Giants fire sale begins by trading DT Damon Harrison to Lions for fifth-round draft pick

The New York Giants are 1-6 and going nowhere fast. Their offense is struggling to put points on the board and their defense is struggling to get stops. They’re almost certainly going to be picking near the top of the draft, and as such are swinging into full-on rebuild mode. 

Perhaps the first sign that they’re truly acknowledging that situation is a trade they swung Wednesday morning. The Giants traded defensive tackle Damon Harrison to the Detroit Lions in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick. 

Harrison, who spent the first four years of his NFL career with the Jets, signed a five-year, $46.25 million contract with the Giants before the 2016 season. Along with Olivier Vernon and Janoris Jenkins, he helped remake their defense overnight and lead the team to the playoffs in 2016. That defense has fallen off sharply since then, even while Harrison has maintained his high level of play. 

Harrison’s strength against the run is surely the reason the Lions targeted him here. Detroit opponents gained an NFL-high 5.3 yards per carry through the first seven weeks of the season, and they yielding monster rushing performances to the Jets, 49ers, and Cowboys early this season. The league has been trending toward pass-heavy offenses for a while now, but when a team is as bad against the run as Detroit, the issue does need to be addressed. Lions coach Matt Patricia coached in New England for years and knows how much impact a monster run stuffer can have in the middle of the defense from his experience with Vince Wilfork. 

New York could perhaps make a few more deals inside the next week or so, with the trade deadline looming next Tuesday. There is no shortage of players who could yield draft-pick compensation from other teams looking to make upgrades. 

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