- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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The big New York Giants news Thursday was not about a player they acquired but rather about one they lost, as team captain and 2013 sack leader Justin Tuck left to sign with the Raiders. Tuck got a decent-but-not-ridiculous two-year, $11 million deal that the Giants elected not to match even though they could have afforded to do so, and they say good-bye to a piece of their heart along with a piece of their defensive line.
Later in the day, they re-signed fullback Henry Hynoski and agreed to terms with former Ravens linebacker Jameel McClain. Neither of those moves is making any headlines this morning in New York, and for good reason. The Giants don't set out to make big-splash headlines in March. They are being methodical in their roster rebuild, confining themselves to players under 30 years old and seemingly targeting specific players instead of just rushing out to fill holes with whoever's available.
But they do still have lots of holes to fill. Their top two choices for a kick returner who can also play wide receiver were Jacoby Jones and Ted Ginn Jr., and they have signed with Baltimore and Arizona, respectively. They poked around on cornerbacks Tracy Porter and Corey Graham, who have signed with Washington and Buffalo. They thought they had signed pass-rush help Tuesday with O'Brien Schofield, but that deal appears dead now due to a knee problem that turned up on Schofield's physical. They are still looking for kick returners, wide receivers, cornerbacks, defensive help, a tight end and a center unless they really think J.D. Walton is going to be their starter there.
The good news is that it's only Day 4, and there are a lot of players still available. The bad news is that, after an encouraging first couple of days of results with guard Geoff Schwartz, running back Rashad Jennings and middle linebacker Jon Beason, they don't seem to be having much success convincing their top choices to join them.
A look at some of the places the Giants may go from here:
I do not expect, in answer to many of your questions, that they will pursue Jared Allen or Julius Peppers for pass-rush help with Tuck gone. Both of them are older than Tuck is and likely to cost more than he did, and both of those things would violate the formula that's emerging. I think the pass rush is basically in the hands of Jason Pierre-Paul, Damontre Moore and Mathias Kiwanuka. If they supplement, it'll likely be at a low level, as was the plan with Schofield. If you're looking for a name, think about Denver's Robert Ayers, though I imagine he's looking for a place where more playing time might be guaranteed.
Hakeem Nicks is visiting with the Colts, talking to the 49ers, supposedly drawing interest from the Panthers ... bit of a market developing for Nicks after all. He's only 26 and a former Giants first-round pick, but the bad experience the Giants had with him in 2013 appears to have overridden the good experiences they had with him in the first four years, and I don't see the Giants getting into any kind of bidding war in an effort to keep him. I also don't see them bringing in 35-year-old Steve Smith to replace him.
Cornerback is interesting, because there's a lot of inventory still out there. Antonio Cromartie? Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie? I thought they'd poke around on Tarell Brown, but to this point they have not. They can still be patient here, since most of what's left out there looks about the same. And yeah, I know they were never going to get in on Darrelle Revis, but I'll never truly understand why they don't swing for the fences at least once in a while.
The top free-agent centers remain unsigned. The Giants had interested in guys like Evan Dietrich-Smith and Brian de la Puente and still could. It wouldn't be a bad thing if they ended up with more good interior offensive line options than they can fit on the field at the same time. After last year, that would be a great problem for the Giants to have.
Tight end Brandon Pettigrew is re-signing with the Lions. Andrew Quarless re-signed with the Packers. I am literally hearing nothing on the Giants and tight ends, and I'm wondering if they're planning to get one in the first two rounds of the draft.
Much more to come, obviously. The Giants still have a lot of work to do, and they work slowly. I'll do my best to keep you posted today and through the weekend.