Bills quarterback Mitchell Trubisky warms up before the game against the...

Bills quarterback Mitchell Trubisky warms up before the game against the Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on Sept. 19, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. Credit: Getty Images/Michael Reaves

Watching the Giants play football for the past few years has been a difficult endeavor for many fans.

Watching them shop in free agency this offseason might be worse.

Brace for the bargain-bin moves and dumpster-diving decisions the team likely will be making in the coming weeks as the rest of the league loads up on top-shelf talent (or at least talent that comes at top-shelf prices). The financially strapped Giants won’t be shopping in those aisles, even when it comes to trying to fill their most pressing needs, of which there are plenty.

They’ll be nickel-and-diming free agency, and it won’t have anything to do with adding players for their secondary’s sub packages.

"We’ll do what we can in free agency, even if it’s VSBs [veteran salary benefit deals], one-year prove-it deals, we can do those," general manager Joe Schoen said last week at the NFL Combine. "There are going to be ways to fill holes in the roster. Guys that are hungry, maybe they were given a raw deal and didn’t live up to their draft status, or whatever."

The Giants will be the Island of Misfit Toys this free agency period, collecting Charlie-in-the-boxes no one else wants to play with.

Even players who would seem to be ideal fits with the Giants’ new coaching staff such as quarterback Mitchel Trubisky, who played under Brian Daboll with the Bills last season, likely will be out of their range.

Trubisky is a former first-round bust with the Bears who appeared to resurrect his career in Buffalo in 2021 — and it’s "appeared to," because he played in only four games and threw only eight passes as Josh Allen’s backup — but even he could command starting quarterback money in a market that is thin on experienced talent and even more grim on rookies entering through the draft.

Adding a veteran quarterback to push Daniel Jones and also be ready to play if Jones is unable to — especially in light of last year’s debacle with Mike Glennon and Jake Fromm starting the final six games for the Giants — is a priority. Trubisky would have been a terrific signing to fill that role a year ago, when he wound up going to Buffalo on a one-year deal for $2.5 million. Schoen, who helped engineer that deal for the Bills, likely will have to find this year’s version of Trubisky on the scrap heap for the second offseason in a row.

What’s that you say? It’ll be important to have a quarterback in the room familiar with Daboll’s system, and Trubisky would provide that? Yes. But that’s what Davis Webb was brought to the Giants to provide on a one-year reserve/future contract he signed in February.

Those are the types of creative moves the Giants will have to rely on, pulling in players such as Webb or offensive lineman Matt Gono, who agreed to a one-year contract this past week.

Perhaps some markets at some positions will bottom out once free agency begins. There may be some viable and proven starters whose price tags plummet to a range in which the Giants actually can compete in the second and third waves. For the most part, though, the more coveted and recognizable names will be sailing right past the Giants for big paydays with other teams.

It will be agonizing.

It also is a necessary part of the process of moving on from the sins of the previous regime. It is the cleansing of the roster and the contracts and the shadows that linger from both. If done properly, it will allow the Giants to truly begin their rebuild in late April with the draft and then become big players in 2023’s offseason, when they should have plenty of room under the salary cap. That’s when the real fun can begin and the Giants can get back in the fight for big-time players who can push them toward their goals.

Until then, though, big-time free-agent hunting will be mostly a spectator sport for the Giants.

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