It’s still unclear which defensive players will be returning to the Giants, but their coordinator will be.
Steve Spagnuolo signed a one-year extension with the team this week, linking him to the Giants through the 2018 season. He had one season remaining on his previous deal.
His return comes as no surprise after the Giants turned their defense around from the worst in the league in 2015 to one of the top units in 2016. Coach Ben McAdoo said at the end of the 2016 season he had no plans to shake up the coaching staff.
The addition of free agents Janoris Jenkins, Damon Harrison and Olivier Vernon last offseason helped that resurgence, but Spagnuolo, 57, also was a big part of it.
There is a haziness to what will happen to some of the Giants’ defensive veterans in the coming weeks. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul is scheduled to be a free agent in March and the Giants likely are exploring options with cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who has two years left on his contract and is due to earn $6.98 million in 2017. Defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins and starting linebackers Keenan Robinson and Kelvin Sheppard also are pending free agents.
Spagnuolo’s third season with the Giants will mark his longest tenure with the team. He was the defensive coordinator for 2007 and 2008 before leaving to become coach of the Rams. He returned to the Giants in 2015 under Tom Coughlin. Last year, he was a candidate to replace Coughlin, a job that went to McAdoo.
McAdoo then retained Spagnuolo as his defensive coordinator for 2016 despite the lackluster results in 2015, which many ascribed to personnel issues and injuries.