The Giants.com crew was asked to describe the team's first week in free agency with one word. But first, let's re-cap what has happened so far.
The team agreed to terms with the following free agents, according to media reports. The agreements are contingent on the players passing physicals.
John Schmeelk: Prudent. Teams are not built in free agency. Teams can improve, and can sometimes be put over the top if they are already playoff caliber, but they aren't built in free agency. It is Dave Gettleman's third year as general manager and the Giants are still building. With the additions of players like Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, Dexter Lawrence, Jabrill Peppers and Leonard Williams, they are certainly further along in their build than they were the last couple years, but there is still more to do.
When all is said and done in free agency and the 2020 draft, the Giants will take a big step forward if the players they drafted from 2017-2019 develop as expected. Free agency is useful to supplement those players, and fill any glaring holes on the roster left from departed players from the previous year's roster.
The Giants released Alec Ogletree in February, and Ryan Connelly is recovering from an ACL injury. Even after re-signing David Mayo, the team needed someone at inside linebacker who could lead and communicate on the field. Blake Martinez is a steady MIKE linebacker who can do those things.
With Markus Golden a free agent and Kareem Martin released in February, Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines are the only edge rushers left on the roster who played significant roles last year. Kyler Fackrell is a good complementary rusher who can play the Golden role from a year ago if he does not re-sign.
The Giants return several young cornerbacks who played large roles last year, but lacked a seasoned veteran capable of covering the opposing team's best receiver. James Bradberry is only 26 years old and can fill that role perfectly.
Eli Manning retired, leaving the quarterback room one short, so the Giants reached an agreement with Colt McCoy. Mike Remmers, the team's starting right tackle, was no longer under contract, so the team signed Cameron Fleming to fill the role of swing tackle and compete for a starting job.
Free agency is about filling immediate needs so the team can pick the best available players in the draft. The Giants did that while avoiding disrupting their future financial flexibility. Mission accomplished.
Dan Salomone: "Smart." At the NFL Scouting Combine, which seems like a decade ago, coach Joe Judge was asked what traits he will look for in free agency. The first words out of his mouth were "smart players who can execute the assignment, who can play situationally aware." Well, for starters, the Giants reportedly added three Stanford products in offensive tackle Cam Fleming (Aeronautics and Astronautics major), linebacker Blake Martinez (Management Science & Engineering) and tight end Levine Toilolo (Information Science & Technology in Society). They will now be coached by two Ivy Leaguers in offensive coordinator Jason Garrett (Princeton) and defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Patrick Graham (Yale). Judge, meanwhile, is a dissertation short of his PhD.
"Smart" also applies to the approach. If you expected general manager Dave Gettleman to make a splash move in free agency and mortgage the future, you don't know him. If the first few months of the Gettleman-Judge era have shown us anything, it's that they want substance over flash. And that sounds pretty smart to me.
Lance Medow: The one term that comes to mind following the Giants "first week of free agency" is familiarity. The majority of the reported additions have connections to either the front office or coaching staff, which seems to be a trend across the NFL. Dave Gettleman drafted corner James Bradberry (2016 2nd round pick) when he served as Carolina Panthers GM, linebackers Blake Martinez and Kyler Fackrell both played for defensive coordinator Patrick Graham in Green Bay in 2018 when Graham was the Packers' linebackers coach, Nate Ebner was a key special teams player for Joe Judge for eight seasons in New England, and offensive lineman Cam Fleming played for offensive coordinator Jason Garrett and offensive line coach Marc Colombo in Dallas for the last two seasons.
That's five players who already have some familiarity with the coaching staff/schemes. So why is that notable? Well, it's fair to say we're entering an NFL offseason with many more questions than answers given the current state of the country. The timetable for a return to the field is completely up in the air and it wouldn't surprise me if the 2020 offseason resembles 2011 when the league dealt with a lockout and didn't resume activities until well into training camp. When you have a first-time head coach and a completely new coaching staff along with several new players on the roster, it doesn't hurt if they already have some familiarity with one another to aid the communication process during these unique circumstances when face-to-face interaction could be very rare.
The addition of Bradberry provides a much-needed veteran to complement an extremely young group of corners. DeAndre Baker, Sam Beal, Corey Ballentine and Julian Love all have just one season under their belts. Bradberry is a polished veteran who has held his own against some of the top wide receivers. His presence should alleviate the pressure on the opposite side of the field. Martinez has led the Packers in tackles in each of the last three seasons and has been among the NFL leaders in that category. With the departure of Alec Ogletree and Ryan Connelly coming off a torn ACL, inside linebacker was a need, and Kyler Fackrell will help bolster a pass rush that produced 36 sacks and finished 22nd in the NFL in 2019. Fackrell had just one sack last season, but he collected a career-high 10.5 under Graham in 2018 and recorded at least half a sack in seven games that season. Regardless of what happens with Markus Golden, who is a free agent, the Giants need additional players capable of getting after the quarterback and Fackrell is intriguing, given his history with Graham.
Special teams has been a strong facet of the team the last few seasons and considering that's how Nate Ebner made a name for himself in the league, his arrival will help maintain the unit's productivity under coordinator Thomas McGaughey. Remember, key special teamer Michael Thomas is a free agent and Antonio Hamilton just joined the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs. While it remains to be seen how the right tackle competition plays out, Fleming will surely be in the mix to replace Mike Remmers, who also left for Kansas City. Fleming has versatility as a swing tackle and guard. I look at him as a "Sean Locklear" type of player, who proved to be a valuable addition in 2012, when he filled many different roles on the Giants offensive line.
NFL.com ranks the top 101 players in the 2020 free agency cycle.