QB Kerry Collins (1999)
MICHAEL EISEN:** The strong-armed quarterback started 67 consecutive regular-season games, threw for 16,875 yards and 81 touchdowns and led the Giants to the 2000 NFC Championship and a berth in Super Bowl XXXV.
JOHN SCHMEELK: I realize Kerry Collins did not win a Super Bowl, but I put him on top of this list for a couple of reasons. First, the odds of finding a franchise caliber quarterback in free agency is extremely small. There were also significant risks in signing Collins due to his past problems. Despite that, the Giants hit a homerun with Collins, who provided excellent quarterback play between the Phil Simms and Eli Manning eras. He led the Giants to a Super Bowl, and even though the team didn't win, he put them back in the championship conversation. Quarterback is the one position a franchise cannot afford to miss on, and the Giants didn't miss on Collins.
WR Plaxico Burress (2005)
MICHAEL EISEN:** Forever etched in Giants lore because he scored the game-winning touchdown in Super Bowl XLII. One of the most talented receivers in Giants history, he caught 244 passes and scored 33 touchdowns in 57 regular-season games.
JOHN SCHMEELK: The way Burress' Giants career ended took him out of the top spot on my rankings. He was the Giants' biggest weapon on the way to winning Super Bowl XLII, and there might not have been a more important player on that team. He owned the Philadelphia Eagles, who could never figure out a way to cover him. But the Giants 2008 team was even better than the 2007 team that won the Super Bowl, and Burress' off the field issues at the end of that year dashed the Giants' chances of repeating as champions.
LB Antonio Pierce (2005)
MICHAEL EISEN:** Arrived in 2005 and immediately became a team leader. Started all 75 games, including six in the postseason, he played for the Giants, led the team in tackles in three consecutive seasons and was a three-time captain, including in the 2007 championship season.
JOHN SCHMEELK: At middle linebacker, Antonio Pierce was a leader on and off the field for a Giants defense that helped win Super Bowl XLII. An undrafted free agent out of Arizona, Pierce carried that chip on his shoulder for his entire career. With off the charts football intelligence, Pierce would diagnose plays before the snap based simply on formation and down and distance due to his extensive film study. Splitting two defenders and tackling Brandon Jackson on a screen pass against the Packers in the 2008 NFC Championship game is a play I'll never forget. I've never seen a fiercer competitor or better leader of men on the defensive side of the football. In some ways the Giants are still trying to replace everything Pierce brought to the field.
Center Shaun O'Hara (2004) & OT Kareem McKenzie (2005)
MICHAEL EISEN:** Shaun O'Hara played in the center of the offensive line that was the heart and soul of the Super Bowl XLII champions. O'Hara wasn't drafted, but he became a three-time Pro Bowler and a captain in the 2007 world champion Giants.
JOHN SCHMEELK: I couldn't choose between these two blue collar, smart, powerful, and nasty (in a good way) offensive linemen. Kareem McKenzie was a starter at right tackle for two Giants Super Bowl championships, while Shaun O'Hara made three Pro Bowls as the centerpiece of the dominant unit. Both players were integral parts of a Giants offensive line that was one of the best in football between 2006 and 2010. Both players had unique personalities that fit in perfectly in the locker room and made the offensive line as entertaining to spend time with as watch dominate on the field. They protected Eli Manning with stubborn determination and opened holes for Brandon Jacobs with ferocious effort. I couldn't leave either one off the list.
Safety Antrel Rolle (2010)
MICHAEL EISEN:** Signed by the Giants one day after he was cut by Arizona, Rolle has never missed a game in five seasons with the Giants. He led the team in tackles every season from 2011-13, helped the Giants win Super Bowl XLVI, represented the Giants in two Pro Bowls and was voted a team captain each of the last two seasons.
JOHN SCHMEELK: Antrel Rolle took up Antonio Pierce's mantle and became the defensive leader of the Giants after he arrived as a free agent in 2010. He has played five productive seasons for the Giants, never missed a game due to injury, and left it all out on the field mentally, emotionally and physically. I haven't seen a more unselfish player or better teammate. Rolle volunteered to play positions he was not naturally suited for just because it was better for the team. His ability to play slot corner (even when he sometimes struggled there) saved the team many times in his half decade with Big Blue. Rolle's play was a huge part of the Giants defensive turnaround late in 2011, and their miracle run to the Super Bowl.
Here are the Giants top 5 free agent signings over the years