2012 NFL Free Agents: Tracking New York Giants Signings, Targets and Rumors

Jeff ShullAnalyst IFebruary 22, 2012

2012 NFL Free Agents: Tracking New York Giants Signings, Targets and Rumors

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    Available Cap Space (projected)

    The Giants were $6.5 million under the projected new cap, and I spent $17.9 million re-signing players, meaning they would be $11.4 million over the 2012 cap. 

    Caveats

    The thing about the salary cap is I'm adding up the average salaries for each player I re-signed, when in reality the Giants could backload a bunch of the contracts. 

    Another thing is I have not addressed who the Giants could let go to get rid of some cap space. If you take Brandon Jacobs, David Diehl and Osi Umenyiora off the books, that's over $15 million in cap room right there, according to Spotrac.com's numbers for their 2012 cap hit. 

    Combine that with some players who could restructure their deals and you're under the cap already. Unfortunately, this leaves little room for the Giants to do much in the free-agency period, which is what we're looking at if the Giants plan on bringing a bulk of their players back. 

    Not to mention, these values are purely based on my opinion. It could end up costing the Giants a lot less. Unfortunately it could also cost more, but let's hope not. 

Tracking Free Agent Signing, Re-Signings, and Roster Moves

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    March 9, 2012: According to beat writer Mark Garafolo, the Giants will release running back Brandon Jacobs. Apparently the two sides could not come to a financial agreement.

    March 8, 2012: ESPN's Ohm Youngmisuk is reporting that the Giants have re-signed exclusive rights free agents Jake Ballard and Bruce Johnson

    March, 5 2012: ProFootballTalk.com is reporting via their Twitter handle that the Giants have placed the franchise tag on punter Steve Weatherford.

    March 2, 2012: Giants re-sign wide receiver Domenik Hixon to a new contract, who announced the move on his Twitter account Friday. Hixon has missed the previous two seasons due to tearing his right ACL, but the Giants evaluated him at the team facility today and obviously feel comfortable bringing him back. 

    This move has to be in the wake of the news that Mario Manningham will likely sign a deal with another team. The Giants need depth at the wide receiver position, which was decimated by injury in 2010. 

    February 13, 2012: Giants sign Chris White, Craig Marshall and Ryan Purvis to future contracts. White is a veteran guard who spent last season in Giants training camp. His seven-year career includes stints with the Houston Texans, Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks

    Marshall also was with the Giants after being an undrafted free agent out of South Florida in 2011. Jason Pierre-Paul's teammate in college looks to make the roster that might not include Osi Umenyiora this season. 

    Purvis spent the 2010 season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, catching five passes for 28 yards. 

    February 8, 2012: Giants sign nine players that spent most of the season on their practice squad. They are defensive back Brandon Bing, running back Andre Brown, offensive lineman Selvish Capers, receivers Dan DePalma and Isaiah Stanback, defensive tackle Dwayne Hendricks, tight end Christian Hopkins, quarterback Ryan Perrilloux and defensive end Adrian Tracy.

    Brown and Tracy were drafted by the Giants and only Hendricks saw action in the 2011 regular season. 

Salary Cap Status

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    Giants Current Cap Room

    According to Spotrac.com, the Giants currently have $118,052,078 worth of contracts that will count towards their cap number in 2012. That is only approximately $1.5 million under the old cap number in 2011, and according to ESPN's Dan Graziano, the new cap number is going to be fairly close to the old one. 

    For our purposes, let's say we are working with a $125 million cap. The Giants would then only have $6.5 million in cap space, which is not very much, especially considering they must re-sign some of their own free agents to fill out the 53-man roster. 

     

    Contracts That Could be Terminated/Restructured

    For the Giants to clear up some space, they could look to terminate or restructure the contracts of some veteran players. 

    David Diehl is set to make $3.825 million in 2012 and if the Giants can't get him to come down on that number, they will definitely let him go. Same goes for Brandon Jacobs, who has openly said he would restructure his deal so long as it's fair. 

    Jacobs' cap number with bonuses is close to $7 million, according to Spotrac. 

     

    Value Contracts 

    The Giant have a TON of players who are out-performing their contracts. Most notably Jason Pierre-Paul ($3.1 million cap figure) and Victor Cruz ($490,000 cap figure) 

    Cruz could be someone the Giants look to lock up long term, but they might wait and do that further down the road. 

