Each year before the free agency period begins in the NFL, teams are compelled to designate either a "franchise" or "transition" tag on a free agent they wish to keep for one more season.
This process is usually a simple one because by tagging a player, you agree to pay him a salary competitive to the top five or 10 players in the NFL at his position.
If you don't think he's worth that, you take other measures. For an unrestricted free agent (UFA) you simply let him test the waters. For a restricted free agent (RFA), you slot him with the appropriate tender offer.
The Giants are looking at possibly doing the latter with all of their free agents.
On the UFA front, they can't possibly be considering placing a tag on any of these players: Danny Clark, Fred Robbins, Jeff Feagles or David Carr.
Clark would cost $8.3 million to transition and $9.8 million to franchise. Carr would cost either $14 or $16 million; Robbins would cost around $6 or $7 million and Feagles at least $2.6 million. No way any of these guys get tagged.
From the list of RFAs, only Barry Cofield is a starter. The Giants must decide whether they think Cofield is worth a tag. By franchising him, they will agree to pay Cofield $7 million for 2010, which will be in the top five salaries of NFL defensive lineman.
He's not worth that, nor is he worth the $6.3 million transition tag. The Giants will probably tender Cofield out at the going rate of players with four accrued seasons:
Right of First Refusal — $1,176,000
Right of First Refusal + Pick in player’s original draft round — $1,176,000*
Right of First Refusal + Second-Round Draft Pick — $1,759,000*
Right of First Refusal + First-Round Draft Pick — $2,521,000*
Right of First Refusal + First- AND Third-Round Draft Picks — $3,168,000*
*or 110 percent of player’s 2009 Paragraph Five Salary, whichever is greater
It is my guess that they will not tender him out at the highest level, but probably in the middle somewhere where they can get decent compensation for him if he is snatched away by another team.
The Giants did a great job by not leaving any participles dangling for the uncapped season. All of their UFAs could walk and not be missed (Feagles will be missed, but he may retire anyway).
Their RFAs (Cofield, Sinorice Moss, Chase Blackburn, CC Brown, Kevin Boothe, Kevin Dockery, Derek Hagen, Dave Tollefson, Domenik Hixon, Darcy Johnson, Guy Whimper and Gerris Wilkinson) could likely be tendered or re-signed at a lower salary should teams show no interest. Most of these players are considered expendable, anyway.
The Giants may have three Exclusive rights free agents as well: Scott Chandler, DJ Ware and DJ Johnson. "ERFAs" are players that have no more than two accrued seasons in the NFL and may only sign with his prior team granted that the team extends a minimum qualifying offer to the player.
This offseason will present great challenges for the Giants, but one challenge will not be what many other teams will be experiencing: struggling to retain their own players.
Jerry Reese has all of the main pieces locked up. Now what he needs to do is get some more main pieces. The money is there...