NFL Free Agency: New York Giants Day One Recap


NFL Free Agency: New York Giants Have Busy Tuesday Signing 5 Players

The legal tampering period that began Saturday afternoon did not go well for the New York Giants, as they missed out on all of their targets. Once free agency opened Tuesday afternoon though, the Giants got rolling, as they were finally able to lock down some new talent for next season and beyond.

The first move that the Giants made was bringing in former New England Patriots running back Shane Vereen. The Giants were able to fill a gaping need in their backfield with the addition of Vereen, who will bring sure hands and strong pass protection, something they sorely lacked last season. Vereen was never a consistent part of the Patriots game plan, but with the Giants, he looks to have a clear cut role week in and week out.

Vereen totaled 99 receptions the last two seasons with the Patriots, and what the Giants paid for him it is hard to argue they aren’t getting a steal. Vereen will be paid only $1.25 million base salary for 2015, all guaranteed. For what he brings to the table already, and what potential he still has as he is only 26 years old, that is a bargain. Overall, the deal is worth three years and $12.35 million, with $4.75 guaranteed.

Soon after that, the Giants got into the offensive line market, signing Marshall Newhouse. Newhouse has spent time with the Green Bay Packers and Cincinnati Bengals during his four seasons in the NFL. Newhouse has appeared in at least 15 games all four seasons, but has started only seven the last two seasons after starting 29 of the first 32 regular season games in his career.

The former fifth round draft pick from 2010 will more than likely be used as a swing tackle for the Giants, a player that can play either right or left tackle in a pinch. As currently situated the Giants look to have their starting tackles in place with Will Beatty and Justin Pugh, or a rookie the Giants select that will kick Pugh inside to guard. Newhouse, who the Giants gave a two-year $3.25 million contract too, will provide them with good depth as he has starting experience and could step into their starting lineup if needed.

Next up for the Giants was a player they are very familiar with, Dwayne Harris. Harris had spent the first four seasons of his career with the rival Dallas Cowboys. The Giants gave him a surprisingly big contract of five years and $17.5 million, with $7.1 million guaranteed and a $4 million signing bonus, but it could pay off for the Giants if the utilize him more than the Cowboys did.

Right off the bat, Harris will greatly improve the Giants special teams. Harris is one of the best return men in the business, being a potential game breaker as both a kick and punt returner, as he ranked in the top 10 of both last season in yardage. He is also a strong gunner and will help with coverage. This is a good sign for the Giants, as it means that rookie phenom Odell Beckham Jr. will not longer be returning punts. Some people may see this as a negative, but Beckham’s production as a wide receiver is too important to risk on punt returns, so if you have a player with the ability of Harris returning punts you are comfortable removing Beckham Jr. from that role.

There are also many people that believe Harris was under utilized by the Cowboys as a receiver during his tenure there. Harris has only 33 receptions in his career, but unlike Trindon Holliday, who the Giants signed last season as a return man with the wide receiver designation, Harris could be used on the field as a receiver. He will add depth to the Giants there, which is something they had been looking to do with no one knowing how Victor Cruz will recover from his patellar tendon surgery. Harris adds depth there, while also filling a need to improve special teams. If he continues to perform on special teams, and finds a role offensively, the contract some people believe is exorbitant now will look like a steal later on.

The next player the Giants signed will also help bolster their special teams in Jonathan Casillas. Casillas, most recently a fellow Patriot like Vereen, agreed to a three-year, $10.5 million contract with the Giants. Like Harris, Casillas is a very strong special teams player. With how poor the Giants have drafted recently, their special teams have been bare, so signing players to fill those voids has been necessary. The money amount doesn’t add up to some people, but Casillas is a strong special teamer, and will also help the Giants out at linebacker.

Weakside linebacker is where the Giants are thinnest right now, as Jacquian Williams, their starter last season, is a free agent and doesn’t look to be returning. The other linebackers on the roster, Jon Beason, Jameel McClain and Devon Kennard, do not profile as weakside linebackers so he will have a chance to get playing time on the defense as well as special teams. The four of them gives the Giants some solid depth, something that hasn’t been said in a couple of seasons, but is a necessity with Beason being such an injury concern.

Casillas does have some experience starting, and will more than likely be apart of the Giants plans defensively as he brings some versatility to the position, which explains the contract he received. Like Harris, the Giants seemingly have bigger plans than just special teams for both players.

Casillas will not be handed the job though, as he will face some competition in the fifth player the GIants signed Tuesday, linebacker J.T. Thomas, a former member of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Thomas isn’t a player many fans will get excited about, but he is a solid contributor and will help add more much needed depth to the linebacking core. He agreed to a three-year, $12 million dollar deal with Big Blue with $4.5 guaranteed.

Last season for the Jaguars Thomas had a strong season, playing multiple linebacker spots and producing well. He totaled 84 tackles in 16 games, 10 of which were starts once Paul Posluszny went down because of injury. He was also a playmaker, forcing two fumbles, recovering one more and intercepting two passes.

Thomas is still young, only 26 years old right now and 27 when the season starts, and profiles much like the players the Giants have targeted the last two offseason. They may not be starters, but their building the necessary depth that has been missing as injuries have decimated the Giants recently but they never had the players to replace the guys missing time.

Linebacker was more of a need than people realized, as in addition to Williams, Mark Herzlich and Spencer Paysinger were free agents, which made up most of the Giants linebacking unit from last season. Casillas and Thomas are worthwhile replacements, and will not cost the Giants much, as both look to be carrying only $1 million cap hits for 2015.

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All of the players the Giants signed Tuesday could very well be subs, but they all fill a need and most importantly add much needed depth. Right now there is a role each player could fit into, and to get them all the Giants didn’t have to commit major money to. Of the roughly $16 million the Giants had in cap space, not even half of that was used on these five players. The Giants still have some wiggle room to add a much needed safety and a potential starter on both the offensive and defensive lines.

Free agency is not yet even 24 hours old, but there has been plenty of player movement, and it was nice to see the Giants be a part of it. They didn’t add a big name player like some people were hoping, but it is clear that they at least improved the first day of the NFL new league year.

Next: Are New York Giants Closer To A Title Than New York Jets?

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