My colleague at the New York Giants desk, Tom McAlister, believes that Olivier Vernon should be released by the Giants because he is underperforming and thereby no longer justifying the 38 million dollars he would cost the team over the next two seasons.
Tom has a point. But…! The Giants should keep Vernon. We have not yet seen all that he can do.
Vernon played most of this year as a shadow of his potential self, struggling with both wrist and high ankle sprain injuries which kept him off the field for the first half of the season. The Giants pass-rush sucked for the first half of the season without him.
A healthy Olivier Vernon brings a 6′ 2″, 270-odd pound dangerous, destructive weapon to the Giants defense. he is fast and he is strong. Vernon’s absence was noticeable. He returned to give new life and ability to the struggling defense and energized them with big a big game against the Eagles. He’s been productive for the Giants on the field. While he totaled a less-than-stellar 7 sacks on the season, he also had a solid 35 tackles and 21 QB hits. And this is over only 11 games. To put that into perspective, two years ago, in 2016, Olivier was involved in 64 tackles, had 8.5 sacks and 23 QB hits. this year, 2018, playing in 11 games and not playing 100% due to injury, he was at nearly the same stats for sacks and QB hits and half the tackles.
Is Vernon expensive? Yes. But cutting him only frees up 8 million in cap space.
Going beyond the numbers, Olivier Vernon is a man who knows that nothing in life is promised him – or anyone. Tomorrow may never come. He believes that one must live for today. Vernon is a quiet, humble man of Swiss and Jamaican descent and there is arguably something about him that stands him out as a quiet leader on the team. He leads by action, not words.
When they asked Vernon to move his ginormous self from Defensive End to linebacker, he did, and he can still switch back. he can play both. He did well in both positions. We have seen him be more effective in the DE slot, but his potential at LB remains to be seen. We have not yet seen all that he can do.
To cut Vernon now would be foolish. The Giants have more obvious places to focus on rebuilding through trades and draft. Vernon’s return to the defense this season was a needed spark, and he delivered throughout the season. Imagine what he can do when he’s healthy.
Let’s keep him and find out.