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Mailbag: Roster decisions, possible FA targets

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Bruce in New York: Saquon Barkley & Devontae Booker had similar stats last season. With Barkley still recovering, why did the Giants jettison Booker?

John Schmeelk: For one, Barkley should be healthy entering the 2022 season. He is not recovering from any serious injuries, other than typical bumps and bruises, to close out last season. Booker's departure had everything to do with the salary cap. Booker was a very capable and useful backup running back, but GM Joe Schoen needed to clear out cap room to improve other areas (such as the offensive line) of the team in free agency.

Joe in New Jersey: Recently, I heard Tiki Barber say the Giants are not that far away from being a competitive team. Do you agree?

John Schmeelk: It depends what you mean by competitive. If you mean a team capable of being within a couple of games of .500 and being alive in the final couple of months for a playoff spot? Sure, the team isn't too far away from doing so. If they catch some breaks, win more of their close games and stay healthy, they can be in that zone. If the Giants didn't lose Daniel Jones for the final six games last season, they could have been competitive against teams like the Dolphins, Eagles, Bears and Washington. If they won two or of those games, and beat either Washington or Atlanta in those close games to start the season, the Giants would have finished with seven wins. Obviously, there are some "ifs" (health), but the path to seven or eight wins is not hard to see. Becoming a team that can compete for the Super Bowl or even win one or two playoff games is a different conversation.

Greg in New Jersey: Who do you think the Giants will be letting go when it comes to free agency in order to clear up cap space? Also, who do you see the Giants targeting in free agency with the cleared up cap space?

John Schmeelk: If you want to try to figure out some of the potential players, take a look at the cap hits on the roster and find the players whose exit would provide the most cap savings for the team. Many of them are good players the team would hate to lose, which is what makes this so difficult. They are mostly veterans toward the end of their deals.

The Giants' needs could be altered by who they decided to let go to clear sap space. Right now, focus on targeting mid- to lower-tier free agent offensive linemen. Andrew Thomas might be the only returning starter and you can't have him joined by four rookies. The Bills often targeted mid-tier offensive linemen when Schoen was there.

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