metric and the best add by any NFC East team. Eluemunor was a fairly inexpensive signing at $7M per year, but he has the second highest added value of any offensive lineman (+18.5 points) that has switched teams thus far. Presumably that is partly explained by the value of the OT position. New guard Jon Runyan does well, too, at +11.7 points. Of note is that both players’ added value comes largely in pass blocking.


New Giants edge defender Brian Burns does well, too, at +12.2 points added, third overall among players at that position that switched teams (behind Jonathan Greenard and Denico Autry). Devin Singletary is a modest add at +5.5 points.


The Giants’ lost two major players from the 2023 team as well. Saquon Barkley was a +10.8 points add for Philadelphia (interestingly, much of it in the passing game rather than the running game). Xavier McKinney rated +16.3 in points added.


Cole also calculates an “improvement index” for each team. It’s based on the Plus/Minus number, but also takes into account the value of players added relative to that of whom they are replacing. It is also a zero-sum index, i.e., the improvement index for all teams in total must add to zero. Thus, you can have a negative improvement index if you stand pat and do nothing while your opponents improve. Which brings us to the Dallas Cowboys:


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