Coach Joe Judge says he wants pending free agent Jabrill Peppers to stay a Giant

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NEW YORK — Joe Judge said Wednesday that he wants impending free agent safety Jabrill Peppers to remain a Giant and that he’s told Peppers that himself.

“This guy is in a contract year,” Judge said. “It’s something I’ve talked to him about directly. He’s a guy that I value a lot in this program. I’d love to have this guy going forward. I’ve told him that directly. He’s been a very good leader for us.”

Peppers, 26, told the New York Daily News on Oct. 15 that he didn’t want to leave, either, nine days before he ruptured his right ACL against the Panthers.

“I’m here to stay. I wanna win,” Peppers said then, with the trade deadline looming. “So that’s where my mind is.”

Peppers, who is now out for the season, could choose to sign somewhere he will play more in the spring.

The Giants reduced the safety’s playing time on defense significantly this season, from 98% of their 2020 snaps when healthy to 56% this fall.

But Judge said he views Peppers, a defensive captain and East Orange, N.J., native, as a critical part of this team’s core and identity.

“You can talk about him being local, that the Giants mean something to him,” Judge said. “I think that’s very important. He’s a guy that loves football, he loves this organization, he loves this area. Those are things we talk about building as cornerstones and pillars of this program. And he’s a very important part of our program.”

Peppers shouldn’t be expensive in free agency given his struggles in pass coverage and his injury. So that could help Judge’s cause to retain him. But it will be up to the player.

Peppers’ final media availability prior to the Carolina game was tense. It wasn’t the first time he’d come off visibly frustrated, definitely with the team’s constant losing, and possibly with his limited role, too.

Eventually, he reiterated his mindset.

“I just want to win, baby,” he said. “I want to make plays, go out there and win ball games.”

He hadn’t been doing either lately with the Giants, but his coach wants him back. So it will be interesting to see how this shakes out.

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