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NFL AM: Giants Looking To Upgrade DE Position With Mario Williams

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Giants Shopping Free Agent DE’s

While most teams are waiting until Tuesday’s free agency “greeting period” the New York Giants have showed urgency.

New York had former Carolina Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson in for a visit on Sunday and will have former Houston Texans and Buffalo Bills defensive end Mario Williams in this week, according to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport.

New York’s immediate interest in these recently released defensive ends signals that they likely won’t be in the market to retain their own free agent defensive ends, Jason Pierre-Paul and Robert Ayers.

Williams is coming off a down season where he registered just five sacks, but he was playing out of position as he often dropped into coverage in Rex Ryan’s 3-4.  At 31 years old, he should have a couple productive seasons left and with general manager Jerry Reese’s job being evaluated, the Giants have to make the playoffs in 2016.

If Williams makes it out of New York without signing a contract, the Jacksonville Jaguars are rumored to have interest in him.

Johnson is a little younger than Williams at 29 years old, and is also coming off a down season.  He missed half the 2015 season with a strained hamstring.  He was placed on injured reserve, designated for return and when he did return he had three sacks in as many playoff games for the Panthers.

Johnson had 52.5 sacks for the Panthers from 2010 to 2015.

He is scheduled to meet with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after his visit with the Giants.  The Bucs are very familiar with Johnson’s work, playing against him twice a year.

No Country For Old WR’s

In the past week, we’ve seen the Atlanta Falcons move away from Roddy White, the Indianapolis Colts from Andre Johnson and the Miami Dolphins from Greg Jennings.

This is all the proof you need that this is a young man’s game.

White had a problem with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, and his agent Jonathan Feinsod chimed in with some comments of his own.

“There is one reason Roddy is no longer with the Falcons and it is Kyle Shanahan,” Feinsod told D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Kyle forced the Falcons to choose between him or Roddy. This was not Roddy’s choice. Over the last 11 years Roddy has played for four different head coaches. Four different offensive coordinators. Three different wide receiver coaches and one incredible owner. Their opinions of Roddy and his opinion of them would all be consistently positive. Roddy has had and continues to have an incredible professional and personal relationship with them all.”

By all accounts, White was greatly respected in the Falcons locker room.  With that said, it’s difficult to buy into the conspiracy that he and his agent are painting.

White looked slow last season and he hasn’t topped 1,000 yards in a season since 2012.  Last year was his worst since his rookie season, as he caught just 43 passes for 506 yards with a single touchdown.  He’s been a declining player and at 34 years old it’s no surprise that the team went in a different direction.

Andre Johnson had a storied career as a member of the Houston Texans as he holds all of their receiving records after being a first-round pick in 2003.  After he was no longer worth the high salary he was due in 2015, the Texans released him and he later signed with the Indianapolis Colts.

Johnson was supposed to be a big piece of an explosive Colts offense last year, but he struggled to create separation and finished with just 41 catches for 503 yards and four touchdowns.

“I am playing, there’s no question about that,” Johnson told NFL Media. “I know I can still play this game…people read into the stories too much. I’m not discouraged about what happened this past season, I’m just waiting for an opportunity.”

It’s going to be a small market for Johnson as he will be 35 years old before training camp begins.  It’s possible that he could catch on with a team like Los Angeles or Cleveland, who have a need for veteran leadership at the wide receiver position.

Like White and Johnson, Greg Jennings 2015 season was a complete bust.  He had just 19 catches for 208 yards and a touchdown.

Jennings career has been on a downward spiral after leaving the Green Bay Packers following the 2012 season.  He took a big money deal to go to division rival Minnesota and was there for just two seasons before being released in 2015.

Although Jennings is just 32 years old, it certainly looks like his days of being a productive receiver have since vanished.

As difficult as it is to consider interested teams for White, Johnson and Jennings, it’s even tougher to imagine any of the three ever being a functional option in someone’s passing game.

If you’re old and slow, you must go.


About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.