     

    Major Cap Questions

    The biggest issue the Giants are facing is the overwhelming number of free agents (24) and limited cap space to do much with. Mario Manningham, Jonathan Goff, Aaron Ross, Kareem McKenzie and Domenik Hixon are just a handful of free agents the Giants will attempt to bring back. 

Last Year's Holes

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    Offense 

    The Giants may have won the Super Bowl, but there is no question they have some holes to fill. Mainly up front on the offensive side of the ball. 

    The offensive line will likely be losing starting right tackle Kareem McKenzie and in my estimation, the Giants could let starting left guard/tackle David Diehl go as well. They cut Shaun O'Hara and Rich Seubert last season, albeit due to injuries, but obviously they are not afraid to move on. 

    Diehl did not play very well at left guard and is getting old in football years. He will be 32 on Sept. 15, meaning his skills will deteriorate even more. The Giants need to get younger on the offensive line, at every position except center. 

    Tight end is also a huge need for the Giants. Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum tore their ACLs in the Super Bowl and Bear Pascoe is a restricted free agent. There are a ton of free agent names out there that would look good in a Giants uniform at the tight end position. 

     

    Defense

    Not too much to look for here, unless you make some assumptions about free agents. The Giants have four contributing cornerbacks (Aaron Ross, Terrell Thomas, Bruce Johnson (RFA), Will Blackmon), two defensive linemen (Jimmy Kennedy and Rocky Bernard) and both middle linebackers (Jonathan Goff and Chase Blackburn) who are all free agents.

    In all honesty, Thomas, Johnson, Goff and Blackburn are the only ones I see coming back, so the Giants could look to add some corners and defensive tackles in the draft. 

Giants 2012 Free Agents

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    Here is a list of the Giants unrestricted free agents that will be free to sign with another team on March 13 if the Giants can not come to terms on a new contract. 

    WR Mario Manningham

    LB Jonathan Goff

    OT Kareem McKenzie 

    CB Terrell Thomas 

    CB Aaron Ross 

    S Deon Grant 

    P Steve Weatherford Update: ProFootballTalk.com is reporting via their Twitter handle that the Giants have placed the franchise tag on punter Steve Weatherford.

    March 2, 2012:  Giants re-sign wide receiver Domenik Hixon to a new contract, who announced the move on his Twitter account Friday.

    DT Rocky Bernard

    WR Domenik Hixon (re-signed)

    DE Dave Tollefson 

    OT Stacy Andrews 

    LB Chase Blackburn

    CB Will Blackmon

    QB David Carr 

    WR Michael Clayton

    CB Michael Coe 

    DT Jimmy Kennedy 

    S Derrick Martin 

    OT Tony Ugoh 

    WR/KR Devin Thomas 

    CB Justin Tyron 


    The following players are listed as restricted free agents, meaning the Giants would have the opportunity to match any deal presented to the player. 

    TE Bear Pascoe


    The following players are exclusive rights free agents, meaning if the Giants offer them a deal, they can either accept it or retire. No team can sign them if the Giants offer a deal. 

    TE Jake Ballard 

    CB Bruce Johnson

Determining the Worth for Every Giants Free Agent

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    It is easy to forget some of the talented players the Giants had go down prior to the 2011 season. They have 24 players not under contract for next season and several of them could be looking for a raise. 

    Mario Manningham was a hero in Super Bowl XLVI, and while he did not have the best season in 2011, he could still be searching for a long-term deal worth big bucks. He is pretty much the only name that will draw attention from the casual NFL fan, but there are a handful of players that could be vital to the 2012 season. 

    I'm using Spotrac.com to estimate each player's 2012 yearly salary. Obviously I could be way off on some of these numbers, but I'm going to compare their skill sets with other players who are under contract and base it off of that. 

    Remember, these are estimated values. 

    Mario Manningham: $5 million  

    Super Mario will likely expect the Giants to pay him like a top receiver even though he is really the Giants' third option. He could go somewhere else and be a No. 2 receiver and looking at some of the base salaries for the 2012 season, $5 million seemed like a reasonable number. 

    Some comparable numbers for No. 2 wideouts around the league are Steve Breaston ($4.5 million), Earl Bennett ($4.5 million), Jordy Nelson ($4.45 million), Kevin Walter ($4.3 million), Nate Burleson ($5 million) and Hines Ward ($4.97 million). 

