The new league year is right around the corner.
The NFL calendar officially flips to 2021 on March 17, when all 2020 player contracts expire and thus free agency begins. The league has finally set the salary cap at $182.5 million, down from $198.2 million in 2020 as the league deals with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the placement of the franchise tag on Leonard Williams, the Giants now have 15 players set to become free agents next week.
In anticipation of what has already been a wild offseason for player movement, NFL.com ranked the top 101 free agents of 2021. A few players' names have been crossed off the list, as several free agents have already agreed to deals with new teams. However, other big names remain.
While we wait to see what the team does, Giants.com broke down the roster as it currently stands in the "2021 Free Agency Position Preview" series. Here you will find the Giants' current depth, the team's pending free agents, and the top players available from across the league at each position with analysis from NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal.
The other free agency previews can be found here: offensive playmakers at wide receiver and tight end, edge rushers, quarterbacks and running backs, defensive tackles and linebackers and offensive linemen.
Now it's time to dive into the secondary.
Current depth: James Bradberry, Darnay Holmes, Isaac Yiadom, Ryan Lewis, Madre Harper, Jarren Williams (reserve/future deal), Quincy Wilson (reserve/future deal)
Pending free agents: None
The Giants added Bradberry last offseason and the move immediately paid dividends. Bradberry was one of the top corners in the NFL last year, registering a career-high 18 passes defensed (tied for second-most in the league) on his way to making his first Pro Bowl. Holmes was a third-round pick in last year's draft and went on to play 12 games (five starts) in his rookie campaign. Yiadom was acquired in a trade with the Broncos at the end of training camp and started 10 games for the Giants. Lewis was signed to the practice squad at the beginning of the season and wound up playing five games (three starts) for the Giants. Harper signed with the Giants a few weeks into the season and appeared in 10 games last season. Jarren Williams and Quincy Wilson spent time on the practice squad last year. Both were signed to reserve/future deals at the end of the season.
View the team's current depth on the roster at cornerback.
Top cornerbacks available according to NFL.com (comments from NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal):
Shaquill Griffin (No. 18), Seattle Seahawks: "After four admittedly streaky years in Seattle, Griffin is undeniably an above-average starting cornerback. The thin market at the position could bump up his price tag."
William Jackson (No. 25), Cincinnati Bengals: "Youngish cornerbacks with some terrific highs in their careers are few and far between in this market. Jackson is a prime candidate to get more money than expected."
Jason Verrett (No. 31), San Francisco 49ers: "This is the part of the free agent list where I'm willing to take a chance. Verrett is the type of boom-or-bust signing who is worth a shot on a one-year deal for a contending team."
Ronald Darby (No. 32), Washington Football Team: "It feels like Darby is available in free agency every season. I usually rate him higher than the market does and finally felt justified after he ranked 12th out of 79 qualifiers in PFF's 2020 cornerback grades."
Mike Hilton (No. 38), Pittsburgh Steelers: "With flair for days, the Steelers slot corner would bring energy and versatility to any team that knows how to use him."
Malcolm Butler (No. 45), Tennessee Titans: "Released after his best season with the Titans because of his big salary, Butler is an asset as a highly competitive, if streaky, starting cornerback. A nice buy-low candidate."
Richard Sherman (No. 49), San Francisco 49ers: "Sherman is only one year removed from a remarkable late-career second-team All-Pro season. A calf injury in 2020 limited him to 321 snaps, most of them at less than full strength."
Xavier Rhodes (No. 51), Indianapolis Colts: "Rhodes showed in Indianapolis he still has quality snaps to give in the right scheme."
Michael Davis (No. 52), Los Angeles Chargers: "Undrafted free agents with forgettable names and prominent mustaches tend to get ignored, which is a shame for this solid starting cornerback."
Janoris Jenkins (No. 55), New Orleans Saints: "Jenkins still competes; he ranked 28th in PFF's grading among 80 cornerbacks who played half of their team's snaps last year. A return to New Orleans remains possible."
