It’s already been a busy offseason for the Giants, what with the signing of Brandon Marshall and the use of the franchise tag on Jason Pierre-Paul. Not to mention the departures of Victor Cruz and Rashad Jennings.
And free agency hasn’t even begun yet!
That happens at 4 p.m. on Thursday, and unlike the past month of maneuverings as well as last year’s $200-million defensive shopping spree, don’t expect the Giants to be super active when the new league year begins.
“We’re obviously not going to be as aggressive as we were,” team president and co-owner John Mara said last week. “We just don’t have the salary-cap room, and you can’t do that every year.”
Pierre-Paul’s tag of nearly $17 million eats up more than half of the team’s expected cap space this offseason. It’s still unclear what the exact cap implications of Marshall’s two-year, $12 million deal will be, but it will likely leave the Giants with less than $10 million in space at the start of free agency.
They’re reportedly working to clear some room by negotiating a pay slash with or releasing wide receiver Dwayne Harris, and they can create more space with a long-term deal for Pierre-Paul. Until then, though, they’ll be working on a budget while still needing to address some glaring holes on the team.
“There’s still enough room for us to do some things if we want,” Mara said.
Two areas that remain problems are tight end and offensive line. The Giants are keeping tabs on the top of the tight end market and watching to see what kind of deals Martellus Bennett, a free agent who just won a Super Bowl with the Patriots, will receive. Bennett, who played one season with the Giants, said in January that he’d be open to a return to the team. He may be too costly for that, though.
Another option, and a cheaper one, could be New Jersey native Anthony Fasano, a 32-year-old known to be a strong blocker (he caught just eight passes for the Titans last year but was integral in their rushing game which ranked third in the NFL). Fasano would add help on the line, allow the Giants to continue developing last year’s sixth-round pick Jerell Adams, and also not prevent them from possibly drafting one of the athletic rookie tight ends who had the league salivating at the Combine last week.
Offensive linemen like Russell Okung and Matt Kalil could eventually be in the Giants’ price range as well.
In the meantime, the Giants will be monitoring some of their own free agents. Defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, linebacker Keenan Robinson and guard John Jerry are testing the market but could come back if they don’t get decent offers elsewhere. That process could take a few days to work through.
Until then, the Giants may see free agency this year very differently than they have in recent years: As a chance to catch their breath.