Jordan Raanan of NJ.com took a look at the New York Giants' salary-cap situation and correctly points out that GM Jerry Reese will have about $20 million with which to work this offseason. A large number, to be sure, and good news for a team that needs improvement in so many areas. But I think it's important to consider how quickly all of that cap room is likely to dry up, since the Giants will have to be active in free agency out of necessity.
About half of the Giants' roster is eligible for free agency. So while money comes off the books because of the expected departures of guys like Hakeem Nicks and Justin Tuck and the potential release of guys like David Baas and Chris Snee (though I think Snee will retire or return on a reduced salary), those guys are going to have to be replaced. The draft is one way to do that, but you know the Giants prefer to use the draft as a means for building and maintaining a deep roster than as a way of improving the team immediately. Plus, realistically, even the absolute best knock-it-out-of-the-park-and-also-get-lucky drafts produce what? Two, maybe three immediate contributors?
No, the Giants are going to have to be smart and somewhat generous in free agency if they expect their 2014 team to be better than the one that just finished 7-9 in 2013. They will almost certainly need to find at least one offensive line starter in free agency, and that is their most likely route for linebacker and running back as well, though they will wisely bargain-hunt there. Even if they decide they can spend their first-round pick on one of the great wide receiver prospects coming out in this year's draft, they might need to add depth at that position in free agency. And we haven't even talked about the defensive line, which they always address.
The Giants and Reese have a lot of work to do this offseason. It's good that they have the cap room with which to do it. But don't get carried away with hope because that number is so big. The reason it's big is because of how many holes the Giants need to fill.