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Monday, March 12, 2012
Giants free agency primer

By Ohm Youngmisuk

We are one day away from free agency. The Giants have cleared nearly $12 million in cap space by restructuring Eli Manning's contract and releasing Brandon Jacobs.

But it remains to be seen exactly where they are cap-wise. ProFootballTalk.com reported on Sunday that the Giants were at $3.8 million over the cap as of 4:00 p.m. ET on Friday, March 9. And as PFT points out, that doesn't include any transactions after that time which likely means Jacobs' release is not reflected in that cap number. It's believed that the Giants are just under the $120.6 million projected salary cap.

And they will be one of 28 teams to receive an additional $1.6 million of cap space because of the punishments handed down to the Cowboys and Redskins for front-loading contracts during the uncapped 2010 season according to ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter.

So Jerry Reese may still need to do some maneuvering but it certainly sounds as if he has some flexibility. Here are some of the biggest questions facing the Giants entering free agency and a quick look at some of the top free agents on the Giants roster and some other free agents that could be on their radar.

Below is a whole list of their own free agents:

Exclusive rights free agents:
TE Jake Ballard -- Re-signed
TE Bear Pascoe -- Will return.

Restricted free agents:
CB Bruce Johnson -- Re-signed

Unrestricted free agents:
CB Will Blackmon -- Saw some time on special teams as a returner but Giants need to upgrade at returner. Coaching staff likes Blackmon.
CB Michael Coe -- Was on IR with an injury but Giants can use depth in secondary.
CB Aaron Ross -- Giants want Terrell Thomas back but what happens if they can't come to terms? They've had discussions with Ross, who likely will be looking for a starting job, but nothing serious yet.
CB Terrell Thomas -- Both sides want each other but at what price coming off ACL injury?
CB Justin Tryon -- Impressed Tom Coughlin before landing on IR.
DE Dave Tollefson -- Popular member of the team and provided great depth but likely could get more on market than Giants willing to offer.
DT Rocky Bernard -- Giants brought him back last year on the cheap and could again this year.
DT Jimmy Kennedy -- Largely inactive most of last season.
LB Chase Blackburn -- Huge addition late in the season. Can the Giants bring him back on the cheap? Giants have had some discussions with the linebacker.
LB Jonathan Goff -- Giants want the MLB, who is coming off an ACL injury. Hard seeing him not returning but then again same could be said about Steve Smith and Kevin Boss last year.
OT Stacy Andrews -- His brother, Shawn, tweeted that Andrews is healthy after a blood-clot scare that landed him in IR. Giants liked him as extra blocker when healthy.
OT Kareem McKenzie -- Long-time RT expected to move on in free agency.
OT Tony Ugoh -- Filled in for Andrews as extra blocker.
P Steve Weatherford -- Franchised so he will be back. Punter wants long-term deal.
S Deon Grant -- Loved by teammates and Perry Fewell's third safety. Can Giants re-sign him for vet minimum?
S Derrick Martin -- Provided team with much-needed depth after injuries to secondary.
QB David Carr -- Quality backup for Manning. Be nice to have him back.
WR Michael Clayton -- Veteran contributed on special teams before landing on IR with injury.
WR Domenik Hixon -- Re-signed.
WR Mario Manningham -- Expected to depart via free agency for bigger money and bigger role.
WR Devin Thomas -- Came up big on special teams in the NFC Championship.