Offseason Preview: New York Giants
The New York Giants find themselves in a purgatory-style offseason. They have a solid core of young players on their roster, but they still have significant holes to fill and are projected to have very little salary cap space. Let’s take a look at the Giants’ outlook leading up to the start of the league year and free agency.
The Nate Solder Contract
Giants offensive tackle Nate Solder stands out as the greatest disparity between his quality of play and the size of his paycheck. His contract is considered one of the worst in the NFL. Solder remained the starter in previous seasons because the Giants simply had no other options. With Solder sitting out the 2020 season, the Giants were forced to explore other options and a new chemistry appeared to form through a Solder-less offensive line throughout the season.
Both Solder and the Giants’ front office appear to be willing to move on and put this contract behind them. As it stands right now, the Giants would incur $10.5 million in dead money if they were to release Solder today. They can spread that penalty across 2022 if they designate Solder as one of the team’s two “Post June 1” releases. This appears to be the most likely outcome, but Solder remaining with the team remains a possibility because of Dave Gettleman’s aversion to incurring cap hits and the public perception of admitting to a mistake.
Free Agents To Be
The Giants have a few big names at the top of their list of impending free agents followed by a list of valuable depth players. Let’s look at some of the most notable free agents.
- DT Leonard Williams – Had the best season of his career and is due for a big pay day. If the Giants can only bring back one free agent, it should be Williams. He won’t come cheap and could demand a top 5 contract for his position.
- EDGE Kyler Fackrell – joined the Giants last offseason as a value-level pass-rusher. He could return for a lower cap figure.
- RT Cameron Fleming – could be the recipient of the Nate Solder cap savings if his contract is terminated. He filled in valiantly at right tackle last season.
- DT Dalvin Tomlinson - is one of the top rush defenders in the league, but is limited in terms of his pass rush skills. He excelled next to Leonard Williams and has a decent chance of returning to the team.
- RB Wayne Gallman – started most games for the Giants in Saquon Barkley’s absence and excelled in his opportunities. The Giants will likely try to retain him, but he may have opportunities to join a running back committee in another backfield.
- WR Golden Tate? - is technically still under contract, but it is widely believed that he will be released. The giants can save over $6 million if they release him ($8.5 million if post June 1). He could be re-signed at a lower rate depending on his interest on the market.
Free Agent Options
The Giants are not expected to bring in any high-profile free agents this offseason (other than possibly retaining Leonard Williams) as a result of their salary cap situation. With that in mind, the team still has several holes to fill. If they follow the path most expect, their top needs will be wide receiver, offensive line, and pass rusher. Let’s take a look at some budget-friendly options on the free agent market.
The Giants are in desperate need of an X-receiver. Sterling Shepard is a good slot but can’t win on the outside and Darius Slayton is primarily a Z receiver with his speed and playmaking ability.
- Corey Davis – had the best season of his career in a contract year after underperforming in previous seasons. His asking price may be on the higher range of the Giants’ budget. He has good size and speed and could succeed in an offense where he will not be the only significant receiving option.
- Zay Jones – has failed to find a steady spot with a team, but has the skill set the Giants need. He is a skilled route-runner with good size and reliable hands. He could be signed at a bargain price.
- Dez Bryant – showed he still has some ability left during his brief stint in Baltimore last season. He also has a history with Giants’ OC Jason Garrett.
Interior Offensive Line
The Giants’ offensive line had some highs and lows throughout last season. More consistency and a skilled veteran to help Andrew Thomas develop would be valuable.
- Michael Schofield – a seasoned veteran with 4 years of starting experience (7-year career). He has very good technique that allows him to excel despite some physical limitations.
- J.R. Sweezy – one of the most recognizable interior offensive line names in the league. Sweezy has been a consistent starter over his entire career, but is on the wrong side of 30, so he could come at a bargain.
The Giants were one of the top rush-defending teams in the league but struggled to get to the passer. They need some help to take some of the pressure off James Bradberry.
- Ryan Kerrigan – has been an opponent of the Giants for his entire career in Washington. He’s one of the most underrated players in the league. He’s accumulated 10+ sacks every year except for this most recent season. He may be available at a fair price entering his age-33 season.
- Olivier Vernon – had the 2nd-most sacks of his career last season and has familiarity with the Giants from his two seasons with the team. The relationship between he and Gettleman could be a wildcard, but familiarity in an offseason with limited face-to-face interaction holds a lot of value.