Giants pay a big price for run-stuffer Damon Harrison
(Editor’s note: Grades and analysis for this article may be updated as further details of the deal are reported.)
The deal: First reported by Kimberly Jones, nose tackle Damon Harrison will sign a 5-year, $45 million deal with the Giants which will include $24 million in guaranteed money according to Jason LaCanfora.
What it means for the Giants: More than just a plug to occupy blockers, Harrison is the league’s most destructive run defender up front. He shuts down the A-gaps as an option for teams to run through. With a healthy Johnathan Hankins, who played very well in 2014, the Giants will boast one of the most fearsome and physical defensive tackle pairings in the entire NFL.
The question is, though, whether they have two players who are too similar. Have the Giants gotten bigger, tougher and stronger as the league around them gets quicker?
Harrison had the best season of his four-year career as a pass-rusher in 2015, but still only registered 14 pressures. This contract is extremely steep for a player who is unlikely to see the field on third down, let alone be a force. This also asks a lot of Hankins, who showed so well in 2014 as a versatile 1-technique and 3-technique defensive tackle; can he specialize as a 3-tech?
The Giants have definitely improved themselves, but it’s debatable as to whether it was at a reasonable cost.
What it means for the Jets: This isn’t the first time that the Jets have moved on from their productive starting nose tackle in recent seasons, but Harrison certainly had more quality football in front of him than Sione Pouha did after the 2012 season. Seventh-round pick Deon Simon currently steps up to the top of the depth chart at nose tackle, and the Jets certainly have plenty of talent on the defensive line around the nose tackle spot. Harrison will be tough to replace, but the Jets will find a way to pay a fair price for the position.