The 7 best free agent signings Jerry Reese has made as GM of the Giants
When Reese found Mitchell, he was an under-the-radar strongside linebacker on the Chiefs. Reese signed him for just over $1 million, and the Giants turned him into a major contributor during the 2007 season that ended with a victory in Super Bowl XLII. Mitchell saved one of his best performances for last, racking up eight tackles and a sack against Tom Brady’s previously undefeated squad. Mitchell bolted for the Bills in the offseason, using the Super Bowl high to land him a big contract.
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Although times have been rough for Brown with his recent demotion to third-string safety, no one can deny the value that he has returned on Reese’s investment. Reese snagged him off of the Colts practice squad, and Brown quickly emerged as the starting safety and racked up eight interceptions, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries during the 2012 season. He finished with the second-most interceptions in the NFL that season. Not a bad return on what was essentially a free addition to the roster.
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If he were with the Giants for longer than one season, Bennett would be much higher on this list. However, money talks and Reese preferred not to overspend after Bennett’s breakout performance. Reese found Bennett at the end of his rookie contract with the Cowboys, and at this point in his career he was known only for inconsistent play. The talent was obvious, and Reese believed that he just needed a change of scenery. He was right—Bennett was a highly productive receiver and blocker for the Giants, and he evolved into one of the NFL’s few complete tight ends.
Getty ImagesRich Schultz
The Giants desperately needed a linebacker who excelled in pass coverage, and in the 2009 offseason they targeted Michael Boley from the Falcons. Boley immediately filled that role and the Giants were no longer the worst team in the league at covering tight ends. Boley had four solid seasons with the Giants before fizzling out at age 30, and he was a major component of the 2011 Super Bowl team.
The Giants snagged Weatherford from the cross-town rival Jets. Reese was shrewd on this one and took advantage of a classic buy-low scenario. Weatherford was one of the best punters in the league during the 2010 regular season, but he had a terrible postseason. Recency bias played a role in the Jets letting him walk, and he has been with the Giants since.
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Like most NFL kickers, Tynes’ tenure with the Giants wasn’t always pretty, but he delivered in the clutch, and that’s all that matters. Reese found Tynes on the Chiefs and added him as a free agent just before the 2007 season. Tynes went on to deliver a game-winning field goal in overtime of the NFC Championship game to send the Giants to the Super Bowl.
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After Kenny Phillips fizzled out due to injuries, the Giants entered the 2010 offseason in desperate need of a safety. They targeted Rolle, who had been released by the Cardinals due to salary-cap issues. Although Reese had to sign him to what was at the time the biggest contract for any safety in NFL history, he surely doesn’t regret it. Rolle has evolved into the captain and face of this defense. He has switched positions and played cornerback when the Giants have needed him to, but his best season came in 2013 when he was free to play safety the entire way. Rolle racked up six interceptions, two sacks, 80 tackles, and also added in a forced fumble.