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This is March. Yes, March Madness brackets were just released yesterday, but the NFL Legal Tampering Period opens, and the offseason frenzy begins. All eyes are on Dave Gettleman and Joe Judge to fill the wholes to help guide the Giants back into the playoffs. Last season, we saw the team bring on phenomenal talent in James Bradberry, Blake Martinez, and Graham Gano. What can we expect from this season?
Coming into this offseason, the cap space issue was eye-opening for New York. The team made some cost-saving measures that leave some holes but help create cap space. Golden Tate and Kevin Zeitler both were cut, while Nate Solder restructured his contract to return with the GMen.
The Giants have the potential to be competitive after a decent year under new leadership. The pieces are there, but they aren't there quite yet. With limited cap and some variables to figure out, Dave Gettleman and Company have a lot of work to do. Let's dive right into it.
The biggest news coming out of the Meadowlands is that the Giants placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on star defensive lineman, Leonard Williams, for the second consecutive year. The goal with the tag is to have it serve as a placeholder, with the intention of signing him to a long-term deal. After a career season, Williams deserves the pay raise, and the ball is in his court on how much he wants to earn. Hopefully, the two sides can agree to a friendly deal, but you don't know what to expect. The Giants are comfortable in the $20M per year range, while Williams is seeking north of $25M. There isn't a player in free agency that would fill the void of Williams, as he is a perfect piece to the defensive scheme. With that being said, it will be hard to retain another defensive lineman, homegrown talent Dalvin Tomlinson. The Giants and Tomlinson would love to stay together, but it may be a harsh reality that he departs.
Kyle Fackrell and Jabaal Sheard are both impending free agents from the linebacker position. Both are great depth players and it would be nice to see them return, but if the Giants land a true starting linebacker to play alongside Blake Martinez and Lorenzo Carter, then it is okay to see them depart.
One of the team's brightest offensive weapons, Wayne Gallman, is set to hit the free-agent market. When Saquon Barkley fell injury, Gallman stepped up and rushed for over 600 yards and 6 touchdowns. My ideal offensive scheme for the Giants would be to emulate what the Saints are doing. If they can utilize Saquaon similarly to what New Orleans is doing with Alvin Kamara, they can be an elite offense. It takes less wear-and-tear on Saquon and helps create an additional pass-catching option. Gallman proved that he is an impressive rusher and hopefully can remain with the team. The unfortunate reality is that he will be a big target for teams seeking an RB1/RB2. Giants could offer Gallman a “four-year qualifying contract” in which $1.25 million of his salary would not count against the cap.
Then you have two cornerstone players, Tight End Evan Engram and Safety Jabrill Peppers, who are on the fifth and final year of their contracts. Both players are key components to their position, and the Giants should consider locking them into long-term deals if they aren't going to trade them. As much as Engram can be an annoyance, he is a dynamic playmaker and earned himself the Pro-Bowl nod. Jabrill Peppers helps solidify a formidable secondary alongside Bradberry and Logan Ryan. You won't be able to find two players like that in the near future, it makes more sense to extend them to help build upon the present foundation.
Help for Daniel Jones
The Giants need to make moves to improve their offense ASAP. With both Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley on their rookie deals, the time is now to help improve this side of the ball. Even with the talent present, the Giants hold the league’s 31st-ranked offense. Disgusting.
Weapons are needed, but the real work needs to happen up front. As of now, your starting O-Line in some capacity looks like Andrew Thomas-Nate Solder-Will Hernandez-Matt Peart-Shane Lemieux-Nick Gates. Young with some veteran presence, but not good enough to protect Jones. With the departure of Zeitler and most likely Cam Flemming, some new hog mollies need to be signed. Joe Thuney would be ideal but costly. The former Patriot has ties with Judge and would help immensely, but most likely out of the team's price range. Riley Reiff has 119 starts the past eight years, and Veteran tackles Alejandro Villanueva and Kelvin Beachum are also available.
Besides the O-Line, a true number one receiver should be an absolute must. Since the OBJ trade, the team has lacked having a consistent vertical threat. This could be addressed in the draft with the likes of Devonta Smith-Jaylen Waddle-LaMarre Chase combination, but the team should seek an established star. With Allen Robinson being tagged by the Bears, all eyes should be on Kenny Golladay. In 47 career games with Lions, Golladay eclipsed 3,068 rec yards with 21 touchdowns. Those are some Megatron numbers. One of the most underrated and underappreciated receivers, Golladay would provide a major boost to the Giant's offense and would be a dream weapon for the young gunslinger in Daniel Jones. The market for him will be hefty. More affordable options could be Will Fuller, Corey Davis, or Curtis Samuel, all would make impacts on the team, but the cream-of-the-crop is Golladay.
Building Patrick Graham's Army
Fortunately, the Giants have an impressive crew on the defensive side of the ball. There is always room for improvement, and there are a few names that stand out in this year's free agency. Super Bowl winner Shaq Barrett, Steelers standout Bud Dupree, Ravens rusher Matt Judon are price options but they should do their due diligence. Two talented edge rushers and a cornerback recently joined the market after being cut by their respective teams. Kyle Van Noy (Dolphins), Hasson Reddick (Cardinals), and Malcolm Butler (Titans) are players that the Giants should keep on their radar. They would be phenomenal additions and help create a tremendous defense and hope to carry the momentum that took place last season.
At the end of the day, the Giants don't have money to spend like the Jaguars and Patriots, but they can be creative to make these things work. Again, a lot of these players are listed as more of a wish-list rather than an offseason plan. They all won't be Giants, but they should all be on the team's radar. I am confident that the team will make the right decisions and address their needs in the upcoming draft. All the craze may be focused on March Madness, but the offseason NFL craziness is just as prominent. #TogetherBlue