    Jonathan Goff: $3.5 million  

    Goff is coming off ACL surgery, so his contract will be no where near what it could have been had he played in 2011. It will be similar to Mathias Kiwanuka's two year, $8.6 million deal. Goff was one of the best run-stoppers in 2010 and if he is healthy, the Giants will look to give him his starting job back. 

    Kareem McKenzie: $1 million 

    McKenzie will be 33 in May and is coming off his worst season as a Giant. He has spent several good years protecting Eli Manning from the right, but I do not see him being re-signed by the team. He could get a call from a desperate team hoping to get the most out of him, but I could honestly see McKenzie retiring a champion. 

    Terrell Thomas: $5 million

    Given that Thomas is coming off his second ACL surgery, the other being in college, he will pay for it, literally. He could be somewhere in the $8-9 million range had he not gotten hurt. He was the Giants best corner and one of their better defenders in 2010. 

    Aaron Ross: $3 million

    Ross played extremely well in the postseason but had one of the worst seasons for a corner in the 2011 regular season. The Giants have plenty of options they could use to replace Ross' production, so if he wants this kind of money I doubt he remains in New York. 

    Deon Grant: $1.5 million

    Grant was a source of inspiration for teammate Antrel Rolle, who says he worked his butt off to get Grant a ring, and entering his 12th season he might be looking to call it quits. Grant showed signs of slowing down last season, so the Giants could let him go. That said, his presence is felt in the locker room as well as the field, so who knows how the front office feels. 

    Steve Weatherford - Update: ProFootballTalk.com is reporting via their Twitter handle that the Giants have placed the franchise tag on punter Steve Weatherford.

    Rocky Bernard: $1.25 million 

    Bernard was a big help for the Giants and their defensive line rotation, but the big man proved last year he wants a higher salary. The Giants cut him due to the two sides not being able to reach an agreement on a pay cut, but then Bernard was brought back after he was unable to sign with anyone else. He is a valuable backup, nothing more, nothing less. 

    Domenik Hixon: $750,000

    Hixon tore his ACL in week two of the 2011 season while making a spectacular play. The Giants were expecting him to share the lost production of Steve Smith with Victor Cruz, but Cruz ended up going off. If Hixon is able to come back healthy, he'll get another opportunity to prove himself. He made $900K last year, so he would take a hit after missing all of 2010 and most of 2011. 

    Dave Tollefson: $750,000 

    Tollefson is a valuable part of the Giants defensive end rotation, but will he look to get a pay raise with another squad? I sure would love to see some more roundhouse kick celebrations. 

    Chase Blackburn: $750,000

    Blackburn came off the streets to help the Giants on their season ending six game win streak, providing to be a huge difference in the run defense. He also came up with Super Bowl XLVI's only turnover, intercepting Tom Brady. That said, he really is not that talented of a linebacker, just was what the Giants needed at the end of last year. Goff is the better option, but Blackburn should be his backup.  

    Stacy Andrews: $800,000  

    Andrews was a useful backup, but I don't know how much time he has left with the Giants. He had a couple stints as an extra blocking tight end this year, so he could be brought back in 2011.  

    Will Blackmon: $685,000 

    Blackmon was signed late in the year primarily for his return capabilities. But given his age and all the other free agents the Giants will be looking to sign, Blackmon is not a priority. 

    David Carr: $800,000 

    Carr seems to enjoy his time with the Giants and now has a ring to show for it. Eli Manning has yet to miss a start in his career, so honestly I could be their backup QB and it wouldn't make a difference.

    Devin Thomas: $1 million

    Devin Thomas made a little more than this last season, but he doesn't provide the Giants much other than a return game. Tom Coughlin places an emphasis on special teams, so Thomas could have a spot on the 2012 roster.  

    Bear Pascoe: $900,000 

    Pascoe is the only remaining tight end on the roster with any regular season experience. He is a good blocker and versatile as he can line up at full back as well. He deserves a bit of a raise. 

    Michael Clayton: $750,000 

    Coughlin really likes Clayton's effort on special teams, but I'm not sure he provides enough to remain on the roster long term. It depends on who the Giants are able to bring back. 

    Michael Coe: $550,000

    Coe has had a couple seasons to prove himself as a reliable backup and has not taken advantage of the opportunities. He mainly contributes on special teams. 

