Giants Titans - Eli sacked by Logan Ryan.jpg (copy)

Logan Ryan, seen here sacking former Giants quarterback Eli Manning during a 2018 game with the Tennessee Titans at MetLife Stadium, has signed a one-year deal with the Giants. (John Blaine/ For The Trentonian)

Just two weeks out from the season opener, the Giants are boosting their ailing secondary with arguably the top player on the free-agent market.

Logan Ryan has agreed to a one-year, $7.5 million contract with the Giants, as first reported Monday afternoon by NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport. Ryan confirmed the news via Twitter.

Ryan, 29, is a Berlin, New Jersey native who attended Eastern Regional High School in Voorhees and starred at Rutgers from 2010-12. The Patriots drafted him in the third round in 2013, and he won two Super Bowls in New England before spending the 2017-19 seasons with the Tennessee Titans.

Ryan has played most of his career as a cornerback, although he informed NFL general managers through his agent in early August that he viewed himself as a safety moving forward, per NFL.com. His versatility was on display last season as he played 855 snaps at slot corner, 243 at wide corner, 180 in the box and 22 at free safety, according to Pro Football Focus.

The Giants desperately need help all over the secondary. Cornerback DeAndre Baker is on the commissioner’s exempt list during an ongoing legal case, cornerback Sam Beal opted out of the season because of COVID-19, and second-round pick Xavier McKinney, the projected free safety starter, could miss 8-10 weeks after undergoing surgery on his broken left foot.

Ryan had reportedly been previously seeking a deal worth at least $10 million annually, so the Giants ended up with a bargain.

New York had about $25 million in cap space prior to the signing, with much debate over whether to add veteran reinforcements for potentially a rebuilding season or roll over that money to the 2021 cap, which is expected to go down because of financial effects from COVID-19.

Ryan should be a good fit in his home state while reuniting with Giants head coach Joe Judge, who was Ryan’s special teams coordinator in New England.

“Our focus is developing guys on the roster,” Judge said hours before the Ryan signing. “It’s just a natural part of the National Football League — you have to be aware of the waiver wire and who is available on the street. That is just our jobs, to know who is available so by need we can fill those spots. Our priority is the guys that we work with on a daily basis and making sure we put them in the right position to make plays and then can evaluate them properly.”

Gates Emerging in Center Competition

Judge called the Giants’ center competition “scratch even” a week ago, but regardless of whether that was gamesmanship, the picture has become clearer.

Nick Gates has emerged as the front-runner coming off a strong instrasquad scrimmage last Friday, coupled with the fact that veteran incumbent Spencer Pulley missed about a week with an undisclosed injury. Pulley returned to full-team periods Monday.

"I thought Nick Gates did a good job in the middle, commanding the calls and getting everyone on the same page," Judge said when asked about the offensive line as a whole.

Gates, a third-year pro from Nebraska, has never played center in a game but has been consistently praised for his versatility and toughness. Offensive line coach Marc Colombo last week called Gates “the alpha male you want at the position.”

“This is the first time I’ve ever been in charge of the line,” Gates said. “It’s nice, it’s just a lot more responsibility mentally. It’s something I’m getting used to.”

Gates worked out and build chemistry with left guard Will Hernandez, a fellow Las Vegas native, during the offseason. In training camp, he’s played snaps at center with all four Giants quarterbacks. He also feels he’s received an invaluable education from the Giants’ defense, which has been mixing and matching various fronts.

“I think mentally I’m thinking about so much, I don’t really think about the physical part and the technique part and snapping the ball,” Gates said. “It’s kind of nice just to be able to go out there and think and try to do the play, and then by the time I give the calls out and everything, I’m just ready to go and I don’t have to think about it too much.”

Roster Cuts

NFL teams have until 4 p.m. Saturday to cut their rosters down to 53 players.

With no preseason games, and especially for a younger team like the Giants, a big-picture evaluation is even more critical. Typically after two weeks in pads, teams would be preparing to play their first of four preseason games.

“I’ve learned from several guys that I have worked for, you can’t survive with pacifiers,” Judge said. “You can’t have a guy out there just because he knows what to do right now and may have a general edge on somebody just based on experience. Ultimately, you have to see the upside of somebody and what you can develop them into. It’s important to not go ahead and build your entire roster based on where it is right now.

"It’s important to look long term. Where are they going to be Week 6, Week 8, Week 10? How is each individual going to progress and what do we think our unit is going to look like by the end of the year? Dealing with young players is something you always have to take into consideration.”

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