Ranking New York Giants' Biggest Offseason Needs
There's still a lot of football left in the 2017 season for the New York Giants, who have a long road ahead of them to fix some of the personnel issues that have developed over the early part of the season or which will be at a crossroads after the season thanks to free agency.
This slideshow breaks down the early emerging roster needs based on what has transpired either due to performance or injury.
Down the road, we'll look at some potential solutions from either free agency or the draft, but for now, we'll outline the biggest issues and why they are going to be among the top areas to fix this coming offseason.
6. Wide Receiver
Veteran receiver Brandon Marshall signed a two-year deal with the Giants last offseason to presumably become the team's No. 2 receiver and a complement to Odell Beckham Jr.
Unfortunately for the 33-year-old and the Giants, the union has not been a match made in heaven.
Season-ending injury aside, Marshall never really made the impact in the Giants offense the coaches were likely hoping for. In fact, he seemed to struggle at times during both the preseason and into the regular season to get on the same page with quarterback Eli Manning.
With Marshall now having to come back from season-ending ankle surgery and scheduled to carry a $6.5 million cap hit next year, the chances he's back with the Giants are not promising, especially since they can save $5.5 million if they terminate the deal.
Look for the Giants to go in another direction next year in finding a No. 2 receiver to complement Beckham.
5. Third Defensive End
Although the Giants tried to find a third defensive end who could provide relief to starters Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon, their efforts fell short.
As a result, the burden has once again fallen on Pierre-Paul and Vernon to take as many of the defensive snaps as they can. Through six games, the former has played in 91.5 percent of the Giants defensive snaps.
Vernon, who has missed two games due to a sprained ankle, had participated in over 90 percent of the defensive snaps as well up until his injury.
With Vernon sidelined, the Giants have mainly had to use a committee of Romeo Okwara, Kerry Wynn, Avery Moss and Cap Capri to replace him.
Meanwhile, the Giants' hopes of finding a consistent third defensive end before the season went nowhere.
Owa Odighizuwa, the team's third-round draft pick in 2015, turned out to be a major bust. Devin Taylor, the veteran free agent who looked like he could be the steal of free agency, didn't make it out of camp.
Okwara, who last year stepped in admirably for Pierre-Paul when he was injured, never really got untracked and is now done for the year with a season-ending knee injury.
While it's possible that someone on the roster might step up, don't be surprised if the Giants add from the outside to shore up that depth and create competition next year.
4. Starting Weak-Side Linebacker
If you've been waiting forever for the New York front office to address the lienbacker spot, you will get your wish in the offseason.
That's because, other than B.J. Goodson and newcomer Nigel Harris, none of the Giants linebackers are under contract beyond this year.
Depending on how things shake out, it's a good bet that the Giants will have a new starting weak-side linebacker on board next year.
Both Jonathan Casillas, who is injured, and Keenan Robinson, who had injury issues earlier in the year, are unlikely to be back next year.
The Giants will probably want to add a younger buck with the coverage skills to chase down tight ends, a position that has burned the defense this year for touchdowns on a weekly basis.
3. Pass-Rushing Outside Linebacker
Sticking with the topic of linebackers, Devon Kennard—the current starting strong-side linebacker—is also set to hit free agency after this season.
It will be interesting to see if the Giants bring him back. New York was rumored to be interested in drafting pass-rushing linebacker Leonard Floyd in the 2016 draft only to lose out to the Chicago Bears, who traded ahead of the Giants to get him.
Will the Giants try again to land a pass-rushing outside linebacker?
Considering Kennard has yet to come close to replicating the 4.5 sacks he recorded as a rookie in 2014—he's had just 2.0 sacks since then—and a team can never have too many pass-rushers, it would not be an upset if they do go in another direction at that spot to help a pass rush that has gotten off to a sluggish start for two years in a row.
2. Slot Cornerback
Although Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has one year remaining on his contract after the 2017 season, it would be a stunning development if the Giants keep him and his $8.5 million cap figure in 2018.
Putting aside Rodgers-Cromartie's recent issues that earned him a one-game suspension, this is a player who will be 32 on his next birthday.
The Giants will likely want to get younger at that spot while also taking advantage of the $6.5 million cap savings they will collect if they do terminate Rodgers-Cromartie's contract early.
Per Over The Cap, the Giants are projected to have at least $30,798,050 of cap space in 2018.
They will likely want to clear more space if they wish to re-sign offensive lineman Justin Pugh and receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to new deals while also adding free agents to other positions where they are projected to lack depth.
It's not that Rodgers-Cromartie can't be valuable in the final year of his contract, but unless he agrees to a pay cut, it's hard to see him back with the team in 2018.
1. Offensive Tackle
Giants fans are hoping 2018 will be the year the team finally gets itself offensive linemen who aren't projects and who can step in right away and contribute.
Currently, Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg are both set to hit free agency. The Giants could franchise one (likely Pugh) while working to re-sign Richburg, or they could let Richburg walk and move Brett Jones into the starting role.
The Giants also must decide regarding whether to pick up Ereck Flowers' option year.
Flowers has been OK some weeks and poor in others at left tackle, so if the Giants decide to keep him—and it will cost them a pretty penny if they do—they might want to consider moving him to the right side which would allow Pugh to move back to left guard, his natural spot.
If the Giants stick with D.J. Fluker as their starting right guard and keep John Jerry as depth, that means their only need will be at left tackle, which is going to cost them an arm and a leg if they go the veteran route.
Assuming the Giants do not view rookie Chad Wheeler as an option to replace Flowers, they might not have a choice but to spend on a premium left tackle.
If they feel Wheeler is an option, they should still invest in an offensive tackle anyway; Bobby Hart hasn't panned out as hoped, and the depth at the position is so weak that whenever there is an injury, it necessitates moving multiple players around to fill it.
Patricia Traina covers the New York Giants for Inside Football, the Journal Inquirer and Sports Xchange. All quotes and information were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.