In this series, the Giants.com crew is presented with four statements, and they must decide whether they are fact or fiction.
The release of veteran guard Kevin Zeitler changes what you think the Giants will do in the draft.
John Schmeelk: Fiction – It's been easy to flip-flop on this answer. The Giants appeared as though they could be interested in an offensive lineman early in the draft, but then Dave Gettleman professed his confidence in the current young linemen on the roster during this week's media session. He didn't sound like a general manager looking to add a sure-fire starter early in the draft. Then, the Giants let go of their most consistent offensive lineman last year in Kevin Zeitler. For a moment, thoughts moved in the other direction. But watching the players getting cut around the league means the team might be able to get a starting-level veteran guard in free agency at a very reasonable cost, given the potential favorable buyer's market. Given the youth on the roster, there's a better chance an offensive lineman is added in free agency to complement the rest of the unit, rather than adding more youth in the draft.
Dan Salomone: Fact – The Giants released 134 games of starting experience in Kevin Zeitler. The decision came one day after general manager Dave Gettleman praised the team's young linemen and just before the NFL announced the reduced salary cap number for 2021. No one ever says, "I don't need any more offensive linemen." The Giants could bolster the position and make the group even younger through the draft.
Lance Medow: Fiction - The Giants releasing Kevin Zeitler doesn't change the thinking at all because they still have to get through free agency and the draft is about more than the just 2021 season. On top of that, the Giants didn't just decide to release Zeitler a day or two ago. It likely was planned once they knew there would be a noticeable dip in this year's salary cap. When you take all those factors into consideration, their draft plans won't dramatically change.
The Giants will add more 2021 starters in the draft than via free agency.
John Schmeelk: Fiction - They will add more starters in free agency, even if you aren't counting returning starters such as Leonard Williams and Dalvin Tomlinson. The Giants might draft two or three players who can start in Week 1, but this free agent market might provide more of an opportunity to add more help. After doing interviews with industry experts for the Giants Huddle podcast, it seems as if the bottom is going to fall out of this free agent market after the top players are scooped up in the first couple of days. The Giants might be able to grab a starting offensive lineman, edge rusher, and wide receiver without breaking the bank. This becomes even more of a probability if they can agree to a long-term contract with Leonard Williams, which would lower his cap number and give the team more financial flexibility. The draft will yield three starters, at most, by the opening weekend of the NFL season.
Dan Salomone: Fact – Neither number should be that high as the Giants have their core coming back. But if the Giants grab those playmakers we've heard so much about – on either side of the ball – the draft is mostly where it will happen due to their cap number.
Lance Medow: Fact - Based on the dip in the salary cap and the fact that the best way to build a team and keep your franchise in a healthy financial position is through the draft, they'll lean much more on prospects as opposed to proven veterans to fill voids. Based on some of their moves, thus far, such as releasing Golden Tate and Kevin Zeitler, there's no reason why they can't address both of those positions in the draft.
View NFL.com's updated rankings of the top 101 free agents of 2021 ahead of the new league year, which begins March 17.
The free agent market is deeper on defense.
John Schmeelk: Fiction - The deepest position in free agency is edge rusher with Shaquil Barrett, Carl Lawson, Yannick Ngakoue, Jadeveon Clowney, Melvin Ingram, Bud Dupree, Leonard Floyd, Trey Hendrickson, Matthew Judon, Aldon Smith and Haason Reddick hitting the open market. Not all of those players are going to have a seat when the music stops after the first wave of free agency. The shallow cornerback and defensive tackle classes, however, give the advantage to the offense. There are a lot of quality wide receivers available, and it will be interesting to see how many teams are willing to pay big money at that position with so many good ones in the draft. More and more offensive linemen are hitting the market as teams try to get under the diminished $182.5 million salary cap, so proven starters will have a chance to be had at a reasonable cost.
Dan Salomone: Fact - Six of the remaining top 10 free agents according to NFL.com are edge rushers: Shaquil Barrett, Bud Dupree, Trey Hendrickson, Carl Lawson, Jadeveon Clowney, and Matt Judon.
Lance Medow: Fiction - A number of players on both sides of the ball won't even hit the market because they were either tagged or have already re-signed. Once you eliminate all those players from the mix, there's a bit more depth on offense. At wide receiver, you have Kenny Golladay, Will Fuller, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Corey Davis, Antonio Brown, T.Y. Hilton and Curtis Samuel. Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith and Jared Cook highlight the tight end group while Aaron Jones, Chris Carson and James Conner are available at running back. Jameis Winston, Andy Dalton, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tyrod Taylor could compete for starting jobs at quarterback and if you're looking to boost your offensive line, several veterans will be testing the market including Trent Williams, Joe Thuney, Corey Linsley, Alejandro Villanueva, Matt Feiler Daryl Williams, Rick Wagner, Austin Reiter, Eric Fisher, Mitchell Schwartz and Alex Mack.
The Giants will have a relatively quiet free agency period.
John Schmeelk: Fiction - Initially, yes. But once we get to the end of the week and deeper into March, the Giants will try to take advantage of a depressed market and bring in some good players at low-cost, one-year contracts. If they re-sign Leonard Williams and Dalvin Tomlinson (or Williams stays on the franchise tag) this might not be possible under the salary cap, but it still would be a wise allocation of resources. There will be good players available after the first week of free agency who can help teams win games, but may not be able to find lucrative long-term contracts. Instead, these guys will choose teams which can guarantee playing time in a pleasant situation, so they can cash in during free agency in 2022.
Dan Salomone: Fact – A year after they hit home run after home run with veteran free agents, the draft is likely where the greatest impact will be made this of-fseason. This is due to the cap situation in addition to the organization's desire to draft and develop its own players.
Lance Medow: Fact – The Giants will do most of their heavy lifting through the draft as opposed to free agency this off-season. Most of the work in free agency will be to re-sign their own players and not necessarily about bringing in several new faces, especially with big splashes. Even last off-season, the Giants had a relatively quiet free-agency period and you can expect something similar this time.
View the players set to become free agents when the new league year begins March 17.