With the Senior Bowl in hindsight, NFL teams will now officially begin targeting prospects for the 2017 NFL Draft. The hopes of finding young talent out of college to fill team needs aren’t alone as they’re accompanied by a couple free agent signings as well. This combination helps to narrow down the number of positions to focus on in the draft. Because the player price tags in free agency can get expensive, it is essential to re-sign current, well-performing players who are becoming free agents. In the case of the New York Giants, here are some players that need to be resigned this offseason.
New York Giants: Free Agents That Need to Be Re-signed
Perhaps the biggest player to address this offseason for Jerry Reese and company would be Jason Pierre-Paul. The defensive end is set to be an unrestricted free agent in March and has spent all 7 of his seasons with the Giants – one for each of his fingers I suppose. This time around, he is not looking to be franchised tagged again and it will require a long-term deal in order for him to sign. This is especially true for New York where he just finished a one-year “prove-it” deal.
In a recent interview, “JPP” reported he wants the same 5-year, $82 million ($52.5 million guaranteed) deal that Olivier Vernon received this offseason. That’s definitely a stretch for a wide variety of reasons, but ultimately he is worth some serious money. Although he stopped playing due to injury in week 12 this season, his output when he played was significant and proved to be of high value to the team. At age 28, he’s still relatively young with tremendous team leadership backed by an elite skillset.
There’s not much question of his contribution to the team when he’s on the field. However, his inability to stay healthy is the real concern when negotiating a new deal. For the money he’s asking for, finishing a season healthy and without missing games has to occur. Is this a reasonable expectation that can actually happen? This is a feat he’s only been able to accomplish once in the past four years.
Aside from on-the-field concerns, cap space is also going to be a battle. With the current cap salary at $169.8 million, the Giants only have an estimated $23.7 million available. Resigning Pierre-Paul is the highest priority, but there are other players to worry about as well. If the price isn’t there, the Giants can’t force it. With these financial conditions, it’s likely that signing him will result in letting Johnathan Hankins walk. This is the smartest move because it’s much easier and cheaper to replace a defensive tackle compared to defensive end.
Linebacker is definitely an area the Giants are looking to improve in next season. Although there is a lot of potential upside currently on the team, the unit is lacking a genuine playmaker. This is something that will likely be addressed in one way or another over this offseason.
Some dead weight is going to have to be cut and it just so happens that two upcoming free agents are inside linebackers. One being Keenan Robinson, and the other being Kelvin Sheppard. Both played decently in 2016 but it’s in the team’s best interest to only re-sign one and let the other go in order to save cap space. Robinson came from the Washington Redskins and at age 27 had a successful first season with the Giants, posting 83 tackles. Sheppard, on the other hand, is two years older, saw fewer snaps, and was only able to record 50 tackles as an outcome. If a decision between the two comes to light, the choice for Jerry Reese should be an easy one.
One of the most interesting stories regarding the organization last year came from the Josh Brown domestic abuse case. After a couple of controversial decisions and procedures, Brown was officially released from the team after earning Pro Bowl honors the prior season. This left the Giants kicker-less just days before their first game in London.
The issue was later resolved with the signing of 35-year-old Robbie Gould. The former Chicago Bears’ kicker finished the regular season with ten field goals made on ten attempts plus going two for two in the playoffs, resulting in perfect 100% accuracy on 12/12 kicking. This was accompanied by making 21 of 24 PAT attempts, a solid number but could certainly be improved. For the right price, Gould is worth keeping. At least for now, as the need for a new kicker won’t be necessary if he can stay replicate this consistency and remain reliable.
One of the smaller bargains of last season was signing veteran cornerback Leon Hall on a one-year $2 million deal. For this kind of money, he’s worth at least another season by providing depth as a veteran who can double as safety. This feature became crucial last season due to the injuries of safeties Darian Thompson and Mykkele Thompson. With his role already established, the 32-year-old knows what’s expected and will continue to receive opportunities to showcase his talents in Steve Spagnuolo’s defense. If Hall can agree to terms on a short-term and cap friendly deal, his value shouldn’t be overlooked and the team should act swiftly before someone else steals him.