Possible Giants defensive coordinator candidates after Wink Martindale resignation

The Giants are in the market for a new defensive coordinator after the resignation of Wink Martindale. Here are a few highly regarded candidates:

Antonio Pierce

Will he be hired as the full-time Raiders head coach after going 5-4 as the interim head coach? That is the popular wish in Las Vegas, but it is up to mercurial owner Mark Davis. Pierce, 45, is Giants royalty as the brainy and spirited middle linebacker on the Super Bowl XLII championship team. He has never been a defensive coordinator in the NFL but is a natural leader. He was the defensive coordinator at Arizona State in 2021. In his debut as the interim head coach in Week 9, Pierce’s team smacked around the Giants 30-6.

Antonio Pierce became the Raiders’ interim head coach after Josh McDaniels was fired. Getty Images

Leslie Frazier

Frazier was the defensive coordinator in Buffalo when Brian Daboll ran the Bills’ offense and there is familiarity and mutual respect here. Frazier, 64, spent the 2023 season out of football and now wants to get back in, preferably as a head coach. He was 21-32-1 as the Vikings’ head coach for three-plus seasons and is considered to be a level-headed presence around a team.

Jerome Henderson

Popular throughout the building, Henderson, 54, was called “the best defensive backs coach in the league’’ by Martindale and figures to be the top in-house candidate, perhaps along with defensive line coach Andre Patterson. Henderson was an NFL defensive back but has never been a coordinator at any level in an NFL coaching career that started with the Jets in 2007.

Matt Patricia

Here is another veteran coordinator with strong ties to Daboll from their time together working under Bill Belichick with the Patriots. Patricia, 49, had a failed run as the Lions head coach and has gone through a rough stretch as the Eagles defensive play-caller.

Matt Patricia became the Eagles’ defensive play-caller late in the 2023 season. Getty Images

Jesse Minter

Minter’s defense at Michigan was the backbone of the Wolverines’ undefeated regular season and playoff run. The 40-year old has NFL experience as the Ravens’ defensive backs coach.

Jim Leonhard

This is a wild-card entry. Leonhard, 41, spent 10 years in the NFL as a smart and overachieving defensive back and punt returner — he was a big favorite of Rex Ryan’s with the Jets. A former Wisconsin player, defensive coordinator and interim head coach with the Badgers, he was a senior analyst at Illinois this past season and last year reportedly turned down the Packers’ defensive coordinator job.

Patrick Graham was the Giants’ defensive coordinator for two seasons under Joe Judge. AP

Patrick Graham

Do not forget that Daboll wanted to hire Graham in 2022 — they had worked together in New England — but Graham opted to leave to run the Raiders’ defense. Graham, 44, was the Giants’ defensive coordinator for Joe Judge.

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