As free agency approaches, NFL teams prepare by tying up any loose ends they may have on their roster contract-wise. With the Giants, that began by releasing WR Victor Cruz and RB Rahsad Jennings. They also have intimated that they will not be bringing back TE Larry Donnell and FB Nikita Whitlock.
The team did, however, choose to exercise their option on TE Will Tye and also re-signed TE Matt LaCosse, who spent the 2016 season on injured reserve. This sheds some light on the future of the TE situation, although they will likely seek to add to this group in both free agency and the draft. The Giants took South Carolina’s Jerell Adams in the sixth round of last year’s draft, but Adams did not produce much in the limited time he saw on the field.
It is unlikely the Giants will use the franchise tag on any of their impending free agents and that includes DE Jason Pierre-Paul. The tag price for him is expected to be approximately $17 million for the 2017 season and he has stated he is looking for a long-tern deal. The Giants will hustle to draw one up for him before the March 1 deadline but many believe he could end up testing the free agent waters.
JPP is expected to garner several serious offers from across the league. The Giants are hopeful for a hometown discount after signing him to a one-year, $10 million prove-it deal last March. That probably won’t happen. If he walks, the club will backfill his role with Romeo Okwara, the UDFA out of Notre Dame that filled in for JPP the last month of the season after the former All-Pro underwent surgery to address a sports hernia. They will also target a pass rusher in the upcoming draft.
The other key free agent is DT Johnathan Hankins, who is considered one of the top DTs on the market this March. The Giants love him, but we’ll see just how much when the price starts to rise. The addition of Damon Harrison last year has reduced Hankins’ value to the Giants. They could simply let him go and replace him with a cheaper free agent or through the draft.
LB Keenan Robinson, who emerged as one of the Giants’ top defenders last season after coming aboard as a free agent, is on the market again this year. The Giants would like to retain him but only if the price is right.
The Giants are expected to have a tad over $30 million to play with come next month and a laundry list that consists of offensive line, tight end and running back. The pickings are slim, but they could pick up some useful players at bargain bin prices.
Some offensive tackles they may bid on include Riley Reiff (Detroit) and CIncinnati’s Andrew Whitworth. Neither are long term solutions and Whitworth is 35 years old. Kevin Zeitler of the Bengals and Green Bay’s T.J. Lang are two interior linemen that could pique their interest. One TE they could take a run at is Green Bay’s Jared Cook, but he is rumored to be leaning towards remaining with the Packers.