NFL Free Agency: New York Giants Strike Out On First Wave Of Free Agents


The Start Of 2015 NFL Free Agency Is Not Going Well For the New York Giants

The New York Giants weren’t armed with boatloads of cap space such as their fellow tenants New York Jets or division rival Philadelphia Eagles, but they had enough to do some damage. Disappointingly, it looks as if the Giants will come away empty handed, as the first wave of free agency has not gone according to plan.

The Giants had a very specific list of players they were to target early on and make their priorities during the legal tampering period that began Saturday afternoon. These were the players the Giants would aggressively pursue within their salary cap numbers. It was a good idea in theory, but the Giants are not the only team looking to upgrade their roster in free agency and were beat out for all of their early options.

One of the first players the Giants checked in on was former Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Suh, who many people are considering the best free agent since Reggie White, would cost the Giants a bundle but they wouldn’t be doing their job not checking in. They quickly found out what the rest of the NFL did was that Suh would be way out of their price range as the Miami Dolphins handed him a mega deal in the way of six years and $114 million, $61 million of which is guaranteed.

The Giants were probably interested in adding Suh like every NFL team, but chances of bringing him in were slim as they just couldn’t afford to allocate those kind of resources to a position along the defensive line after offering their own potential free agent, Jason Pierre-Paul, the qualifying offer in the way of the franchise tag.

The next player the Giants inquired with was Devin McCourty, a free agent free safety of the New England Patriots. McCourty, fresh off his Super Bowl victory with the Patriots, was expected to go wherever the money took him. As the best player at a position that was extremely thin on the free agent market, coming off a Super Bowl win and being one of the best up-and-coming players at his position, it was widely expected that McCourty would cash in this offseason.

The Giants, as mentioned earlier, didn’t have a ton of money but they had enough to make some noise, and that noise would have been bringing in McCourty. The Giants have a gaping hole at safety currently on the roster, as Antrel Rolle, Stevie Brown and Quintin Demps are all free agents, leaving late round draft picks Nat Berhe and Cooper Taylor as the only safeties on the roster. Combined, Behre and Taylor have zero starts in the NFL.

McCourty would have filled that void perfectly, much like in 2010 when they signed Rolle to a big contract that made him one of the highest paid safeties in the NFL at the time. He would have brought starting experience, a knowing of what it takes to win, and would be coming home. McCourty was a product of Nyack New York and played his college football at nearby Rutgers.

The Giants made McCourty they player they wanted to invest their money into this offseason, much like they did with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie last season. They wouldn’t have a shortage of competition trying to sign McCourty though, as the Philadelphia Eagles, Jacksonville Jaguars and Indianapolis Colts were all pursuing him in addition to the Patriots.

The Giants were believed to be in the running until the very end, as McCourty looked ready to leave the Patriots for greener pastures. He went as far as telling the Patriots thank you for his time there, then a change of heart came as the Patriots upped their offer to five years and $47.5 million with 28.5 guaranteed. That was enough to keep McCourty in Foxboro, as he will remain a member of the Patriots. It was not without trying though by the Giants and the other teams involved, as Ian Rapoport of NFL Network and reported that McCourty turned down bigger offers to return to the Patriots; essentially their increased offer was enough to keep him from taking the big money being offered elsewhere.

With the safety market basically starting and ending with McCourty, the Giants began to shift their focus to upgrading their pass rush, and moved on to Jerry Hughes, a pass rushing defensive end that was a free agent of the Buffalo BIlls. The Giants thought they had a chance with Hughes, as he looked to be coming to an impasse with the Bills Sunday and heading towards the open market. The Giants were beginning to dream of adding him to bookend Pierre-Paul, which would give the Giants an extremely formidable pass rush.

He was very much so in the Giants price range, as they have shown in the past that defensive line is an area they aren’t afraid to put resources into. His versatility is something that would have fit in with the Giants, as he has shown a strong ability to get the quarterback as either a 4-3 defensive end of 3-4 linebacker. Unfortunately, Big Blue wouldn’t have a legitimate chance at bringing Hughes onboard as the Bills locked him up late Sunday into the early morning hours of Monday with a five year $45 million deal with $22 million guaranteed.

That one hurt the Giants, as it seemed they had a good chance to try and persuade Hughes to come southeast in New York from western New York in Buffalo. The Giants would not have time to hang their heads though, as there was one more player they were targeting as a pass rusher; Brandon Graham of the NFC East division rival Eagles.

Graham, a 2010 first round draft pick of the Eagles, would have fit in well with the Giants. A natural 4-3 defensive end, Graham was playing out of position with the Eagles as a standup 3-4 linebacker, and was not receiving much playing time. He had started only 13 games in five seasons, as the Eagles never gave him consistent playing time. That is something the Giants could have offered, but the one thing the Eagles had in their back pocket was the ability to pay more money.

That is essentially what got Graham to come back, as he agreed to re-sign with the Eagles Monday afternoon. The Giants had lost out to the Eagles, as it was reported that they were the last team in the running for Graham’s services. There was no word what the Giants were offering, but it is hard to imagine they were offering more, or even near, the four years and $26 million Graham and the Eagles agreed to, with $14 million guaranteed.

It has been a rough free agent period for the Giants thus far, and it technically hasn’t even started yet. The official start of the new league year is Tuesday at 4 PM ET, but the Giants will be behind the eight-ball when it starts.

More from New York Giants

They will not be able to fill their safety void as well as the front office and their fans had hoped, but there are still some players available in the second wave of free agency the Giants could target. One way to look at it is that the rest of the offseason can only get better, because missing out on all of their main targets is about as bad a start as the Giants’ offseason and free agent period could have gotten off to.

Next: Who are 10 possible RB for the Giants in 2015?

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