So far, so good for the Giants in free agency. I have certainly been critical of Giants GM Jerry Reese in the past, and rightfully so. Last offseason and the start of this offseason has been nothing short of fantastic. Reese hopes to now take his team from the playoffs to champions once again. He has been the steward twice over as he put together a roster that hoisted the Vince Lombardi Trophy and added to the trophy collection at the Giants’ facility.
The strength of the Giants in 2016 was without question their defense. You watched some players grow into difference makers like Landon Collins, and others like Damon Harrison live up to their free agent contracts. Going into this offseason, the Giants needed to retain Jason Pierre-Paul before they could focus on other free agents. They did just that by placing the franchise tag on the talented defensive end and guaranteeing him around $17 million dollars for the 2017 season unless a long-term deal can be reached.
They also need to focus on the offensive line, and I am not sure that the signing of former Charger DJ Fluker to a one-year deal on Saturday solves their tackle issues, but it certainly provides an option to the disappointment that was Ereck Flowers at left tackle in 2016.
Once Reese and the Giants organization made the decision to part ways with Victor Cruz, there was an opening at the wide receiver position. The Giants not only needed an outside receiver with Odell Beckham Jr. on the opposite side and Sterling Shepard in the slot. But they needed a receiver that could hopefully provide some leadership for a wideout room that has shown that could definitely use it.
Last Wednesday, the Giants signed former Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall to a two-year contract worth $12 million dollars. It makes perfect sense and he is the player the Giants need on offense. He is a big target at 6 foot 4 and is a difficult cover. He will be a red zone target and has the toughness to make the difficult catch over the middle while taking a hit. He also has the catch radius that quarterback Eli Manning has to love. He certainly had success working with Plaxico Burress in the past and should have similar success throwing to Marshall.
Certainly, Brandon Marshall has been known to speak his mind — and that was the case with the Jets and that will continue to be the case with the Giants. He apparently will no longer be appearing weekly on “Inside the NFL,” but will certainly make his thoughts known on TV and radio and in the paper and online nonetheless. I would not worry about Marshall being a distraction in his first year with the Giants because in his other stops, the issues with Marshall arose the longer he spent with a particular team.
After being traded from the Broncos, his initial seasons with the Dolphins, Bears and Jets were great. Even coming off of a down season with the Jets, management at Florham Park reportedly wanted to bring him back, but Marshall declined and asked for his release. At 32 years old, he needed a fresh start and wanted a chance to win sooner rather than later and the Jets are in the midst of a rebuild.
Marshall will be able to provide the real-life experiences on and off the field that young players should gravitate toward. After all, he has been an elite-level player and has been a difference maker for the majority of his career. So he can certainly speak to Beckham as the same level of player even if their respective skill set is slightly different. I don’t think Marshall needs to be a leader in every sense of the word for the entire Giants team, just in the receiver room. He readily admitted after the signing that he chose the Giants because he wants an opportunity to win, which was no longer present with the Jets. He should be on his best behavior and very productive in 2017 as the Giants look to not only make the playoffs, but win the Super Bowl. All the Giants’ issues are not answered so far, but it is a nice start for Reese this offseason. Brandon Marshall helps to solve an issue both on the field and off of it and the Giants are certainly better off with him.