Given what Taylor’s contract dictates, it could go either way. He signed a minimum salary benefit one-year deal on May 25 that has a cash value of $855,000. Taylor received only $40,000 guaranteed, and could earn another $40,000 between workout and roster bonuses, a source told ESPN.
In NFL terms, this is not a major financial commitment, especially for a player who has recorded 11.5 sacks over the past two seasons. The Giants paid $40 million guaranteed earlier this offseason to re-sign defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who had 8.0 sacks in the 2015-16 seasons.
The signing of Taylor has potential — and many around the league support this view. One source even termed it a “great signing” because the deal could very well yield tremendous bang for the buck. Taylor could be a rotational defensive end (or starter if Pierre-Paul or Olivier Vernon suffer injuries) who occasionally moves inside in pass-rush situations.
At the very least, the Giants are contemplating using Taylor as an interior rusher on passing downs. It’s a spot they must fill before the coming season.
“He’s a proven veteran in this league,” defensive line coach Patrick Graham said. “He has to prove himself again but I think as a defensive end, he’s shown some great flexibility in the past. It’s a good piece to have and we will see how the competition plays out.”
The Giants currently have Vernon and Pierre-Paul as starters at defensive end. They also have youngsters Romeo Okwara — who posted a strong rookie season and spring — and fifth-round pick Avery Moss. Finally, New York might be fielding 2015 third-round pick Owa Odighizuwa, who has been dealing with personal issues this spring.
While it was somewhat surprising that Taylor didn’t attract more interest around the league, his lack of offers illustrates what most teams seem to think of the veteran lineman. An NFC team executive said that franchises tend to view Taylor as a different type of cat. And different rarely plays well in the NFL, particular when it concerns less than elite talent.
A different NFC source described Taylor as “just a guy” with average athleticism and football ability. His team viewed the lineman as a potential rotational/depth guy.
If Taylor makes the Giants’ roster, his role will likely be the same as what that NFC source envisioned. But spending a minimum salary on an experienced veteran seems like a low-risk, high-upside signing.
Taylor, 27, spent the first four years of his career with the Detroit Lions. He started 18 games (including all 16 last season) and had 15.0 sacks in 92 contests.
His most productive season came in 2015, when he compiled 7.0 sacks despite not starting a single game. If the Giants can get anywhere close to that level of production for less than $1 million, Taylor will amount to one of their best offseason signings.