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Potential Bargain Free Agent Finds for the NY Football Giants

New York Giants Offseason 2018

NFL Free AgencyThe 2018 NFL offseason is upon us! The New York Football Giants have a lot of strategizing to do to prepare for the 2018 NFL Season which begins with Free Agency.  The Giants currently have 20 Free Agents (Restricted/Unrestricted) coupled with a little over $24.5M in Cap Space. This is quite the predicament when coupled with the OBJ contract situation, revamping the offensive line, and signing a draft class that is estimated to cost somewhere in the region of $10.6M.

Let’s take a quick look at who is a free agent on each side of the ball and a few potential “bargain” additions.

Offensive Free Agents

Name PFF Grade POS Age Snaps Status
Brett Jones 63.9 C 26 966 RFA
D.J. Fluker 42.3 OG 27 446 UFA
Geno Smith 77.4 QB 27 66 UFA
John Greco 77.6 OG 33 105 UFA
Justin Pugh 52.4 OT 28 436 UFA
Orleans Darkwa 68.4 HB 26 314 UFA
Shane Vereen 48 HB 29 324 UFA
Tavarres King 62.6 WR 28 393 UFA
Weston Richburg 71.3 C 27 241 UFA

The table above illustrates the Giants biggest need – Offensive Line. For the purpose of this article, we are going to make a few calls. Which center do they attempt to resign? Weston Richburg or Brett Jones? I would lean towards Jones as the cost-effective resign with the Restricted Free Agency (RFA) status vs. the Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA) status. Richburg most likely will draw more interest in the Free Agent market. Justin Pugh’s status as a Giant is going to be dictated by his market value, which is currently estimated at $5.9M annually. Ereck Flowers is also a potential cut, which would result in zero cap savings.

Potential Offensive CAP Casualties/Cuts

Name Potential CAP Saving
Brandon Marshall $5.1M
John Jerry $2.5M
Dwayne Harris $2.45M
Paul Perkins $566K
Total $10.6M

Potential Offensive Free Agent Bargain Finds

RB – Here there is definitely room for improvement. Orleans Darkwa and Shane Vereen are both UFAs. I believe Vereen’s time with the Giants is over and Darkwa has a chance to return on a one-year prove-it deal. Wayne Gallman was able to produce quality yards with limited snaps given last season. He averaged 4.3 yards/carry on 111 rushes while securing 34 of 48 targets (71%) for 5.7 yards/reception. Paul Perkins has yet to resemble expectations, making him a potential cap casualty, but likely could return in 2018.

Jerick McKinnon- Here is one Free Agent that could take the lead role in the backfield and is familiar with Pat Shurmur’s system. Also, he is one Free Agent that we think could benefit from a change of scenery.

Year Rush Yds TD Y/A Tgt Rec Yds Y/R TD Ctch%
2016 159 539 2 3.4 53 43 255 5.9 2 81%
2017 150 570 3 3.8 68 51 421 8.3 2 75%
Career 309 1109 5 3.6 121 94 676 7.1 4 78%

McKinnon is averaging 3.6 yds/carry and 7 yds/rec while averaging 60 targets/season and maintaining a reception rate of 78% over the past two seasons. His expected market value is $4M per season which may seem high and not qualify as a “bargain”, but he brings experience in the system, a back that can catch out of the backfield, and some veteran experience to the backfield. He is only 25 years old and had relatively low usage in Minnesota.

This year’s running back draft class is also deep, so they could address this position via the mid to late round picks. I especially like Derrius Guice from LSU possibly in the 3rd round. No, I do not see the Giants taking Barkley at the 2nd pick. Check out my thoughts on that topic Here!

OL – Every NY Football Giants fan with a pulse knows this position group is overdue for an overhaul.  I know everyone following the Giants this offseason is predicting Andrew Norwell will be high on their to-do list and guaranteed addition. I do think that is a possibility especially if Pugh leaves in Free Agency. However, his estimated value of $11.7M annually does not qualify him for this article as a “bargain.”

Fingers are crossed that Shurmur can rebuild this unit like he did in Minnesota last season. The Vikings drafted Pat Elflein in the 3rd round of the 2017 Draft and acquired Reiley Reiff and Mike Remmers in 2017 free agency. Let’s take a look at a potential bargain:

OG – James Hurst made $1.2M total compensation in 2017. In the free agency pool, this season the depth of offensive line talent is limited. The best bargain option for the Giants could be a 4-year pro, who completed his first and only full season at the guard position, James Hurst. In 2017, James Hurst played 1085 snaps, never coming out of a game due to fatigue or injury. His versatility playing both the guard and tackle position, 50% of total snaps in 2015 at tackle, coupled with being only 26 years old, he could be a low risk, high reward signing.