    Jimmy Kennedy: $700,000 

    Kennedy did not play as much after serving a four game suspension for violating the league's substance abuse policy. The Giants typically do not like trouble makers on their team, plus Kennedy could still think he's worth more than he actually is. 

    Derrick Martin $700,000

    Martin is another player who mostly contributed on special teams, but could be presented with an opportunity with Deon Grant maybe not coming back. 

    Tony Ugoh: $700,000

    Ugoh was signed through the middle of last season mostly as an insurance policy. But the former second round pick in 2007 does have some upside. If given the opportunity in camp, maybe he could emerge as a real option for the Giants. 

    Justin Tryon: $550,000

    Tryon wasn't much of an asset during the regular season, but he could be brought back for training camp. 

    Jake Ballard: $1 million

    Despite the fact that Ballard will probably miss most of the 2012 season, the Giants should sign him long-term. He was better than Kevin Boss was in any of his seasons with the Giants and Ballard came a lot cheaper than Boss last season. He deserves a raise and a chance to prove himself in 2013.   

    Bruce Johnson: $800,000 

    If Johnson can be anything like his rookie year in 2009, the Giants have a solid backup option and depth at the cornerback position. But since then Johnson has battled injuries and could be a completely different person than he was back then. 

Projecting Which Free Agents Will Re-Sign, Which Will Walk

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    The Giants have a plethora of decisions to make and not very much cap room to make them with, unless they decide to cut loose some contracts and are able to restructure others. 

    I find players are more willing to restructure deals to keep a Super Bowl champion together, but we'll have to see if the Giants players under contract feel the same. 

    Once again I feel this off season is going to be plagued with some popular players either being cut or let go, but we should trust Jerry Reese and his crew. 

    Mario Manningham: Leaves

    Manninham is going to be getting a lot of attention after his heroics in the Super Bowl and he also had a very good statistical season in 2010. So his worth may be more than what the Giants are willing to pay. 

    Many teams could use the services of Manningham, and the Giants, while they would want him back, probably won't be able to afford him. 

    Jonathan Goff: Re-signs 

    The Giants are definitely appreciative of Chase Blackburn, but there is a high possibility they will make Goff their starting linebacker of the future. He was one of the best run-stuffers in 2010, and if it weren't for an ACL injury that took him out of the 2011 season, he would be commanding big dollars now. 

    As I said before, his contract will have to be similar to that of Mathias Kiwanuka's, who had to prove himself after a neck injury kept him out of most of the 2010 season. Kiwanuka got a two-year deal and Goff will get the same. 

    Estimated Contract: Two years, $7 million

    Kareem McKenzie: Leaves

    McKenzie has given the Giants many solid years and anchored two Super Bowl championship lines from the right side. But his services with the Giants could be over. He regressed significantly in 2011, and as he gets older that will not change. 

    Terrell Thomas: Re-signs 

    Even though they ended up winning it all, the Giants could have used Thomas' services last season. They ranked near the bottom of the league in passing yards given up and saw a significant decrease in turnovers forced after they led the league in 2010. 

    Thomas is reportedly three weeks ahead of his rehab schedule and the two sides have begun contract negotiations. I do not see those going awry and Thomas will be a Giant. 

    Estimated Contract: Five years, $25 million 

    Aaron Ross: Leaves

    Ross did play well in the post season, but he is so inconsistent I do not see the Giants keeping him, especially if they re-sign Terrell Thomas. Ross will be banking on his postseason play to get him top dollar, and the Giants will gladly let him go.

    Deon Grant: Leaves

    Each one of these is getting tougher and tougher. Grant was a vital part of the Giants defense last season, but he is aging and the Giants have other priorities. If they can get him at a discount they will, but Grant would probably retire or play somewhere else for more money if a team wants him.

    Steve Weatherford: Update: ProFootballTalk.com is reporting via their Twitter handle that the Giants have placed the franchise tag on punter Steve Weatherford.

    Contract: One year, $2.5 million (average of top 5 at the position). 

    Rocky Bernard: Leaves

    After an up and down stint with the Giants, Bernard is going to be seeing his way out of New York. If Marvin Austin had not torn his pectoral muscle, Bernard might have been gone last year. He is a solid backup, but will probably want more money than he's worth. 

