Mar 072014
 
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Geoff Schwartz, Kansas City Chiefs (August 24, 2013)

Geoff Schwartz – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2014 NFL Free Agency Preview: Whether some want to admit it or not, the New York Giants are rebuilding. It’s not a full-fledged rebuild because – assuming Eli Manning rebounds in 2014 – the Giants still have their franchise quarterback in place. But for the first time since the beginning of the Tom Coughlin era in 2004, this team has the feel of one that needs a major infusion of talent across the board. Personally, I do not think this will be a quick fix. Armed with only six draft picks (possibly another late pick when the compensatory picks are awarded), too much much needs to be done. But the Giants can be competitive in the unimpressive NFC East with a strong free agent signing period and draft.

Adding to the uncertainty is the fact that the Giants have never had this many of their own players not under contract. Not counting two who have retired (Brandon Jacobs and David Diehl), the Giants have 27 free agents. Twenty-five of those 27 will be unrestricted. Most will probably not return. It’s conceivable that the Giants may turn over half their roster. And it’s not just the numbers, but the stature of the players they have lost or will be losing. In addition to Diehl and Jacobs, Hakeem Nicks, Justin Tuck, Linval Joseph, Corey Webster, Aaron Ross, Terrell Thomas, and Kevin Boothe may all be gone. Tough decisions still need to be made on Chris Snee and David Baas.

This team will look far, far different in 2014. Things might get worse before they get better.

As for the New York Giants approach to free agency, General Manager Jerry Reese said at the NFL Combine:

The last couple of years it’s been a pretty saturated market. If there are guys you like and you have the money, you can go get them. But if you can hold your water there will probably be some guys available in the second and third wave (of free agency)…If you have the funds available to extend (your own) guys and tie them up, we’ve done that a lot in the past. We think right now it’s best to see what the market is and make our move from there.

Quarterback (Minimal Need): Whether you agree or not, Eli Manning is entrenched as the starter. Ryan Nassib must become the #2 in 2014, allowing the Giants to carry only two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster again, or his selection in the 4th round of the 2013 NFL Draft looks more dubious. The Giants will re-sign Curtis Painter or add another quarterback for an additional arm in camp.

New York Giants Free Agents:

  • Curtis Painter (UFA)

Running Back (Major Need): The worst group of running backs in the NFL The only running backs on the Giants who are currently under contract or don’t have significant injury concerns are Michael Cox and Kendall Gaskins. Injury-prone Andre Brown is a free agent, and even if he is re-signed, how much can the Giants really rely on him? David Wilson’s future is still clouded with a career-threatening neck injury and inconsistent play on the football field. Who is the bell cow on offense? There is a very good chance that the Giants’ starting running back will be an unrestricted free agent signed from another team.

New York Giants Free Agents:

  • Andre Brown (UFA)
  • Peyton Hillis (UFA)
  • Da’Rel Scott (UFA – not tendered RFA)

UFA’s of Note:

  • RB Ben Tate, Houston Texans
  • RB Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders
  • RB Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos
  • RB LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots
  • RB Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars
  • RB Rashad Jennings, Oakland Raiders
  • RB Toby Gerhart, Minnesota Viking

Fullback (Minor Need): John Conner was impressive in his first season with the Giants as a lead blocker. He also flashed some receiving skills. Even if Henry Hynoski was not coming off of a couple of serious injuries, Conner may in fact be an upgrade.

New York Giants Free Agents:

  • Henry Hynoski (UFA – not tendered RFA)

Wide Receivers (Substantial Need): The Giants have Victor Cruz and then question marks. It is assumed Hakeem Nicks will leave in free agency. Much depends on the development of Rueben Randle and Jerrel Jernigan. Regardless, the Giants will need to add at least one quality wide receiver in free agency or the draft.

New York Giants Free Agents:

  • Hakeem Nicks (UFA)
  • Louis Murphy (UFA)

UFA’s of Note:

  • WR Eric Decker, Denver Broncos
  • WR Golden Tate, Seattle Seahawks
  • WR Julian Edelman, New England Patriots
  • WR James Jones, Green Bay Packers
  • WR Emmanuel Sanders, Pittsburgh Steelers
  • WR Andre Roberts, Arizona Cardinals
  • WR Sidney Rice, Seattle Seahawks

Tight Ends (Major Need): The worst group of tight ends in the NFL. The Giant do not have a starting-caliber tight end on the roster unless the physically-talented Adrien Robinson and/or Larry Donnell come on like gangbusters. Brandon Myers was a disappointment, seems best suites as a role player, and probably won’t be back. Bear Pascoe is just a guy. Journeyman street free agent Daniel Fells may be the best of the bunch on the current roster.

New York Giants Free Agents:

  • Brandon Myers (UFA)
  • Bear Pascoe (UFA)

UFA’s of Note:

  • TE Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers
  • TE Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit Lions
  • TE Scott Chandler, Buffalo Bills

Offensive Line (Major Need): The worst offensive line in the NFL. The Giants currently have one starter who they can count on: Justin Pugh. The Giants may bring back over-priced and injury-prone Chris Snee and David Baas if both will agree to pay cuts. But even if they do remain, their lack of durability over the last few seasons is a major concern. In addition, Will Beatty is coming off of a poor season and a serious leg fracture in the season finale. Kevin Boothe is free agent and may not be back. David Diehl has thankfully retired. None of the back-ups inspire a great deal of confidence. Other than using stopgaps, the Giants need so much help here it is doubtful they will be able to address it all in one offseason.

