The free agent signing period hit like a tidal wave, with big name players switching teams almost immediately at the opening of the league office. With rumors flying around like crazy, it is a wonder the Twitter universe did not explode with all the buzz. Here are the news, notes, opinions, and questions I reported on and fielded from New York Giants fans during this free agency frenzy.
Antrel Rolle departs for Chicago… We think
This one gave me headaches. After working all the sources I had on the news I finally got a confirmed report that Giants free agent safety, Antrel Rolle, is in Chicago visiting. The Bears have a deal in place for Rolle to sign that is very similar to what the Giants were discussing giving to the safety prior to the opening of the free agent signing period. Rolle’s agent has taken the Bears’ offer to the Giants and New York is currently mulling over wether or not they will match the offer and bring their captain back for what will most likely be his last NFL contract before retirement.
While Rolle had an outstanding 2013 worthy of his Pro Bowl selection, his play declined a bit during his 2014 campaign due to what the Giants are worried may be advancing age. You cannot put a price tag on Rolle’s heart and leadership, but the Giants will try and do just that as they discuss their intentions while Rolle remains in Chicago, ready to put pen to paper with the Bears if the Giants decide not to match.
DeMarco Murray is a long shot
DeMarco Murray is one of the top three best running backs in the NFL, no question about it. Thankfully for Giants fans it does not look like Murray will be playing in the NFC East next season. A year removed from rushing for 1,845 yards and 13 touchdowns, Murray fund himself not even receiving a phone call from the Dallas Cowboys. Hopeful Giants fans popped up on Twitter asking if Murray could potentially bolt from his disrespecting former employers to the Big Apple.
However, with the recent signings of Shane Vereen by the Giants and Ryan Matthews by the Philadelphia Eagles, the two teams who were interested in his services in the NFC East now seem out of contention for the superstar running back who will certainly be out of the division next season.
Is Justin Pugh still a tackle?
Justin Pugh is a tremendous, fleet footed pass blocker that continues to struggle sealing off the edge when run blocking. The simple solution for a player like that would be to slide him over to guard, getting the full benefit of his pass blocking skill while aiding him in the run game with double teams and utilizing his quickness to get to the second level to block linebackers.
Unfortunately, the Giants do not have anyone who could play better than Pugh at the starting right tackle position. Newly signed OT Marshall Newhouse will not be the answer and the difference makers in free agency (Orlando Franklin, Mike Iupati, and Bryan Bulaga) have all already signed elsewhere.
All signs point to the Giants to draft Iowa’s OT Brandon Schreff with their #9 overall selection in the upcoming draft. An interesting fallback option could be Jake Long, who was recently released by the St. Louis Rams. Long is coming off back to back ACL tears, a serious concern for any player but if he comes cheap he could be a low risk high reward type of signing for the Giants.
What about Hynoski?
The New York Giants and fullback Henry Hynoski have agreed to a two-year deal worth $2 million. The deal provides base salaries of $775K in 2015 and $1.025 million in 2016 with only $250K of his 2015 base salary being guaranteed.
This is an excellent re-signing by New York both talent and money wise. It seemed Giants management worked their leverage masterfully and signed a good player to a seemingly below market deal.
Giants fans react to New York’s free agency haul
As expected, the Giants free agency haul yielded mixed reviews from a few Giants fans. The thing to keep in mind here when reviewing these signings is that, although $55 million was handed out in contracts, only $19 million of that was guaranteed money.
While none of the signed players are expected to start for the Giants next year (LB Jonathan Casillas can start in a pinch) the signings all filled areas of need for the team. OL Marshall Newhouse accumulated a horrendous Pro Football Focus grade of -9.7 last season but was signed to a very cap friendly deal, similar to that of C J.D. Walton signed last offseason that allowed the Giants to cut him last week with little dead money repercussions.
Shane Vereen’s pass catching skills will add a valuable new dimension to New York’s offense next season. WR and KR/PR, Dwayne Harris, is a home run threat on special teams, meaning the Giants will no longer have to risk star receiver Odell Beckham Jr.’s health by deploying him on punt and kick returns. Meanwhile, after missing on top linebacker Jason Graham when they only offered him a one year deal, the Giants picked up J.T. Thomas and Jonathan Casillas to provide rotational depth to a unit that cannot get enough of it.
Despite not signing any big name stars on opening day, New York still has plenty of cap space to make moves and put together a well rounded team with the depth to contend for the postseason.