The Giants have not signed any big-time names in free agency this year. John Mara said that's partly because of the dearth of big-time talent in the market.
"There were obviously some star players out there, but for the most part, I thought it was a mediocre free-agent class and I think a lot of guys got paid more money than maybe they would have in other years because there was a lot of cap room out there," Mara, the Giants president and CEO, said on Thursday. "I think the guys who we got will help us, but we still have a long way to go."
Those guys -- the likes of Shane Vereen, Dwayne Harris and J.T. Thomas along with the re-signing of Mark Herzlich, Henry Hynoski and, on Thursday, tight end Daniel Fells -- have not generated much buzz. While other teams have been swapping, signing and cutting big names at a frenzied pace for the last week and a half, the Giants have mostly stayed out of the fray.
"We added some depth, which I thought we needed," Mara said. "There weren't any big, splashy signings but I thought we helped ourselves. We've still got some holes to fill, but so far, so good with what we've done."
Mara spoke at the PAL's William J. Duncan Center in Manhattan, where a $250,000 donation from his family helped renovate the building. Renovating a team costs much more. And the Giants did spend last year when they brought in more than $100 million worth of free agents.
"You can't do that every year and, quite frankly, when you do stuff like that, more often than not, it doesn't work out," Mara said. "This game still comes down to drafting well, re-signing your own guys and then filling in in free agency. Every once in a while, you might have a year where you have to spend big, but -- in my opinion and in our opinion -- this was not the year to do that."
Mara said the Giants did have a lot of interest in safety Devin McCourty, who ultimately resigned with the Patriots. And they made a call on Ndamukong Suh, too, but quickly realized he was too pricey for them.
So they decided to Spackle some holes rather than rebuild the walls, even though those beams have supported two straight losing seasons.
"You can't be comfortable when you are coming off 6-10," Mara said. "But I think I said after the season that if we could just get half of the guys back healthy and have a good draft, I think we'll have a very competitive team."
They're certainly not winning free agency. But, as Mara pointed out, they're not trying to.
Notes & quotes: Mara said there is nothing to a report regarding a possible extension for Eli Manning, who has just the 2015 season left on his contract. "Obviously, we'd like to get something done at some point," he said . . . As for Jason Pierre-Paul, Mara said the Giants still want to sign him to a long-term deal, but only at the right price. Mara said the team would be comfortable letting JPP play 2015 under the franchise tag . . . There have been no discussions about a possible return of Osi Umenyiora to the Giants, Mara said, although he noted that he would like to see Umenyiora "retire as a Giant." Mara said it was difficult to say goodbye to Antrel Rolle in free agency and equated it to having to part with Justin Tuck and Ahmad Bradshaw in recent offseasons. "That's just the nature of the business," he said.