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Giants add five players for depth, including Shane Vereen and Dwayne Harris

New England Patriots running back Shane Vereen celebrates

New England Patriots running back Shane Vereen celebrates after beating the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX on Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz. Credit: AP

How's this for starters?

Five non-starters.

In the fast and furious first few hours of free agency Tuesday, the Giants spent over $55 million on five players who, when the season begins, might not even be at the top of the depth chart or on the field for the first snaps.

Rather than focus on bringing in one or two impact signings, the Giants chose to start the process by adding a slew of role players who will add depth to all three facets of the game. Running back Shane Vereen, linebackers Jonathan Casillas and J.T. Thomas, wide receiver and kick returner Dwayne Harris and offensive tackle Marshall Newhouse all agreed to terms with the team, per various and multiple sources, and are expected to sign their contracts Wednesday after passing their physicals.

That's not to say that they won't be contributors in 2015. Especially Vereen and Harris, who could bring an element of explosiveness to the offense and special teams, respectively.

Vereen spent the first four years of his career with the Patriots, helping them win Super Bowl XLIX last month. He caught 11 passes in the Super Bowl, has caught 99 during the last two seasons, and is expected to be a receiving option out of the backfield for the Giants. The team also has Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams.

General manager Jerry Reese said at the Combine that the team was looking to replace the game-breaking skills it lost with David Wilson's early retirement. He said he was happy with the "big bangers" already on the roster -- Jennings and Williams -- but wanted to add some athleticism. In Vereen, he seems to have found that and a good complement to the inside running abilities of the other two.

Plus, considering the team has had injuries at the position in each of the last three seasons that required them to make midseason additions, having three capable running backs is an insurance policy against having to bring in backups off the street.

Harris, the former Cowboy, provides some insurance in case Victor Cruz is unable to return to form as he recovers from a torn patellar tendon. His primary role, though, will be as a punt and kickoff returner. The Giants tried to rev up their return game last year with the signings of Trindon Holliday and Quintin Demps, but neither provided much spark. Harris also allows the Giants to keep their prized possession -- Odell Beckham Jr. -- out of harm's way as a punt returner.

The additions of Casillas and Thomas seems to indicate that the Giants are revamping their linebacker group that has included Spencer Paysinger, Mark Herzlich and Jacquian Williams for the last four years. Those three are all free agents. Newhouse adds depth to the offensive line but isn't projected as a starter.

The Giants still have a hole at safety. As of last night they did not have anyone on the roster who had ever started an NFL game at the position. They are still interested in free agent Rob Parker, most recently of the Chiefs, and they remain in talks with Stevie Brown about a return. One safety who apparently won't be back is Antrel Rolle. The defensive captain for the last two years is visiting the Bears Wednesday, his agent Drew Rosenhaus said. There are reportedly other teams interested in his services as well.


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