A year ago the Giants revamped their defense. This year they are reuniting it.
The latest player to return to the mix is Keenan Robinson, an athletic linebacker who played on mostly sub packages in 2016. Robinson signed a one-year deal on Tuesday that could be worth up to $4 million.
The move means that 10 of the Giants’ 11 defensive starters from last year — and virtually all of their main contributors but one — will be back for 2017. Defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins remains the lone holdout. The Giants have an offer on the table for him but he continues to seek a better deal elsewhere. There is some hope that he, too, will be back with the Giants soon.
Meanwhile, the Giants are looking to continue improving on defense. Last season they jumped from last in the NFL to 10th overall in that category thanks to a $200 million infusion of talent that included free agent signings Olivier Vernon, Janoris Jenkins and Damon Harrison. The group was a main reason why the Giants won 11 games and made the playoffs.
“We definitely have some unfinished business, especially after leaving with that sour taste from Green Bay,” Robinson said of the playoff loss to the Packers. “I think we can achieve much greater heights than we did last year. I think getting right back in the building is one key to doing that.”
Robinson visited the Bengals and Bills before re-signing with the Giants, but said all along he had hoped to return to New York. Once Jason Pierre-Paul signed a long-term deal last week, freeing up salary cap space, that became more of a reality.
“I definitely did want to make this work the whole time,” Robinson said. “The JPP thing kind of put everything on hold, because they weren’t sure what was going to happen there . . . I told my agent I wanted to wait and see and hold off before I made a decision. And it ended up working out in our favor, and ended up working out in the Giants’ favor. I definitely wanted to be a part of the defense like I was last year. The patience paid off.”
Notes & quotes: The Giants agreed to terms with RB Shaun Draughn, most recently of the 49ers, according to a source. He’ll compete in a backfield that is also expected to include Paul Perkins, Shane Vereen and Orleans Darkw. The NFL Network first reported the agreement. Draughn, who is 29, is listed at 5-11 and 205 pounds. He has been with eight other teams since entering the NFL as an undrafted rookie in 2011. During that time he never has carried the ball more than 78 times in a season (2015 with the 49ers and Browns) or rushed for more than 273 yards (also 2015). He did catch 54 passes over the past two seasons with the 49ers, though, and has scored seven career rushing touchdowns. Last season he had four rushing TDs and two receiving . . . Dwayne Harris went to the Pro Bowl as a special teamer last season, but NFLPA records show the Giants cut his base salary by $500,000 for 2017. ESPN reported earlier in the month the Giants had approached Harris about taking a pay cut or being released to free up salary cap space . . . Brandon Marshall will wear No. 15 for the Giants this season, the same number he wore with the Jets. That number previously belonged to Tavarres King, who will now wear No. 12.