Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Free-agency review: Giants
By Dan Graziano
Most significant signing: We'll go with the most expensive and most recent one, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who signed for five years and $39 million ($15 million guaranteed) on Monday evening. He completes the Giants' project of deepening and strengthening themselves at cornerback, will allow newly signed Walter Thurmond to handle the slot, and will help make sure Antrel Rolle can focus completely on safety. Prior to the Rodgers-Cromartie signing, guard Geoff Schwartz was the winner here.
Most significant loss: Defensive end Justin Tuck, who was a co-captain and two-time Super Bowl champion, had 11 sacks last season. What's lost with Tuck isn't just the sacks but also his ability (and willingness) to do the inglorious run-defense work that not every pass-rushing defensive end likes to do. And the biggest loss might be in leadership. Tuck was a link to glory days and an anchor for young and old players in the meeting rooms, on the field and in the locker room. He will be very difficult to replace. The honorable mention here goes to defensive tackle Linval Joseph, who is only 25 and for some reason didn't even merit a serious effort to keep.
Biggest surprise: Desperately needing a new center, the Giants committed a surprising amount of money to former Broncos center J.D. Walton, who hasn't played since Week 4 of 2012 due to a significant ankle injury. Walton is an upside play for the Giants, but the $3 million in guaranteed money in his two-year contract indicates the Giants expect him to play. At this point, he's the only center they have, and they wouldn't seem to have enough to make a big play to upgrade.
What's next? The Giants still have many needs, even beyond those we've already addressed here on the offensive and defensive lines. They could use a wide receiver to replace Hakeem Nicks, and they don't have a tight end on the roster who's qualified to start an NFL game. My guess is they'll look to address the defensive line rotation next in free agency and then use the first and second rounds of the draft to add weapons and protection for Eli Manning.