NFL training camp starts at the end of the month, which means players around the league are getting their last bits of offseason work in before the real work of trying to make the roster begins.
For certain players, this season is what some may call “Make or Break,” meaning they need to put together a productive year or they could be looking for employment elsewhere at the end of the 2021-22 campaign.
We’ll highlight those players for the Giants, this time with LB Lorenzo Carter...
Why Make or Break?
Carter was primed for a solid Year 3 with Big Blue last season, as he looked quick and agile coming off the left edge. But that only lasted until Week 5 against the Dallas Cowboys when he had to leave with an Achilles injury that kept him out the remainder of the season -- just one sack and 15 tackles later.
And it wasn't good timing, as the former third-round pick enters a contract year now in 2021.
The Giants had high hopes for Carter coming out of Georgia and he showed spurts of why when he totaled four sacks and 4.5 sacks in 2018 and 2019 respectively. But there is more in the tank in their eyes.
He will need to prove that this season for a team that still lacks a consistent pass rush off the edge. Leonard Williams will need some help now that he will certainly see more attention from offensive lines.
What will break it?
Heading into the final year of his contract, performance is everything for Carter if he wishes to stay with the Giants. But there's also the strong possibility that he gets transitioned into the middle with Blake Martinez, as there is no clear cut counterpart at middle linebacker.
Could this transition actually hurt Carter? He's a natural outside linebacker but his tackling abilities are strong. They could easily be a force to reckon with up the middle.
But there could also be gaps of bad play from Carter, who is still trying to prove he can be a force for New York. If he does make the move to the inside and can't perform well, then he'll likely be trying to find another team at the end of the year.
If he doesn't make the transition and stays outside, Carter is going to have to be a consistent threat off the edge. Again, it's been three years for him, though one was snatched away early with injury. The Giants know what they have in Carter -- they just need to see the results now.
What will make it?
It's very simple if you couldn't tell already: production.
That's all the Giants wish and hope to see from Carter coming off a nasty injury in 2020. They know he's capable of more than he's produced up to this point in his career.
Carter has just 9.5 sacks and just over 100 tackles in 35 career games.
Carter has good instincts on the field with natural speed and power when he's got the man with the ball in front of him. We'll see if those skills are diminished due to the injury, but he's been rehabbing for quite some time now and should be good for the start of the season.
Contract years always seem to bring out the best in players, so we'll see if Carter can use that to his advantage to make sure he gets one when the 2021 campaign is complete.