There is still a lot which has to be worked out regarding the collective bargaining agreement, but as of right now, there is no salary cap for the 2010 season, and players need six years in the league to qualify for unrestricted free agency. With that being said, the following list is comprised only of players who have at least six years experience and who might be good fits for the New York Giants.
Karlos Dansby, MLB, Cardinals
Dansby is far and away the most intriguing of the free agent prospects. He is the heart of Arizona's defense and one of their best playmakers. This past Sunday against Green Bay, he forced three turnovers. The Giants could really use his veteran leadership and skill set at a position that they need serious help with.
The key here will be if Arizona offers him a long-term deal. They used the franchise tag on him last off-season, making his base salary for this season upwards of $10 million. Unless Arizona—one of the cheaper franchises in the league—chooses the same course of action, then he may choose to test the open market. Should he do that, the Giants should make him their primary target.
Darren Sharper, FS, Saints
Sharper, at the ripe age of 34, snagged nine interceptions and was only a few yards short of the NFL record for return yardage in a single season. While Sharper may be old, he would be the perfect candidate to bring some veteran leadership to an otherwise immature secondary. He would be the perfect candidate to play the role of Sam Madison for the Giants.
New Orleans may try to keep Sharper, but at his age, a long term deal may be out of the question, especially with Roman Harper (much younger) also set to be a free agent.
If he hits the open market, he should be right behind Dansby in terms of priorities. The Giants can not assume that Kenny Phillips will be healthy next season, which means that the Giants need two safeties. Getting one via free agency and one via the draft is the route to go in my opinion.
Chester Taylor, HB, Vikings
Brandon Jacobs just had knee surgery for cartilage damage, which he played with all season long. Ahmad Bradshaw played with two severely broken ankles and at least one broken foot—Bradshaw believed that by season's end he had broken both. This is not good news for the Giants. Whether Jacobs' decline in 2009 was a result of bad play-calling, injury, or just going soft, the Giants need some type of insurance at the running back position. Taylor had a stellar 1,200-yard season before Adrian Peterson was drafted. Since then, Taylor has been a 3rd down back and a stellar one at that. Despite his age, he may be worth looking into this off-season.
(Though I am a Brandon Jacobs fan, his days as a starting back may be numbered.)
Casey Hampton, NT, Steelers
I think Jonathan Stewart just scored again. Oh, right. Hampton may be 32 years old, but he is an anchor in the middle of the field for a top three rush defense in Pittsburgh. The Giants got gashed this past season on the ground by good running backs, and it would be a shame to see that happen again next year.
Hampton brings a number of things to the table: experience, attitude, and skill. He comes from a Steelers defense which has had as much attitude as any over the years. He can also push the pocket as well as anyone in the league.
There is little doubt that the Steelers will let him walk. As a 3-4 nose tackle, he would be great at the defensive tackle spot in a 4-3 with three other guys around him.
There are plenty of other names which the Giants could look into should they get cut, which would have no penalty in an uncapped year, or should the players union and league agree on a salary cap.
Either way, these players are names which should be available to the Giants this off- season—spare maybe Dansby depending on how badly Arizona wants to retain him.
The middle of Big Blue's defense was weak this past season, and the presence of Hampton, Dansby, and Sharper would bring veteran leadership in the middle of all three units while the Giants continue to add youth around them. There is no doubt that the Giants will look to add players at the safety, linebacker, and defensive tackle position.
These names are the best and most realistic options out there right now for Big Blue.
Considering the changes that John Mara promised for next season, I would not be surprised to see the Giants spend if they believe it will improve their team.
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