The New York Giants have had a very unpredictable offseason thus far. After splurging spending the second most money in free agency in 2014, they took a much more reserved approach this time around. While Giants fans won’t know how the signings pan out until the start of the season, here are some early grades.
Franchise Tagging Jason Pierre-Paul
This one was a tough move to grade. On one hand, it was an obvious move. Pass rushers are critical in today’s NFL with how much teams pass the ball, and Pierre-Paul is a premier pass rusher when at his peak. He also is an excellent run stuffer. On the other hand though, Pierre-Paul has struggled for the majority of the last three seasons. Battling injuries and inconsistency, Pierre-Paul only turned it on last season in the last four games. Handing him $15 million took away a lot of cap flexibility. This one won’t be able to be really graded until the season actually starts.
Signing RB Shane Vereen to a four-year, $16 million contract
This signing was an absolute home run. Vereen is not much of a “running” back, as he carried the ball just 96 times for 391 yards last season, but he is a receiving threat. He caught 52 balls for 447 yards and 3 touchdowns for New England last season, and that was in limited playing time coming out of the Patriots inconsistent backfield rotations. He completes the Giants three headed monster backfield, bringing back memories of their trio of Bradshaw, Jacobs, and Ware in their Super Bowl trip of 2008. With the injury proneness of Rashad Jennings, Vereen also brings needed depth and experience. His deal was also inexpensive. All around great signing.
Signing LB Jonathan Casillas to a three-year, $8 million contract
Casillas was a Super Bowl champion with the Patriots last year, and is expected to compete to earn a starting job this season for the Giants. Casillas could end up being the teams dime linebacker, something New York dearly missed last season. He is 6’1 and 227 pounds, and still has great athleticism. Jacquain Williams and Mark Herzlich were both highly ineffective at guarding tight ends, so Casillas was needed to fill that role. He also is an excellent special teamer, and could take Spencer Paysinger’s role on that unit, as he is not expected to return. The Casillias signing wasn’t a great one, but it wasn’t a bad one either.
Signing WR/KR/PR Dwayne Harris to a five-year, $17.5 million deal
I really tried to understand this one. But no matter how hard I tried, I simply couldn’t. Why give $17.5 million to a player to return kicks and punts, when he hasn’t ever even recorded a return touchdown? He’s an above average return man, but the Giants signed an elite kick/punt returner in Trindon Holliday last season for under $1 million. Harris isn’t Victor Cruz insurance either. He only had eight receptions last season, and just 33 over his four year career. This signing would make more sense if the dollar amount was slashed in half, but Dwayne Harris is just not a $17.5 million player. Bad signing.
Signing Tackle Marshall Newhouse to a two-year, $3 million contract
The Giants decided to let the underwhelming James Brewer walk in free agency, so they needed a tackle. Insert Marshall Newhouse. He was signed for cheap, and can play both tackle spots. He’s coming off a disastrous season, having a -12.2 PFF rating, and being benched by the Bengals in the middle of the season who thought a street free agent who hasn’t played in a year would play better (and they were correct). While Newhouse isn’t a great tackle by any stretch, the Giants did sign him cheap so it won’t hurt too much.
Signing LB J.T. Thomas to a three-year, $10 million deal
Thomas isn’t a household name, but he has the potential to be one. Thomas held down the linebacker position very well last season, starting eight games for the Jaguars after Paul Posluszny went down with injury. He recorded 84 tackles in those games, and showed extreme promise. He’s an athletic back who can tackle well and get after the quarterback. He’s also a great character guy, known for helping out the community and his fans whenever he can. His deal is cheap enough where if he’s a disappointment it won’t hurt all that much, so this was a good signing all around.
Re-Signing LB Mark Herzlich to a two-year, $2.6 million contract
Herzlich finally broke into the rotation last year as a player who had consistent playing time. He recorded 52 tackles, and was excellent against the run. His downside though was how horrid he was against the pass, with the opposing quarterback completing all 15 passes thrown his way, including two touchdowns. He’s a character guy as well who Coach Coughlin is a big fan of, for his dedication and hard work he puts in every practice and game. He may be competing for a roster spot, but is owed only $450k in guaranteed money if he’s cut. That reason alone makes this a better signing.
Re-Signing FB Henry Hynoski to a two-year, $2.1 million deal
This was a signing that had to be made, and the Giants got it done. Hynoski was ranked as the second best FB in the NFL last season, and his +5.3 run block grade made a noticeable difference. Hynoski also is an invaluable special teamer, finishing with a +3.5 rating on that front. Hynoski is still only 26-years-old and in his prime. This was an excellent signing by the Giants.
Re-Signing OL John Jerry to a two-year, $3.3 million deal
Jerry was supposed to be an experienced backup for the Giants last season, but instead had to start all 16 games due to the rash of injuries the Giants suffered last year. He was miserable in rushing situations, posting an awful -16.4 run block rating, and the Giants running backs averaged just 3 yards a carry when rushing on his side. So why re-sign him? Probably because the Giants are hoping they can stay healthy this season and not have that much of a need for him, and he’s already familiar with the teams blocking schemes.
Re-Signing TE Daniel Fells to a one-year, $950k contract
For this cheap, this deal was a no brainer. Fells was excellent in blocking, something starting tight end Larry Donnell struggled mightily with. He also was an excellent touchdown threat, reeling in four touchdowns in limited playing time. Fells is a solid backup tight end, and until Donnell becomes a respectable blocker, will be needed.
Re-Signing CB Chykie Brown to an undisclosed two-year deal
Brown was average last season, ranking as the 86th best CB in the NFL. For a fourth string cornerback, that is pretty solid. He will be behind Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Prince Amukamara, and Trumaine McBride next season, assuming none of those players suffer from injury. Brown was brought in last season for the sole purpose of replacing all of the injured players. He also was coached by Giants current defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo in Baltimore, when he was a DB coach. It is an under the radar signing, but a good one at that.
Signing DT Kenrick Ellis to a one-year, $1.5 million deal
The former New York Jet won’t have to relocate, as he is now a member of the New York Giants. Ellis has been overshadowed his whole career by other elite defensive tackles such as Sione Pouha and Damon Harrison, leading him to get minimal playing time throughout his four-year career with the Jets. Now with the Giants though, he will most likely be a starter alongside Jonathan Hankins. Ellis is an excellent run stuffer, something the Giants defense desperately needs after finishing dead last in the NFL giving up 4.9 yards per carry. His deal also is very cheap, making this a great signing by Jerry Reese and the Giants.
Signing DE George Selvie to a one-year, $1 million deal
The Giants filled a hole here by adding Selvie. While Pierre-Paul and Robert Ayers are expected to start at the two defensive ends, they needed extra depth and Selvie helps a lot. Him, Damontre Moore and Kerry Winn should form a dangerous trio of reserves, and his deal was very cheap. All around solid signing.
Overall FA grade- C