Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports
At the start of free agency, there was no question that the Giants would be looking to upgrade their cornerback depth.
They really had no choice. Corey Webster is gone, his contract having been voided.
Terrell Thomas and Trumaine McBride are both unrestricted free agents. While both played well last year, neither is likely the long-term solution as a potential starter opposite of Prince Amukamara.
Thomas, who made it back from three ACL surgeries, including two consecutive ones, has made an attempt to hide his desire to become a starter again, per ESPN.
However, there are still questions about his health. If he had to have practice reps managed all of last year, would he need even more management if he were to take on an expanded role as a starter moving forward? And if so, how would that affect his ability to prepare?
McBride’s biggest vice has always been something out of his control: His diminutive stature. While the 5’9” McBride didn’t back down against taller receivers, it is a gamble to anoint him as the starting cornerback to play against a league filled with taller, more physical receivers capable of outmuscling him.
Jayron Hosley has had two injury-filled seasons that have stunted his development and Charles James is raw.
Sure, the Giants could look to the draft to address this position—if they don’t land a top-flight cornerback in free agency, I could see there being a good case for taking Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert if he’s there at No. 12 (yes, even ahead of tight end Eric Ebron).
Even if Gilbert isn’t there, it looks like it’s deep class at cornerback this year. However, the lower the pick, the less certainty the player is going to be ready to step into the starting lineup on Day 1.
So that brings us to the Giants' apparent desire to acquire a top-flight cornerback.
According to Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News, the Giants had interest in Green Bay cornerback Sam Shields, who ended up re-signing with the Packers what was reported by ESPN to be a four-year, $39 million deal.
That brings us to Alterraun Verner, an unrestricted free agent most recently with the Titans. Per Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Verner’s NFL rating was 55.8, the second-best mark (behind Seattle’s Richard Sherman) of NFL cornerbacks who took at least 75 percent of their team’s snaps last season.
The problem, of course, is when you can claim to be mentioned in the same sentence as Sherman, Miami’s Brent Grimes and Shields, your price tag is going to reflect that, as Vacchiano noted.
Vacchiano also reported Verner is likely to sign with a new team shortly after free agency officially beings Tuesday. If the Giants aren’t in his price range, then I can’t imagine they’ll be a team he plans to meet with let alone be in the final running.
While it would be great for the Giants to pick up a shutdown corner to complement Amukamara such as Verner, given the vast number of needs they have elsewhere, I’m not certain they’ll be able to afford a top cornerback unless they're planning to clear more salary cap space.
I believe they might have to wait until the second and/or third wave of free agency to address this position, and if no one is available, then I could see them looking at the draft, again with Gilbert potentially being a target if he's there at No. 12.