New York Giants: The Complete Guide to Free Agency for Big Blue
By this time next Tuesday, March 12, the free-agency period will begin in the NFL.
The first couple of days are always fast and furious around the league and can be a very exciting time for NFL fans.
For the New York Giants, they have a lot of decisions to make by the time March 12 rolls around. They have to decide what players need to get re-signed or allow to walk away. And they have to decide which potential free agents to target and bring in.
So now, I present to you the complete guide to free agency for the New York Giants.
Salary Cap Situation
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The Giants had to make some drastic cuts in order to create some salary relief. So in a span of 24 hours, the Giants cut linebacker Michael Boley, defensive tackle Chris Canty and running back Ahmad Bradshaw.
All three of the cuts ended up making sense because the personnel in question were all injury-prone players whom the Giants could afford to lose.
The Giants still have some work to do in order to get under the cap and retain the flexibility necessary to sign free agents and lock up their draft picks.
Here's a full list of the Giants free agent list, both restricted and unrestricted. Via NFL.com:
Unrestricted free agents:
Ramses Barden, WR
Travis Beckum, TE
Martellus Bennett, TE
Rocky Bernard, DT
Chase Blackburn, MLB
Kevin Boothe, LG
David Carr, QB
Domenik Hixon, WR
Bruce Johnson, CB
Sean Locklear, RT
Kregg Lumpkin, RB
Kenny Phillips, SS
Justin Tryon, CB
Lawrence Tynes, K
Osi Umenyiora, DE
Brian Witherspoon, CB
Restricted Free Agents:
Andre Brown, RB
Stevie Brown, SS
Victor Cruz, WR
Ryan Torain, RB
Franchise Tag Situation
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There were a couple of players that the Giants could have used their franchise tag on in 2013.
Will Beatty was one of them, but the Giants ended up locking him up long term.
There was also Kenny Phillips, Martellus Bennett and Kevin Boothe—all of whom could have been candidates for getting the franchise tag.
When the deadline passed on March 4, at 4 p.m. Eastern, the Giants decided not to use the tag on any of their players.
Last season, the Giants used it on punter Steve Weatherford, who they ended up signing long term anyway.
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Thus far, the Giants have only re-signed three of their own players from 2012 (contract numbers via spotrac.com):
Shaun Rogers, DT: one year, $960,000
Bear Pascoe, TE: one year, $715,000
Will Beatty, LT: five years, $38.75 million
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What positions do the Giants need to focus on when they enter free agency?
Offensive Line: in particular left guard and right tackle.
Linebacker: all three positions could use an upgrade.
Cornerback: the secondary for the Giants in 2012 was terrible, especially Corey Webster.
Tight End: with Martellus Bennett's possible departure, a starting tight end is needed.
Kicker: David Buehler was brought in, but who knows if he's the answer at the spot.
Backup Quarterback: David Carr is likely gone, so the team will need someone to back up Eli Manning.
Potential FA Target: Charles Woodson
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The long-time veteran was released last month, as Green Bay shed the long-time corner/safety due to salary cap reasons and the need to get younger.
Woodson was brought up because of the potential departure of New York safety Kenny Phillips, but even at his age, Woodson could still command a decent salary on a one-year deal.
The former Raider and Packer missed a lot of 2012 with a broken collarbone, but that injury shouldn't make suitors shy away from him in 2013.
Potential FA Target: Dwight Freeney
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Back on Feb. 20, a lot of people were shocked to hear Dwight Freeney's preference for which team he wanted to play for in 2013.
Freeney said he thought playing for the New York Giants would be an absolute dream, as he grew up in Connecticut as a Giants fan and idolized Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor.
The Indianapolis Colts decided to part ways with their longtime defensive end, who played at linebacker in 2012 in Chuck Pagano's 3-4 system. Freeney would prefer to return to defensive end and play in a 4-3 base system.
If Freeney really wants to come to the Giants, he would have to do so at a discounted price.
Potential FA Target: Cullen Jenkins
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Former Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins visited the team on March 1, but he left New Jersey without an agreement and is visiting other potential suitors.
Jenkins would make a ton of sense for a defensive line that could use a boost after a subpar 2012.
And with the release of Chris Canty last month, Jenkins would give the Giants another pass-rusher right in the middle of their line.
Potential FA Target: Daryl Smith
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Smith missed quite a bit of time in 2012 due to a groin injury, but he is still one of the top middle linebackers available on the market for 2013.
The Jaguars are not expected to re-sign any of their own players, so the all-time leading tackler in franchise history will be looking for a new home next season.
Smith would be an immediate upgrade to a Giants linebacking unit that lacked playmakers in 2012 and has a lot of holes and question marks in 2013.
Michael Boley was cut, Chase Blackburn and Keith Rivers are free agents and Mathias Kiwanuka might move back to defensive end, so I would not be surprised if Smith lands with the Giants.