Setting up the Giants on 'Day 1' of free agency


Offically, the new NFL league year begins at 4 pm ET. Officially, that's when teams can start signing other teams' free agents. Of course, if you've been following since Saturday, you know that much of this work has already been done and what will happen at 4 p.m. ET is basically a lot of announcing of deals that have been agreed to for days.

The New York Giants have had a rough pre-free agency period. They targeted New England safety Devin McCourty and Philadelphia pass-rusher Brandon Graham only to see each re-sign with his current team for similar or smaller deals than the Giants were offering. But the Giants are still plugging away and are likely to add some players either today or in the coming days in free agency.

Here's where things stand as of Tuesday morning with the Giants:

  • They continue to have conversations with the representatives for Arizona defensive tackle Dan Williams and Kansas City safety Ron Parker, though they are getting competition from other teams for both players. I'm not sure where they are on defensive end after losing out on Graham, but I did hear some talk Monday night that they could make a run at Lions restricted free agent George Johnson. Detroit gave Johnson an original-round tender, so he wouldn't cost much to sign, but the Lions would have the right to match the offer.

  • I would expect them to add at least one offensive lineman, and I wouldn't be shocked if it turned out to be St. Louis right tackle Joe Barksdale. A tackle signing would indicate a decision to move Justin Pugh from right tackle to one of the guard spots. A guard signing would indicate a decision to keep Pugh at the position he's played his first two years in the league.

  • They are talking to the representatives for several running backs as they look to diversify their options in the run game and add a big-play threat to a stable that includes Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams. Various reports have linked the Giants to Roy Helu, Antone Smith, and even Shane Vereen. I was a bit surprised to see Vereen's name surface Monday night, because my sense was that the Giants were looking for a back to fill a niche role and that some team would be interested in Vereen for a larger role. But in keeping with recent trends, the running back market does not appear to be flush with big offers, and if the Giants do like Vereen, it's possible they could get him for a decent price. A pass-catching back with big-play potential, Vereen would expand the number of creative options at offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo's disposal.

  • The Giants have remained in contact with a few of their own free agents, and it's possible that any or all from a group that includes safety Stevie Brown, linebacker Mark Herzlich, fullback Henry Hynoski, and tight end Daniel Fells could sign before 4 pm ET. I think it's safe to expect Antrel Rolle, Walter Thurmond, Mike Patterson, Jerrel Jernigan, Jacquian Williams, and James Brewer to hit the market and find work elsewhere.

  • The Giants got Jon Beason to agree to a pay cut Monday, which clears about $3 million in cap room and takes them to just under $16 million (accounting for the $14.813 million franchise tag for Jason Pierre-Paul). I don't think the Beason pay cut was to clear cap room for any particular signing or signings, but rather to get Beason's contract in line with his performance after a year in which he missed all of training camp and 12 games because of foot injuries.

  • With Beason back in the fold, the Giants could end up cutting linebacker Jameel McClain if they find themselves in need of more cap room. Cutting McClain would save another $3.1 million, or they could try to talk him into a pay cut and save a little less while also keeping a player they like. Or they could leave his deal alone. It just offers them an option if they need cap room down the road.

  • Cornerback Prince Amukamara's $6.898 million salary for 2015 becomes fully guaranteed as of 4 pm ET. Amukamara is a 2011 first-round draft pick who had his 2015 contract option picked up. The Giants have not approached him about an extension. GM Jerry Reese said at the combine last month that the Giants would need to see Amukamara, who ended the season on injured reserve with a torn biceps tendon, healthy before discussing an extension, and that he considered Amukamara's salary a good price for a starting cornerback. The current free-agent market seems to bear that out.

  • I have heard no talk on an extension for Eli Manning, which is another device available to the Giants that could clear up to $11 million in cap room. At this point, the Giants don't need that cap room and have no reason to extend Manning now unless he's offering them a discount, which he likely won't. The Giants are considering letting Manning play out the final year of his deal, knowing they could franchise or sign him and keep him off the market next winter if it came to that.

More to come throughout the day.