    Domenik Hixon: Re-signs (Signed new deal Friday, March 2)

    Contract: One year, $615,000 

    Dave Tollefson: Re-signs

    The Giants like Tollefson backing up all of their studs. He has good moves in his own right and is a reliable option to put on the field when the starters need a rest. He's had an opportunity to leave in the past, but nobody has signed him. I believe he's happy here. 

    Estimated Contract: Two years, $1.5 million

    Chase Blackburn: Re-signs

    For how much Blackburn did for the Giants, you have to assume they will bring him back. If not for that reason, then to have a reliable backup behind Jonathan Goff, who is coming off a torn ACL. Blackburn's 2011 story is an incredible one and it would be a shame if the Giants did not reward him. Someone else might if they don't. 

    Estimated Contract: Two years, $1.5 million

    Stacy Andrews: Leaves

    As I said before, Andrews was a nice backup and occasionally played blocking tight end, but the Giants are going to rebuild the offensive line through the draft or free agency, so there is no room for washed up older guys. 

    Will Blackmon: Leaves

    Hopefully the Giants can stay healthy in the secondary this season. Blackmon getting any time in the regular season as a corner would be a bad sign, but could possibly keep him around for his punt return skills? I doubt it. 

    David Carr: Re-signs 

    Carr is a reliable backup and I do not foresee the Giants going in a new direction. Unless practice squad main stay Ryan Perriloux shows improvement, Carr has little to no competition for the backup job. 

    Estimated Contract: Two years, $1.6 million

    Devin Thomas: Re-signs

    The Giants really like Thomas and his effort he gives on special teams, particularly as a kickoff return man, but he could see an expanded role in the offense if Manningham is let go. 

    Estimated Contract: One year, $1 million

    Bear Pascoe: Re-signs

    Pascoe is a great asset to have on a team. He is a good run blocker and has the versatility to be the backup fullback in case Henry Hynoski goes down, which he did at one point in 2011. Unless Pascoe is blown away, the Giants would match any offer given to him. 

    Estimated Contract: Three years, $2.7 million

    Michael Clayton: Leaves

    Michael Coe: Leaves

    Jimmy Kennedy: Leaves

    Justin Tryon: Leaves

    With all of the previous four players not only being released, but having said all I could say about them on the previous slide, I'll just lump them together. With so many players as free agents there is only so much room for everyone. These four did not have much of an impact on the 2011 roster, so I don't see them coming back unless they get signed for training camp and blow the coaching staff away. 

    Derrick Martin: Re-signs

    Martin has a chance to break through with Deon Grant likely retiring or playing somewhere else, he and Tyler Sash are the only two safeties behind starters Kenny Phillips and Antrel Rolle, so the opportunity is definitely there. 

    Estimated Contract: Two years, $1.4 million 

    Tony Ugoh: Re-signs

    Under the tutelage of offensive line coach Pat Flaherty, maybe the Giants can get something out of Ugoh that the Colts thought they couldn't get. Ugoh played some blocking tight end at the end of the season, so he could be a first option backup next season. 

    Estimated Contract: One year, $700,000

    Jake Ballard: Has re-signed with the team

    This is a no-brainer. Although Ballard tore his ACL and is expected to be placed on the physically unable to perform list, he had a good year for the Giants and should be rewarded for it. Fans killed Jerry Reese for letting Kevin Boss go and Ballard ended up having a just as good, if not a better year, in 2011.

    Contract details to come later

    Bruce Johnson: Has Re-signed with the team

    After having missed the previous two seasons due to injury, Bruce Johnson has a lot of making up to do. He also has to prove he can be the player he was back in 2009 as a rookie. The Giants need to make sure their secondary is stacked to avoid last year's problem. 

    Contract details to come later.

Available Cap Space After Re-Signings

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    Available Cap Space (projected)

    The Giants were $6.5 million under the projected new cap, and I spent $17.9 million re-signing players, meaning they would be $11.4 million over the 2012 cap. 

    Caveats

    The thing about the salary cap is I'm adding up the average salaries for each player I re-signed, when in reality the Giants could backload a bunch of the contracts. 

    Another thing is I have not addressed who the Giants could let go to get rid of some cap space. If you take Brandon Jacobs, David Diehl and Osi Umenyiora off the books, that's over $15 million in cap room right there, according to Spotrac.com's numbers for their 2012 cap hit. 