K'Waun Williams (No. 58), San Francisco 49ers: "See above. Williams may have some injury risk like Tartt, but he's been one of the best slot cornerbacks in the NFL during stretches of his career."
Patrick Peterson (No. 60), Arizona Cardinals: "The Cardinals asked a lot of Peterson the last two years, and it did not pay off for the future Hall of Fame candidate. The right coach should still be able to find a role for him."
Desmond King (No. 73), Tennessee Titans: "After falling out of favor with the Chargers, King helped the Titans' secondary down the stretch last season. He has special teams value, too."
Bashaud Breeland (No. 76), Kansas City Chiefs: "Cornerback is a weird position: You can have a name brand and make huge dollars, or you can be a guy like Breeland, going year-to-year while always giving his team creditable starts."
Quinton Dunbar (No. 81), Seattle Seahawks: "Inconsistent play will hurt Dunbar's market, but there is plenty of upside here."
Casey Hayward (No. 82), Los Angeles Chargers: "Perhaps the most underrated cornerback of his generation, Hayward's struggles in 2020 came out of nowhere. He's not far removed from high-level play."
Troy Hill (No. 86), Los Angeles Rams: "There's a reason Hill kept getting snaps in Los Angeles over the last five years (usually making the most of them): He's competitive as hell."
Chidobe Awuzie (No. 95), Dallas Cowboys: "I remain surprised that Awuzie hasn't had a better career thus far, because he can look so good when he's right."
View NFL.com's updated rankings of the top 101 free agents of 2021 ahead of the new league year, which begins March 17.
Current depth: Jabrill Peppers, Logan Ryan, Julian Love, Xavier McKinney, Montre Hartage (reserve/future deal)
Pending free agents: Nate Ebner, Adrian Colbert
Peppers was acquired in a trade with the Browns in 2019. He started 14 games for the Giants last season with an interception, a forced fumble and 2.5 sacks. Ryan was signed at the end of training camp and went on to be an integral part of the defense. He forced three fumbles and had an interception to go with 94 tackles in 16 games, and was signed to a contract extension towards the end of the season. Love was a fourth-round pick in 2019 and played in all 16 games with six starts last season. McKinney was a second-round pick last season and after missing the first 10 games of the year with a broken foot, he returned to start four of the last six games. Hartage spent most of the season on the practice squad before being signed to a reserve/future deal at the end of the season. Ebner was signed last offseason and went on to play a big role on special teams, while Colbert was claimed off waivers at the end of training camp and played in six games with two starts for Big Blue. Both are set to become free agents.
Top safeties available according to NFL.com (comments from NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal):
John Johnson (No. 23), Los Angeles Rams: "The secret back-end weapon in the Rams' defense last year could possibly join his old coach Brandon Staley without changing stadiums."
Anthony Harris (No. 37), Minnesota Vikings: "His play dipped in 2020 after a torrid season and a half in the starting lineup. The depth in the free agent safety class could hurt Harris' bottom line."
Jaquiski Tartt (No. 57), San Francisco 49ers: "I like medium-risk/high-reward free agent signings like Tartt. He's a devastating tone-setter with explosive skills and significant injury risk."
Xavier Woods (No. 64), Dallas Cowboys: "Any Cowboys defender associated with last season's meltdown figures to come at a discount. Woods was quietly an effective player before defensive coordinator Mike Nolan arrived."
Keanu Neal (No. 68), Atlanta Falcons: "Injuries have taken a toll, but Neal started to show flashes of his physical form down the stretch last year. Would Dan Quinn bring him to Dallas?"
Malik Hooker (No. 85), Indianapolis Colts: "Players coming off major injuries like Hooker's torn Achilles can often be underpaid in free agency."
Rayshawn Jenkins (No. 99), Los Angeles Chargers: "Man, there are a lot of flavors of safeties available in free agency. It shows that front offices view them like the running backs of the defense, always replaceable."
View the team's current depth on the roster at safety.