Now, let us take a look at the defensive side of the ball:

Defensive Free Agents

Name 2017 PFF grade Position Age 2017 snaps FA Status
Akeem Ayers 69.4 LB 29 4 UFA
Darryl Morris 69.2 CB 27 114 UFA
Devon Kennard 71 EDGE 27 543 UFA
Jay Bromley 73.2 DT 26 424 UFA
Jonathan Casillas 36.1 LB 31 457 UFA
Keenan Robinson 44.3 LB 29 292 UFA
Kelvin Sheppard 46.5 LB 30 386 UFA
Kerry Wynn 61 DE 27 164 UFA
Mark Herzlich N/A LB 31 0 UFA
Nat Berhe 45.3 S 27 39 UFA
Ross Cockrell 81.6 CB 27 679 UFA

The table above illustrates the Giants have some decisions to make at Linebacker and Cornerback. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is also a potential Cap casualty on the defensive side of the ball. He is carrying a 6.5M cap savings if cut before or after June 1st. The Giants will also be transitioning into a new defensive scheme under James Bettcher, newly named Defensive Coordinator, who ran a 3-4 defensive front in Arizona versus the 4-3 that the Giants have historically run.

Potential Defensive Free Agent Bargain Finds

LB – The Giants have been lackluster at best at the Linebacker position in recent years. One bright spot left over the Reese regime is B.J. Goodson, who showed a ton of promise when healthy last season as the signal caller of the defensive unit. Any Giants fan knows this unit was incapable of covering Tight Ends. Matching up against Zach Ertz, Jason Witten, and when healthy Jordan Reed has been an Achilles heel for the GMEN. There is potential that Olivier Vernon plays some snaps at 34 OLB. There is also potential that the Giants reach out in an attempt to rework his deal. However you look at it the Giants are destined to revamp this position group based solely on the fact that Keenan Robinson, Jonathan Casillas, Kelvin Sheppard,  Devon Kennard, and Akeem Ayers are all Unrestricted Free Agents.

OLBKareem Martin is a very intriguing add! Let’s first consider the fact that he has played in Bettcher’s defensive scheme in Arizona over the past three season. Last season he graded out per PFF at 75.2 while playing 43% of the defensive snaps and 64% on special teams. He is only 26 years old and his best years on the gridiron could very well be in front of him. There will be a very different look to this group in 2018 and the addition of a young player familiar with the system at a reasonable price that also can contribute on special teams is worth the associated risk that comes with Free Agency.

Derrick Johnson and Karlos Dansby are some veteran Free Agents that could also pay dividends in 2018 for the Giants if the price is right!

CB – It was a rough year in 2017 for the Giants secondary team room last season, which has resulted in some uncertainties. Frankly, the only certainty is Jackrabbit (aka Janoris Jenkins) will be playing the Patrick Peterson role in Bettcher’s scheme. Otherwise, DRC could move to safety or be a Cap casualty, only time will tell. Eli Apple presumably has a clean slate moving into 2018 with Gettleman, but his chemistry with the unit is still yet to be determined. Ross Cockrell and Darryl Morris are both Unrestricted Free Agents. This unit lacks depth which could be resolved via Free Agency or the NFL Draft. Here is my favorite potential cost-effective Free Agent addition:

Nickle CBNickell Robey-Coleman is a very interesting and potential bargain free agent. He has a 2017 PFF Grade of 85 and is only 26 years old. He primarily played the slot corner position for the LA Rams in 2017. Robey-Coleman showed flashes of shutdown play last year in the Rams secondary and could demand a decent guarantee on the free agent market. He played in 15 games with two interceptions, one forced fumble, and a career-high 49 tackles. However, the free agent market for cornerbacks is very deep this offseason which could benefit the GMEN in terms of bargaining power. NRC (just wait!)  not only would serve as a versatile corner but as an insurance policy to the Eli Apple uncertainties following last season, as well as a contingency plan for the inevitable departure of DRC.

What under the radar free agent would you like to see Big Blue pursue?

 

Thanks for reading

Kevin Smedley

Kevin Smedley

Lifelong addict of the New York Football Giants! Kevin is currently moonlighting on the Giants beat for the Gridiron Experts. He is a graduate of West Virginia University and an avid follower of all things Mountaineers! Kevin is also a fantasy football aficionado who got started in the late 1990s, known for his chaotic waiver wire moves!

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