The New York Giants GM Jerry Reese will need to make some tough decisions this off season as they will have 17 UFA (Unrestricted Free Agent), 2 RFA (Restricted Free Agent) and 5 ERFA (Exclusive Free Agent) this off season. Reese must decide on who stays and who goes and still hopefully maintaining a playoff caliber team. Below I’ll give my assessment on each FA and whether or not they will be on the Giants roster in 2017.
DT: Jonathon Hankins: Hankins situation will be similar to former Giant DT Linval Joseph contract year with the Giants as a decision to not re-sign Joseph was purely on money and certainly not based on need. The Giants might have to let Hankins walk if his salary demands ends up being a lot more than what the Giants management believes he’s worth or what they are willing to pay. A great indication on what GM Jerry Reese might do with Hankins could be determined if he drafts an DT early in the draft as current DT Jay Bromley may not be envisioned as a suitable replacement for Hankins.
DE: Jason Pierre-Paul: JPP was having a solid season before his season ending injury and was most likely a strong consideration to return to the Giants. However; all that could change the way Reese’s decision as JPP has had major back & groin surgery, not to mention the 4th of July mishap that blew off part of his right hand over the last 4 seasons. Also, the emergence of rookie DE Romeo Okwara who played well in JPP’s absence could also affect what Reese might do. Still only 28 years old, some team could emerge and dangle a contract (too high for the Giants to consider) that JPP can’t refuse and if that happens; the Giants will move on and close the chapter on JPP career as a New York Giant. Once again a strong indication could be what the Giants do in the early rounds in the draft.
OG: John Jerry: Despite playing respectfully for the Giants over the last 3 seasons. The Giants need to replace Jerry who rated below average in run block/pass protection among OG in the NFL. Can’t see the Giants bringing him back, unless it’s to add depth and at a reasonable price.
OT: Marshall Newhouse: Newhouse would be better suited as a backup OL; which would make him more valuable. I only see the Giants bringing him back in that role and at a one year deal that’s well within his market value.
QB: Ryan Nassib: Despite Manning closer to retirement than in his prime, the likelihood of Nassib returning to the Giants is not likely. Manning’s iron man streak is still intact, so Nassib would benefit more with a change of scenery where he would have a chance for playing time.
OLB: Mark Herzlich: Could see him returning with a similar 1 or 2 year deal as Herzlich has been a steady performer on special teams.
ILB: Keenan Robinson: Robinson played fairly well for the Giants as he played in all 16 games and emerged as a major contributor to the Giants much improved defense. However; before joining the Giants, Robinson had 3 injury plagued season’s with the Redskins; which could result in the Giants only bringing him back on a 1 or 2 year deal.
TE: Larry Donnell: I think we’ve seen the last of Donnell in a Giants uniform. Will Tye has emerged as the starter at TE for now and the potential of Rookie Jerell Adams and Matt LaCosse (IR in 2016) it would seem that there is no room for Donnell.
DE: Kerry Winn: Winn didn’t have as a productive season in 2016 as he did in 2015, however; unless his demands are unrealistic, I can see the Giants bringing him back at a very reasonable price especially if JPP does not return. Winn will be only 25 years old in 2017 and still has room to develop into a serviceable DE for the Giants.
ILB: Kelvin Sheppard: If the Giants bring back Robinson, Sheppard becomes expandable as the Giants seem very high on B.J Goodson.
RB: Bobby Rainey: Rainey showed a little value as a backup for the Giants, but will that be enough for the Giants to re-sign him. This will depend on if the Giants decide to cut Shane Vereen who despite being an impact player when he is healthy. Vereen suffered two major surgeries on the same triicep and is scheduled to make $4.9M in 2017.
TE: Will Tye: This is a no brainer in my book as Tye has shown me enough to get re-signed by the Giants as he has improved each season with the Giants.
RB: Orleans Darkwa: Darkwa had a down year in 2016 as compared to his 2015 season. However; he has shown enough ability with his speed and size to warrant a strong consideration to be re-signed. The only way the Giants pass on him is if another team offers an unrealistic contract that the Giants won’t/can’t match.
DB-Leon Hall: Hall filled in nicely at S as he played most of his career at CB. However; with S Darius Thompson and Nat Berhe returning in 2017; Hall career as a Giant ended with the wild card game loss to the Packers.
CB-Trevin Wade: Wade was a serviceable CB depth player and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Giants bring him back on a 1 year deal.
OT-Will Beatty: The Giants brought Beatty back with the hopes of him possibly regaining some of his glory days and take over the RT position from Newhouse. Unfortunately; that never happened and the likelihood of the Giants bringing Beatty back in 2017 is not good.
CB-Coty Sensabaugh: Hard to believe that the Rams actually thought highly enough for Sensabaugh to give him a 3 year contract worth $15M. In my opinion, it will either be Sensabaugh or Wade, but not both returning in 2017. My vote would be Wade despite his poor performance against Green Bay.
QB-Josh Johnson: Giants could decide to bring Johnson back as he does have NFL experience and is very affordable.
LS-Zak DeOssie: Has been with the Giants his entire career and is a very reliable long snapper/snapper on punts & extra points. Very durable (only missing 4 games in 2015) and should return with the Giants in his familiar role.
K-Robbie Gould: Giants might have found a diamond in the rough with Gould who was signed by the Giants after the team finally cut did the right thing and cut Josh Brown. Gould responded by making all his FGS (10). Very dependable and should return in 2017 on a 1 year deal.
TE-Matt LaCosse: Giants are high on LaCosse; which is why they have held on to him. The chances of LaCosse returning are very likely as it would only involve a non-guaranteed, minimum salary tender.
DT-Robert Thomas: When Thomas became available through the waiver wire, Reese scooped him up immediately. I expect the Giants to bring him back as a solid backup DT.
FB-Nikita Whitlock: This season, the Giants abandoned the FB position and the running game suffered. The OL had a lot to do with that, however; having a bulldozing FB like Whitlock leading the way for your RB wouldn’t hurt. The Giants will more than likely bring Whitlock back as he also did a decent job at the DT position as well.
WR-Ben Edwards: Not sure how much the Giants value Edwards as they already have 3 young WR who I believe are rated higher than him in Lewis, King and Powes. However; it won’t cost much to bring him back and Edwards does have some ability to warrant a return.
Final Thoughts: As I mentioned in my opening paragraph; GM Jerry Reese will have some tough decisions to make. Obviously; the two biggest FA are Hankins and JPP and if Reese decides to re-sign them; that would mean that the Giants have committed roughly $250M just for the DL alone. Personally; I can’t that happening as the Giants need to address other positions as well to remain a playoff team for not only in 2017, but beyond. It is very likely that Reese will pass on both, especially if it becomes a bidding war for either player. However; it’s more likely that Reese will pass on one and sign the other and based on the value that both provide and skill set as well; my money could be on JPP returning as premiere DE pass rushers are harder to find than run stuffing DT. With that being said; re-signing JPP will hinge on how comfortable the Giants feel regarding his overall health and if it’s within their budget.