New York Giants Free Agents:

  • Kevin Boothe (UFA)
  • Jim Cordle (UFA – not tendered RFA)
  • Dallas Reynolds (ERFA)

UFA’s of Note:

  • OT Eugene Monroe, Baltimore Ravens
  • OT Jared Veldheer, Oakland Raiders
  • OT Branden Albert, Kansas City Chiefs
  • OT Collins, Cincinnati Bengals
  • OT/OG Rodger Saffold, St. Louis Rams
  • OT Michael Oher, Baltimore Ravens
  • OT Zach Strief, New Orleans Saints
  • OG Jon Asamoah, Kansas City Chiefs
  • OG Geoff Schwartz, Kansas City Chiefs
  • OG Zane Beadles, Denver Broncos
  • OG Travelle Wharton, Carolina Panthers
  • OC Alex Mack, Cleveland Browns (Transition Tag)
  • OC Evan Dietrich-Smith, Green Bay Packers

Defensive Line (Potentially Substantial Need): The defensive line is the heart of a 4-3 defense. While much of the attention by Giants’ fans has been rightfully directed at the problems on offense, the defensive line continues to undergo a major transition. And it remains an open question as to whether the Giants can remain as strong here moving forward in 2014 and beyond. Much depends on whether Jason Pierre-Paul can rebound, and the overall talent and development of Damontre Moore and Johnathan Hankins. Mathias Kiwanuka is solid, but not a standout. It looks like the Giants are prepared to say good-bye to Linval Joseph, who many thought would be a long-term building block. Depth at defensive tackle could be a concern. If Justin Tuck’s NYG career is over, will the Giants get enough out of Moore and Kiwanuka to adequately replace him?

New York Giants Free Agents:

  • Justin Tuck (UFA)
  • Linval Joseph (UFA)
  • Mike Patterson (UFA)
  • Shaun Rogers (UFA)

UFA’s of Note:

  • DE Michael Johnson, Cincinnati Bengals
  • DE Lamarr Houston, Oakland Raiders
  • DE Michael Bennett, Seattle Seahawks
  • DE Everson Griffen, Minnesota Vikings
  • DE Jared Allen, Minnesota Vikings
  • DE Arthur Jones, Baltimore Ravens
  • DE/DT Red Bryant, Seattle Seahawks
  • DE Tyson Jackson, Kansas City Chiefs
  • DE Willie Young, Detroit Lions
  • DT Jason Hatcher, Dallas Cowboys
  • DT Henry Melton, Chicago Bears
  • DT B.J. Raji, Green Bay Packers
  • DT Randy Starks, Miami Dolphins
  • DT Pat Sims, Oakland Raiders
  • DT Clinton McDonald, Seattle Seahawks

Linebackers (Substantial Need): The only linebackers current under contract are Jacquian Williams, Allen Bradford, Marcus Dowtin, and Spencer Adkins. Spencer Paysinger, who was tendered as a restricted free agent, will likely be re-signed. Even if Jon Beason is re-signed, his significant injury history (Achilles, ACL-microfracture surgery) suggests having a solid reserve behind him. Unless Paysinger and Williams come on, the Giants still lack a consistent, play-maker outside.

New York Giants Free Agents:

  • Jon Beason (UFA)
  • Spencer Paysinger (RFA)
  • Keith Rivers (UFA)
  • Mark Herzlich (UFA – not tendered RFA)

UFA’s of Note:

  • LB Brandon Spikes, New England Patriots
  • LB Karlos Dansby, Arizona Cardinals
  • LB Daryl Smith, Baltimore Ravens
  • LB Perry Riley, Washington Redskins

Defensive Backs (Substantial Need): As long as Antrel Rolle (high cap figure) and Will Hill (off-the-field issues) are in the picture, the Giants are in much better shape at safety, especially if they can re-sign either Stevie Brown or Ryan Mundy. Also keep in mind that the team has high hopes for Cooper Taylor. The need is far greater at cornerback where Prince Amukamara is the only consistent, proven veteran. If he were to get hurt, the Giants would be in deep, deep trouble. The only cornerbacks currently under contract are Amukamara, Jayron Hosley, Charles James, and four practice squad players.

New York Giants Free Agents:

  • Trumaine McBride (UFA)
  • Terrell Thomas (UFA)
  • Corey Webster (UFA)
  • Aaron Ross (UFA)
  • Ryan Mundy (UFA)
  • Stevie Brown (UFA)

UFA’s of Note:

  • S Jairus Byrd, Buffalo Bills
  • S T.J. Ward, Cleveland Browns
  • S Malcolm Jenkins, New Orleans Saints
  • S Donte Whitner, San Francisco 49ers
  • S Louis Delmas, Detroit Lions
  • CB Alterraun Verner, Tennessee Titans
  • CB Aqib Talib, New England Patriots
  • CB Vontae Davis, Indianapolis Colts
  • CB Sam Shields, Green Bay Packers
  • CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Denver Broncos
  • CB Walter Thurmond, Seattle Seahawks

Kickers (Minor if Josh Brown is re-signed): Steve Weatherford is under contract. The Giants apparently would like to re-sign Josh Brown.

New York Giants Free Agents:

  • Josh Brown (UFA)

Notes:

UFA – Unrestricted Free Agent
RFA – Restricted Free Agent
ERFA – Exclusive Rights Free Agent

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Eric Kennedy

Founder and owner of BigBlueInteractive.com, which is now entering its 20th season. Follow Eric on Twitter @BigBlueInteract.

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