    Combine that with some players who could restructure their deals and you're under the cap already. Unfortunately, this leaves little room for the Giants to do much in the free-agency period, which is what we're looking at if the Giants plan on bringing a bulk of their players back. 

    Not to mention, these values are purely based on my opinion. It could end up costing the Giants a lot less. Unfortunately it could also cost more, but let's hope not. 

Biggest Needs After Re-Signing

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    Most of the Giants' re-signings I have projected did not fill any immediate needs, so moving forward the Giants would still need help at these positions whether through free agency or the NFL draft. 

    Offensive Line

    Letting go of Kareem McKenzie and in all likelihood David Diehl, the Giants will start getting younger along the offensive line. The group finished last in the running game in 2011 and that is unacceptable. 

    Something tells me the Giants will not sign a free agent offensive lineman in 2012. I believe Jerry Reese believes he has an offensive line group for next season. Will Beatty, Kevin Boothe/Mitch Petrus, David Baas, Chris Snee and James Brewer could very well be the starting group in 2012. 

    Tight End

    Yes I projected the Giants to sign two of their tight ends, but one of them will not be ready for the season opener and the other is primarily a blocking tight end. There are a few names I believe the Giants could get for cheap and tight end could very well be the only position the Giants go after in free agency. 

    Cornerback 

    In my projections I let several corners walk out the door, but the fact is the Giants are set at the corner position with the guys I kept. They have Corey Webster and Prince Amukamara and getting Terrell Thomas back will be a huge help. Add Bruce Johnson and all you're looking for now is insurance. 

    That can be found late in the draft and cost much less than the veterans I let go. 

Identifying Potential Free Agent Targets the Giants Could Sign

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    Offensive Line 

    There are several free agents the Giants could target at offensive line, but the reality of the situation is they will likely have little cap room to work with, so their money could be better spent elsewhere. 

    But for the sake of argument, Demetrius Bell (Bills), Evan Mathis (Eagles) and Ben Grubbs (Ravens) are names that could be on the Giants' radar. Mathis and Bell are probably going to re-sign with their respective teams, but I could see Grubbs slipping through the Ravens' fingers with Ray Rice on their mind. 

    Tight End 

    Obviously the thoroughbred of this race is Jermichael Finley, but who says he wants anyone throwing to him but Aaron Rodgers. I know I would want to stay on a 15-1 team. Another names to look out for and, if he signs somewhere, watch have a breakout season is Joel Dreessen. 

    I got to cover the Texans training camp in 2011 and I was very impressed with Dreessen's blocking and ability to go up and get the high passes. He would be doing a lot of that for Eli Manning. 

    Some other, cheaper names to look out for are Scott Chandler, Visanthe Shiancoe, Martellus Bennett and maybe even Jeremy Shockey (this is a joke, Giants fans need to get Shockey out of their heads).

    Cornerback

    This position will also more than likely get addressed in the draft, but some lesser names that could serve as solid backups are Jason Allen, Will Allen and Kelvin Hayden.  

Projecting Contract Values for Giants Free Agent Targets

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    For this slide, I'm only going to list those names from the last slide that the Giants would realistically have their eyes on. These are NOT players the Giants are going to sign in free agency, just what their values are going to be in the market. 

    Jermichael Finley: Five years, $40 million

    The highest paid tight end in the league is Vernon Davis, whose average salary comes out to $7,117,500. Finley is the latest freakish athlete tight end to put up big numbers, so he'll want to come out as the highest tight end in the league. 

    Unless of course he gives Green Bay a home town discount, which is not out of the question. 

    Joel Dreessen: Four years, $20 million

    Dreessen has not proven much, but being Owen Daniels backup he did not get much of a chance to shine. But when he did when Daniels got hurt, boy did he shine. His production in games he started will drive up his price and he'll have several suitors. 

    Scott Chandler: Four years, $8 million

    Chandler had a very Jake Ballard-like season for the Bills last season, catching 38 passes for 389 yards and six touchdowns. He's a big bodied guy who can block well, which will attract the Giants' scouts.  

    Martellus Bennett: Three years, $5 million

    Bennett has burned some bridges in Dallas with dropped passes and a poor attitude, but maybe a change of scenery could fix all that. He is a great athlete and could be a huge red zone threat. 

