The evidence is mounting that the opinion of new Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham matters when it comes to procuring players in free agency.
For the second consecutive day, the Giants agreed to terms with one of Graham’s former players. They secured Kyler Fackrell on Tuesday with a one-year deal worth a reported $4.6 million, the day after they made a much bigger splash with a three-year, $30 million contract for Blake Martinez.
The connection? Graham was the linebackers coach with the Packers in 2018, and thus was the position coach for both new Giants additions.
The Giants also came to terms with Levine Toilolo, a blocking tight end who went to a Super Bowl with the Falcons and last season with the 49ers.
Fackrell, 28, was a 2016 third-round pick out of Utah State and started just nine of 61 games in his four years in Green Bay. He has 16.5 career sacks. The most eye-catching stat on his résumé stands out as an aberration: Fackrell had 10.5 sacks in 2018, his one year with Graham. Fackrell sacked Josh Allen of the Bills three times in one game and dropped the elusive Russell Wilson three times in a game against the Seahawks.
The Giants are hoping they can cash in with Fackrell the way they did last year with Markus Golden, a reclamation project because he was coming off a serious knee injury. Golden led the team with 10 sacks in 2019. He is an unrestricted free agent, and all these linebacker signings do not bode well for his return.
The hope is Fackrell can provide some pass-rush juice. He dropped to only one sack last season, but he was second on the Packers with a career-high 21 pressures. He is not considered to be strong against the run, but he is athletic enough to drop in zone coverage. For now, Fackrell should be seen as a third-down rusher.
The retirement of Rhett Ellison left the Giants without a seasoned blocking tight end, and that is where Toilolo comes in. He is a seven-year veteran with 108 games of NFL experience, and in that span caught 97 passes for 996 yards and eight touchdowns. That production shows why Toilolo has lasted this long. He is very big (6-foot-8 and 268 pounds), a towering figure who does his work blocking at the line of scrimmage.
The loss of Ellison is compounded by the physical limitations of Evan Engram, who is coming off foot surgery. Engram and Toilolo are very different players, though, with disparate skill sets. Toilolo will fit in with Engram, a pass-catcher first and foremost, and Kaden Smith, who showed ability as a receiver as a rookie last season. The Giants also have Garrett Dickerson and C.J. Conrad on the roster at tight end.
Toilolo, 28, was a 2013 fourth-round draft pick of the Falcons. He is the second former Stanford player acquired by the Giants during this free-agency period. Linebacker Blake Martinez agreed to terms early Tuesday morning.
This is another addition with a pristine health history. Toilolo played in all 16 games five times in his career and appeared in 15 and 13 games his other two seasons. His best offensive showing came in 2014, when he caught 31 passes for 238 yards for the Falcons. A backup in 2018 for the 49ers, he had just two receptions for 10 yards. Pro Football Focus ranked Toilolo as the 26th-best run blocker in the league in 2019.