NFL teams have already begun paring their rosters and trying to get under the expected 2016 salary cap, and the New York Giants aren’t any different.
Coming off a disappointing 6-10 campaign, Big Blue kick-started the process, last week, by releasing offensive tackle Will Beatty, guard Geoff Schwartz, and linebacker Jon Beason. All three were injury prone players – particularly Beason, who retired upon his release.
The cuts were a telling sign considering all three positions were spots of need on the battered and thin Giants roster. But there are still a handful of players on the roster who are set to be free agents that must be reviewed. The re-signing of a team’s own free agents is a vital piece of the free agency process, and Big Blue has no shortage of key players, including defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul, Cullen Jenkins, George Selvie, and Robert Ayers, cornerback Prince Amukamara, wideouts Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle, kicker Josh Brown, linebacker Jasper Brinkley, and long snapper Zak DeOssie. It’s highly unlikely all return, and just as unlikely the team uses its franchise tag on any of them, but it is still a solid group of veterans that could be of use.
Of the aforementioned, only Amukamara would seem worthy of the tag, but with the amount being $13.05 million for cornerbacks, it’s a slim chance.
Franchise tags aside, the free agency period earnestly begins on March 9 and general manager Jerry Reese will have to buck the trend of penny-pinching and actually go after high-profile players to help this middling roster.
New York will definitely have the funds this offseason to go splurging, as the projected salary cap will hover around $154 million. The Giants will be roughly $58 million under that projected number, which means they could be major players – if Reese chooses. While he’s never been known to open the checkbook too wide, it should be noted the general manager is on the hot seat -- as there’s no one else to blame for the Giants’ recent losing ways -- so he may have to go outside his comfort zone to appease team owner John Mara.
Big Blue notes:
-The Giants have six draft picks – as they traded a conditional seventh-round pick to Pittsburgh for punter Brad Wing -- including the 10th overall selection.
-The list of star players to hit the market – and who may also be too pricey for Big Blue – include Kansas City free safety Eric Berry, Chicago wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey, New York Jets defensive end Muhammed Wilkerson, Buffalo offensive tackle Cordy Glenn, and Carolina cornerback Josh Norman.
-The more realistic options would be a list that includes Tennessee free safety Michael Griffin, New Orleans guard Jahari Evans, Atlanta strong safety William Moore, Philadelphia wide receiver Riley Cooper, Miami defensive end Olivier Vernon, Seattle pass rusher Bruce Irvin, San Diego tight end Ladarius Green, Oakland offensive tackle Donald Penn, Cleveland offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz (Geoff’s brother), Denver guard Evan Mathis, Baltimore guard Kelechi Osemele, San Francisco defensive tackle Ian Williams, New York Jets defensive tackle Damon Harrison, Denver linebackers Brandon Marshall and Danny Trevathan, Los Angeles Rams cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson, Cincinnati strong safety George Iloka, and San Diego safety Eric Weddle.
-Martin Mayhew was hired away from Detroit to work closely with assistant general manager Kevin Abrams on all aspects of the salary cap, CBA compliance, and player contract negotiations. He will also handle special projects as assigned by Reese. Mayhew’s track record isn’t sterling, however, as all of his 2010 and 2011 Detroit draft picks are no longer with the franchise.