Adoree’ Jackson could not resist the Big Blue woo.
The 25-year-old cornerback and former first-round pick of the Titans agreed to a three-year, $39 million contract with the Giants on Monday, filling one of the team’s last glaring on-field needs and capping a week of free agency that saw the Giants dole out over $100 million in guaranteed money to three key players. But if Jackson is anything like the players who received the two other megacontracts in free agency, wide receiver Kenny Golladay and defensive lineman Leonard Williams, it wasn’t just the cash that enticed him to ink his deal.
The Giants are using their entire organization to sell top-tier free agents on coming to a team that won six games a year ago and has had just one playoff appearance in the past nine seasons. Sure, money seals those deals, but clearly players are starting to notice what Joe Judge and Company are doing. The Giants have become a destination team offering an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a promising rebuild.
In the case of Jackson, that push included having his former teammate and mentor from the Titans, current Giants safety Logan Ryan, in town to have dinner with and deliver a recruiting pitch to Jackson on Sunday night before the cornerback spent Monday at the team facility going through a more formal free agency visit. Other Giants including safety Jabrill Peppers and cornerback Darnay Holmes took to social media with postings that encouraged Jackson to join their ranks.
This after Golladay, who signed with the Giants on Saturday, cited the messages and sentiments he received from Giants including (and perhaps most importantly) quarterback Daniel Jones, as one of the aspects of the process that helped propel his deal forward.
"Those guys actually kind of reached out to me," Golladay said, adding that he was impressed by "just walking around the building, everybody greeting me and with them pretty much telling me that they wanted me here."
Williams, who signed last week after the Giants used the franchise tag to keep him, didn’t need that kind of welcome mat since he was already a member of the team. Still, he spoke about the culture he has been part of overhauling.
"Honestly, I just love this organization," he said. "I love the way they treat people here. I love the guys that they’re bringing into the building, player-wise."
Signing Jackson fills a hole the Giants were never quite able to plug during the 2020 season. While James Bradberry played cornerback at a Pro Bowl level in his first year with the team, the opposite cornerback job went through several hands before and during the season. The Giants were unable to settle on one player who could grab the job and hold onto it.
Jackson, who was released by the Titans as a salary cap casualty last week, certainly seems able to do so. The 25-year-old from USC started 41 of the 46 games he played the past four years, amassing 200 tackles, 33 passes defended, and two interceptions. He also has seen work as a kick returner. He missed most of 2020 with a knee injury, sitting out the first 13 games, but returned to play in the final three regular season contests plus the Titans’ wild card game.
Jackson is almost certainly the last big contract the Giants will finalize this free agency period. But his signing caps a furious week of action for the team that seems to indicate the Giants believe they are ready to make a push as contenders… and that free agents believe it too.