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Cover 4: Questions for Giants heading into new league year


The crew discusses biggest questions for the team heading into the new league year:

John Schmeelk: How will the Giants allocate their money? Does that seem overly broad? Maybe, but the Giants have a lot of resources to spend in free agency and deciding which positions and players get those resources will be fascinating. They will also decide the type of contracts they are looking to offer. Would they prefer to spend most of their money on two high-end free agents and some lower-tiered players or spread it out to five or six players that can start and fill holes on the roster?

Joe Schoen has been very firm since he arrived in New York that he prefers to build through the draft and sign players he knows the most about to avoid the risk of spending big money on a player that might not fit. He has also stressed premium positions (QB, WR, OT, DE, CB) and their importance in helping a team build a foundation and win games. This has been a focus in his draft strategy, but it might also inform free agency, where the preference may not be to spend top money on positions where there's a lot of available players, the market is depressed, and starting caliber players can be found at low cost.

To get a bit more specific, the Giants head into the offseason with needs at a number of positions like guard, cornerback, edge player, and three-technique defensive tackle. Safety and running back could also become needs with the impending free agencies of Saquon Barkley and Xavier McKinney.

At the NFL Combine, Schoen also brought up how new defensive coordinator Shane Bowen needs pass rushers to make his defense work. My gut tells me that would be the other position to keep an eye on to target players closer to the top of the market. Both guard and edge are fairly deep free agency classes with options all along the pay spectrum.

Finally, I am fascinated to see how quickly the safety and running back markets move. Both position groups are saturated with veterans that can play at a high level, and both those positions have seen salaries stagnate, or even decrease in some circumstances, even as the salary cap has continued to rise. Will players at those positions jump at the first good offer they receive or try to wait out the market and cash in later? I can't wait to find out starting Monday at noon when the negotiating period begins.

Dan Salomone: The next few weeks won't just answer questions about free agency; they will inform us about the draft. The NFL announced compensatory selections on Friday, which locked in the full order for all 32 clubs. The Giants have seven selections at their disposal, including four in the top 70. So, while the salary cap exploding by $30 million dollars this year forced the Giants to "recalibrate" their plans, they also have plenty of currency in the form of draft picks. How those work together is the biggest question for Schoen and the staff.

"The roster is fluid," Schoen said recently at the NFL Scouting Combine. "We still have free agency. The roster could look a lot different in three weeks from now based on what we do in free agency. So, that's evolving. It's hard to answer (if we would trade up) right now because of the way the roster is going to look, and that'll help set our plan as we go into the draft. Some of it's going to be based on what we do in free agency, and again, the exposure to the players."

Schoen added, "Free agency will set the table for some of the decisions we make in the draft. It's an exciting time for us."

View photos of's list of the top 101 free agents of 2024.

Lance Medow: My focus is all on the quarterback, and free agency absolutely factors into that position. No matter how much you want to speculate about what the Giants will do with the sixth overall pick, even if they take a quarterback, there's a need for a proven commodity on the roster. Putting aside the team record, you can't look back at the 2023 season without discussing Tyrod Taylor's value and how having him on the roster enabled them to remain competitive in several games.

When you take into consideration Daniel Jones' injury history and him coming off a torn ACL, New York needs to account for an insurance policy and here's where a veteran like Taylor enters the equation. Do they re-sign him? Do they pursue another player under that umbrella? I would argue that's a necessity. It's not to say younger options can't be successful, but 2023 proved to be a strong reminder not just for the Giants but the rest of the league how important it is to have a reliable backup quarterback on the roster. The Jets lost Aaron Rodgers four snaps into the season, Kirk Cousins suffered the same injury with the Vikings, Joe Burrow went down for the Bengals, same can be said for Deshaun Watson, and the Browns and Anthony Richardson became a spectator for the Colts a few contests into his rookie campaign. Only one of those teams managed to make the playoffs. That's why the quarterback depth chart is my biggest question entering free agency.

Matt Citak: Perhaps the biggest question facing the Giants this offseason is how to improve the offensive line. The Giants surrendered a league-high 85 sacks this past season, 20 more than any other team. This came one year after the unit allowed 49 sacks, which was tied for the fifth-most in the NFL. Having said that, the offensive line was likely going to be towards the top of the list of priorities for the Giants regardless of free agent statuses. But when you add in the fact that Justin Pugh and Ben Bredeson, the two players that started the most games at the two guard positions last season, are both set to become unrestricted free agents, while guard Mark Glowinski has already been released, it becomes easy to see how addressing the O-line has to be the No. 1 priority for Joe Schoen this week. With Tyre Phillips and Matt Peart also about to become free agents, the Giants could look to add a swing tackle this offseason, in addition to several interior linemen. As it stands today, Andrew Thomas is locked in as the franchise's left tackle while John Michael Schmitz will anchor the line at center and Evan Neal looks to bounce back. Other than those three, the only other offensive linemen currently under contract are Joshua Ezeudu, Marcus McKethan, and players on reserve/future deals.

This year's draft sets up well for the Giants to help the offensive line. Many analysts have said that this year's draft class is filled with talented players up front, both on the interior and at tackle. In fact, the offensive line, along with the wide receiver position, are widely considered to be two of the top position groups. With the Giants having four picks in the top 70 and five in the top 108, they could look to the draft to address some of their needs on the O-line. But they cannot rely solely on the draft to improve the protection. There is a talented crop of veteran free agent guards that are set to hit the open market at the start of the new league year, and the Giants could certainly get involved with some of the top guys in that group. Between free agency and the draft, the Giants are going to add several players to boost the protection up front over the next few months.

NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah released his updated ranking of the top 50 prospects in the 2024 NFL Draft.


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