Three Giants writers share their thoughts on the importance of the upcoming free agency period:
While the Giants' draft position has been getting all the attention this offseason, our writers shift gears and discuss the importance of free agency in this week's Cover 3.
Free agency is very important, especially since it comes before the draft. When Dan and I were in Mobile for the Senior Bowl, general manager Dave Gettleman was careful to make the point that free agency is best used to fill holes before the draft so that you don't have a desperate need on draft night. If you go into a draft thinking you have to draft someone at a certain position, that's where you can get in trouble.
The Giants likely won't have enough cap space to fill every need they have when free agency arrives. Despite some of the impressive talent on the roster, there is a lot of work to do for a team that finished 3-13 last year. It will be interesting to see if Gettleman makes any movies to free up more cap space to give the Giants a little more to work with in free agency.
Once he returned from the Senior Bowl, Dave Gettleman said he was going to turn off his cell phone and watch film until his eyes bled. That was a week ago, so someone should probably go check on him. Starting with the opening of free agency on March 14, we'll get an idea about what he saw in those marathon film sessions by which players return, which players do not, and which new ones come in. Free agency is really where Gettleman earned his reputation as one of the best talent evaluators in the business, and that's where he will make his first major mark on the roster.
While the personnel department explores all options, including potential trades and waiver wires, don't expect to hear many marquee names. Gettleman is known for unearthing diamonds in the rough like Shaun O'Hara and Antonio Pierce during his first tenure with the Giants. As the general manager in Carolina, he also resurrected Michael Oher. The veteran offensive tackle was cut by the Titans in February of 2015 and played in Super Bowl 50 with the Panthers in February of 2016.
"I watched 28 games on him from '12, '13 and '14, and it took two and a half days of just watching him," Gettleman said recently in a radio interview. "That's what you've got to do. I got a conviction, we signed him, and we don't get to the Super Bowl without Michael Oher playing left tackle. It's about the film work. It takes time. You've got to be objective. You can't look at it with any emotion. It's business. Every decision we make here is going to be in the best interest of the New York Football Giants."
If you haven't heard from Gettleman in a while, you'll know what the general manager is doing.
You can't rely on the draft alone or free agency alone to improve your club dramatically. So how effectively teams utilize the combination of the two usually separates the men from the boys when it comes to postseason contenders. I would argue free agency is always important, regardless of how your team fared the previous season, because you have to make decisions by evaluating your in-house talent against players across the league, while also assessing the market. So despite the Giants having a new general manager, I don't think this year's free agency period is unique.
With that being said, the Giants have three starting offensive linemen (Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, D.J. Fluker) scheduled to be free agents, as well as six linebackers, including four players (Jonathan Casillas, Devon Kennard, Keenan Robinson, Kelvin Sheppard) who each started at least three games. Add two running backs to the mix in Orleans Darkwa and Shane Vereen, and it's fair to say those three positions are the ones to watch during free agency. That doesn't mean the Giants are going to be aggressive with those spots, but if they don't re-sign their own, it's a clear indication the team will sign some new talent or address those voids in the draft.
Given the Giants were decimated by injuries in 2017, I'd look for Dave Gettleman to use free agency as a way to build up the depth chart and provide competition at various positions because one draft class won't provide the meat and potatoes of the roster. And remember, free agency isn't about collecting household names; it's about getting the biggest bang for your buck. The team that wins free agency in the court of public opinion rarely hoists the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the season.