    Visanthe Shiancoe: Two years, $3 million

    This name should look familiar to Giants fans. Shiancoe spent four years with the Giants, all behind Jeremy Shockey. He had some productive years with the Vikings, and the Giants would love to have his veteran presence in the huddle. He is also a very good blocker, better than anyone the Giants have even at the ripe old age of 31. 

    Ben Grubbs: Six Years, $38 million 

    Grubbs is one of the most powerful run blocking interior offensive lineman in the NFL, and the Giants would be such a better team if they had him. However, his huge demands will be too much for the Giants and like I said Jerry Reese could be happy with a potentially new group up front. 

    Jason Allen: Two years, $6 million

    Allen played well as a backup for the Houston Texans, and if the Giants for some reason cannot agree on a deal with Terrell Thomas, Allen is someone the Giants should have on their radar.

Analyzing the Giants' Draft Strategy, Positions of Need

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    As you've no doubt noticed by now, the biggest needs for the New York Giants are tight end, guard and offensive tackle. 

    The common perception is that Jerry Reese only drafts the best player available when he is picking. This is true for the most part, but if you look at the 2007-2009 drafts, Reese drafted more on need than on potential.

    So he has used both strategies, which is why it is difficult to get a read on what the Giants will do. Last year, everyone said Reese needed to take an offensive lineman early, he didn't. In 2010, everyone said he needed to draft a linebacker early, he didn't.

    This year, everyone is saying draft either a tight end, linebacker or offensive lineman in the early rounds. What will he do?

    Whether he chooses to admit it or not, the Giants would not suffer if they drafted a play making tight end. Reese has admitted that practice squad hero Christian Hoptkins is a kid they like, but he's never seen action in a regular season game.

    That said, we have to trust Reese's judgment at this point, he's right more often than he's wrong.

    In terms of the later rounds, the Giants will try to add depth to positions like running back, corner and defensive tackle.

Draft Names to Keep an Eye on

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    This slide is particularly for the first couple of rounds and will address the major needs for the Giants, assuming nothing is done in free agency. 

    Tight End

    Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener are two names to keep an eye on for the No. 32 overall pick. Unless something drastic happens in the next couple months, Allen is going to be mocked in the first round for the Giants by me until the draft. 

    Of course the combine can change things, but I doubt his stock will move very much in either direction. 

    Fleener may be the most pro-ready of the tight ends, given that he played in a pro-style offense and can block very well in the run game. A lot of commentators on the Giants page say they like Fleener more than Allen, but it is almost a toss up. Allen has more upside, but Fleener is the sure thing. 

    Some names to look for in the second round are Orson Charles or David Paulson. Charles is another guy I like because he played in the SEC. Paulson might be a reach there but Oregon did not really utilize him as much as he would be in the NFL. 

    Offensive Line

    There are several names I like from an offensive line stand point in this draft. At No. 32, the Giants would have a realistic shot at OG Cordy Glenn from Georgia, Peter Konz (center, but could move to guard or Baas could slide over), OT/G Kelechi Osemele and OTs Mike Adams and Bobby Massie.

    Glenn would be a starter right away at left guard, as he is NFL ready although he had a couple bad games at Georgia. At times he looked very dominant. Peter Konz is a bulldozer in the run game and he could either start at center with David Baas moving over to guard or he could play left guard. 

    Osemele played tackle in college but would be better served as a guard in the NFL. He has a mean streak, good balance and quick feet. The Giants need some help in the run game, and his big body would be a huge asset. 

    The final two—Mike Adams and Bobby Massie—are only options if the Giants decide they do not like James Brewer to start at right tackle next season. With Kareem McKenzie possibly gone, Brewer and Kevin Boothe are the only options. Boothe is better served inside and as a backup. 

    Both Adams and Massie are strong run blockers and projected right tackles at the next level. 

    Linebackers 

    I'm keeping this short and sweet, because in all likelihood the Giants will come to an agreement with Jonathan Goff. But if they do not, watch for them to target Dont'a Hightower in the first round if he slides to No. 32. 

    Hightower anchored one of the best defenses in college football history on the Alabama Crimson Tide last season. He is a dominant force in the run game, but he played mostly in a 3-4 defense so there are some concerns if he can transition to the 4-3, where you have to take on blockers more often. 

    That said, those are very, very minor concerns. Hightower is a great player, and could be the pick even if the Giants sign Goff, if Reese goes that best available route.