Vonta Leach is one of several free agents on the Giants' radar.
With the 2013 season nearly two months away, the New York Giants are still exploring veteran free-agent options. There are a handful of players without contracts who can still contribute at a high level.
General manager Jerry Reese has successfully maneuvered a tight salary-cap crunch this offseason.
According to spotrac.com, the Giants are approximately $3.7 million under the cap, opening up the possibility of bringing in at least one free agent to fill the roster. However, nearly half of that cap number will be used to sign rookie offensive lineman Justin Pugh.
Veterans lingering on the open market are typically in search of a team who can provide them with one thing and one thing only: a ring. The majority of these five free agents have made plenty of money in their careers. This leaves them craving something much more elusive.
New York has a few glaring deficiencies at key positions which would benefit from a veteran presence, most notably linebacker.
An acquisition of any of these five players will provide a boost to the Giants' prospects for the 2013 campaign. Here's a look at some key free-agent veterans who should be on New York's radar this summer.
Barnett will add versatility to New York's defense.
Nick Barnett presents the optimal fit for New York this summer. Not only would Barnett shore up the Giants' greatest need, he does so in a remarkably productive manner.
Following the 2010 season, the Green Bay Packers released this veteran linebacker because of injury concerns.
In the two seasons since Barnett left Green Bay for Buffalo, he has recorded a total of 242 tackles while suiting up in all 32 games.
Although he may be past his prime, the former Oregon State Beaver is a versatile linebacker who can play on the weak side or in the middle. For a team like the Giants with questions at all three linebacker positions, the depth and experience Barnett brings is something worth coveting.
New York has missed out on the likes of Desmond Bishop and Karlos Dansby in recent weeks. Allowing yet another solid veteran linebacker to slip through the cracks could be a dangerous proposition.
Henry Hynoski's health is a factor in the Leach sweepstakes.
If you're looking for reasons to sign veteran fullback Vonta Leach, just give Ray Rice a call. Leach spent each of the past two seasons clearing out running lanes for Rice en route to a Super Bowl title last season.
The opportunity to sign perhaps the best run-blocking fullback in the NFL is not something the Giants should take for granted.
New York will be hurt in the blocking department by the loss of Ahmad Bradshaw and Martellus Bennett this offseason. Each of these players had a tremendous understanding of protection schemes. Their replacements, Brandon Myers and David Wilson, are a long way from matching their blocking ability.
These departures are felt even more when you consider the knee injury to fullback Henry Hynoski.
Hynoski is a very solid fullback who could potentially return to the field before the start of the season. If this is the case, New York will look to spend its money elsewhere.
It appears Leach is destined to join the Miami Dolphins, but the Giants are certainly doing their due diligence by making a run at him.
A player with Howard's skill would provide a boost to the Giants' defense.
Thomas Howard is a low-risk, high-reward veteran who could help the Giants linebacking corps tremendously. This veteran's speed and play recognition will instantly improve New York's 31st-ranked defense.
The only concern regarding Howard's prospects as a Giant is his ability to rebound from major knee surgery following an injury early in 2012.
Cincinnati's leading tackler from 2011 was only able to play in one game last season. Even with the long layoff, Howard has shown the ability to be an impact linebacker throughout his career. The Giants currently field very few players on the second level who can say the same for themselves.
New York has not valued the linebacker position in quite some time.
For the most part, each player is one dimensional in that they can only defend either the pass or the run. For instance, Mark Herzlich is serviceable against the run, but a complete liability in coverage.
Howard is a rare commodity because he has the skill necessary to be a three-down linebacker. With loads of upside and very little risk, the Giants should take a flyer on Thomas Howard.
Sheldon Brown showed he has plenty left in the tank in 2012.
Bear with me on this one. Brown, 34, is far and away the best free-agent cornerback remaining on the market. The fact that he's been tucked away in Cleveland for the past three years should not be an indictment of his playing ability. Nor should his age, which has not hampered him at all as he continues to perform at a high level.
Ultimately, the decision to pull the trigger on a move like this will depend on New York's coaching staff.
Corey Webster's performance in training camp will be the determinant in how the Giants approach remaining free agents. If Webster is unable to return to form, Brown presents an easy fix for the 2013 season.
The Giants lack physicality in the secondary, which Brown would immediately provide them.
This longtime rival of the Giants is an excellent athlete with tremendous strength at the line of scrimmage. New York's secondary will predominantly rely on players with a history of injuries or a penchant for taking paid vacations in Florida. Brown on the other hand has missed just one game in his entire 11-year career.
It's a rarity for cornerbacks to continue playing at a high level well into their 30s, but Brown continues to prove his worth in this league. It would be prudent for the Giants to give him a look this summer.
Tryon has been a solid fixture on special teams for Tom Quinn.
Justin Tryon's special team's acumen is something the Giants have come to rely on in recent years. Since his arrival back in 2011, Tom Quinn's coverage units have noticeably improved.
New York's special teams are no longer a weakness for Tom Coughlin.
It wasn't too long ago the Giants clamored on an annual basis for a talented kick returner. David Wilson finally fulfilled this need. And who could forget the Feagles-to-Weatherford grace period which saw Matt Dodge became a pariah with each shank off his boot.
Tryon is a good fit to return to New York and use his athleticism in coverage. This would round on all aspects of New York's special teams.
Based on his website's bio, you can justifiably make the assumption that he is holding out for Darrelle Revis money. Once JT30 wakes up from that dream, New York should retain his services as a special teams contributor.