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: edge rushers, defensive tackles and linebackers, quarterbacks and running backs, defensive backs and offensive linemen.
Now let's check out the offensive playmakers.
Current depth: Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, Dante Pettis, Austin Mack, David Sills V, Alex Bachman (reserve/future deal), Derrick Dillon (reserve/future deal)
Pending free agents: C.J. Board (Restricted FA)
The wide receiver corps will look a little different in 2021 after the Giants released veteran Golden Tate, who caught 84 passes for 1,064 yards (12.7-yard avg.) and eight touchdowns in two seasons with Big Blue. Sterling Shepard, meanwhile, will return as the longest-tenured Giant after being selected in the second round of the 2016 draft. He signed a contract extension prior to the 2019 season. Darius Slayton was drafted in the fifth round in 2019 and is now entering his third season with the Giants. Dante Pettis was claimed off waivers in November and played in the final two games for the Giants.
Austin Mack, who was brought on as an undrafted free agent last year, played in 11 games as a rookie. David Sills missed all of last season with a fractured foot, but he was re-signed this offseason. Alex Bachman and Derrick Dillon were both signed to reserve/future deals at the completion of the 2020 season after spending most of the year on the practice squad. C.J. Board, who was claimed off waivers at the end of training camp last year and played in 14 games for the Giants, is set to become a restricted free agent. Cody Core was released prior to the start of free agency after missing all of 2020 with a torn Achilles.
View NFL.com's updated rankings of the top 101 free agents of 2021 ahead of the new league year, which begins March 17.
Top wide receivers available according to NFL.com (comments from NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal):
Kenny Golladay (No. 6), Detroit Lions: "An injury-marred 2020 season won't erase memories of Golladay skying over defenders and winning 1-on-1 matches on the outside, a difficult skill set to find."
Will Fuller (No. 12), Houston Texans: "Finally healthy and on his way to a monster season, Fuller's 2020 campaign was cut short by a PED suspension that will also sideline him for Week 1 of next season. The NFL equivalent of a plus-minus NBA standout, Fuller's speedy presence on the field has proven to make everyone around him better."
Curtis Samuel (No. 14), Carolina Panthers: "It took Panthers coach Matt Rhule to show Samuel's full value, helping him to top 1,000 yards from scrimmage with a mix of route trees and surprisingly potent inside runs. He's a perfect weapon for today's wide-open offenses."
JuJu Smith-Schuster (No. 15), Pittsburgh Steelers: "He's known for his social media, yet JuJu's game is decidedly old school. A perfect No. 2 receiver who can do all the dirty work with incredible toughness over the middle."
Corey Davis (No. 21), Tennessee Titans: "Consider it a red flag the Titans thought so little of Davis a year ago that they didn't exercise his fifth-year option. After he recorded 984 yards in 14 games, they may regret that decision like they regret letting Jack Conklin walk a year ago."
T.Y. Hilton (No. 33), Indianapolis Colts: "Smaller receivers don't always age well, but Hilton's tape last year was a lot more impressive than his final numbers."
Nelson Agholor (No. 44), Las Vegas Raiders: "It's hilarious to think of Agholor's five seasons in Philadelphia, where he was used as a chain-moving slot receiver. He doubled his yards per catch in Las Vegas (18.7 in 2020; 9.3 in 2019) and probably doubled his salary."
John Brown (No. 46), Buffalo Bills: "Brown missed most of two of the last four seasons, which is why the Bills didn't keep him. He is a rare vertical difference-maker, however, every time he steps on the field."
Marvin Jones (No. 47), Detroit Lions: "Still flush with mid-air ball skills, Jones pulled off one of the toughest feats in the NFL: He made it to the very end of a five-year free agent contract! (And his 978-yard 2020 campaign could earn him one more nice payday.)"
Sammy Watkins (No. 50), Kansas City Chiefs: "Playoff heroics aside, Watkins hasn't topped 700 yards in a season since 2015. In related news, he has missed at least six games three of the last five years."
Antonio Brown (No. 54), Tampa Bay Buccaneers: "A.B. was more productive than you might remember (483 yards in eight regular-season games), but still wasn't the old Antonio Brown. The risk-reward ratio now looks out of whack unless your team employs Tom Brady at quarterback."
Cordarrelle Patterson (No. 66), Chicago Bears: "Patterson is ranked this high because he's one of the best special teams players in NFL history, not because of his efficiency as an offensive weapon (no matter how hard coaches still try)."
Emmanuel Sanders (No. 87), New Orleans Saints: "It's not a great sign that the Saints cut Sanders after one up-and-down season, but he should still be able to help a team out as a savvy No. 3 wideout."
Breshad Perriman (No. 93), New York Jets: "If you need cheap, capable speed on the outside, Perriman is your guy."
View the current depth on the roster at the wide receiver position.
Current depth: Evan Engram, Kaden Smith, Levine Toilolo, Nakia Griffin-Stewart (reserve/future deal), Rysen John (reserve/future deal), Nate Wieting (reserve/future deal)
Pending free agents: None
Evan Engram, who made his first Pro Bowl in 2020, is entering his fifth season with the Giants after being selected with the 23rd overall pick in 2017. He is joined by Kaden Smith, who has played in 24 games with the Giants over the last two seasons. Levine Toilolo signed with the Giants last offseason and played in all 16 games last year. Nakia Griffin-Stewart, Rysen John and Nate Wieting were all signed to reserve/future deals after spending parts of the 2020 season on the practice squad.
Top tight ends available according to NFL.com:
Jonnu Smith (No. 16), Tennessee Titans: "Closer to a poor man's Gronk or Delanie Walker than a Travis Kelce-type, Smith's value goes beyond the box score. He's an incredible red-zone weapon."
Hunter Henry (No. 17), Los Angeles Chargers: "It's OK if Henry doesn't ever develop into Tony Gonzalez. Putting up more than 600 yards annually with a knack for field-stretching plays up the seam is going to make Henry rich."
Rob Gronkowski (No. 43), Tampa Bay Buccaneers: "I wanted to rank Gronk lower before realizing he finished in the top 10 among tight ends in yards (623) and touchdowns (7), all while blocking well and rarely leaving the field. He will live forever."
Gerald Everett (No. 70), Los Angeles Rams: "Sean McVay could never fully unlock Everett, but the tight end has the size and speed to carve out a long NFL career."
Dan Arnold (No. 89), Arizona Cardinals: "Arnold's listed at 220 pounds, helping to explain why he's one of the most purely athletic pass-catching tight ends in football."
Jared Cook (No. 98), New Orleans Saints: "While untimely drops and/or mental mistakes are part of the Jared Cook package, he's still capable of significant production."
View the current depth on the roster at the tight end position.