2017 Free Agency Preview: New York Giants

Top free agent targets for the New York Giants, players that must be re-signed, team cap space, and more to get you ready for 2017 free agency.

| 3 months ago
Johnathan Hankins

(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

2017 Free Agency Preview: New York Giants


[Editor’s note: This preview was originally published on Feb. 23, 2017, and updated on March 6 to reflect changes in the market do to franchise tags, re-signings, cuts, etc.]

What you need to know

An under-pressure Jerry Reese decided to go aggressive last offseason, overhauling the Giants defensive personnel with a number of high-priced free agents. The additions of Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison and Janoris Jenkins were an unmitigated success. Reese could plausibly attempt to repeat that feat, or he could return to his more cautionary approach. The Giants’ strategy this offseason will be particularly intriguing.

Salary cap room

$14,097,520 (27th in NFL; as of 3/6/17)

Biggest needs

  • Defensive end
  • Offensive tackle
  • Wide receiver
  • Linebacker

Notable free agents

  • Victor Cruz, WR, 53.9
  • Keenan Robinson, LB, 43.4
  • Rashad Jennings, RB, 58.0
  • John Jerry, G, 77.0
  • Johnathan Hankins, DT, 47.1

Must re-sign

Jason Pierre-Paul, Edge, 86.2 overall grade in 2016 (franchise tagged)

The Giants’ resurgence under Steve Spagnuolo owed a great deal to their bookend pass-rushing pair of Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon. It is a long-standing Giants tradition, the duo following in the footsteps of Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora. JPP was hampered by his hand injury, but still managed 54 combined pressures and seven batted passes in 2016. Lowering his cap hit from the franchise tag value of $16.9 million is a priority.

Dream splash

Andrew Whitworth, LT, Cincinnati Bengals, 91.3

The Ereck Flowers experiment continues to falter on the left side. On the right, the Giants were forced to turn back to Marshall Newhouse late in the year. Tackle is a desperate need for New York. What better solution could there be than the league’s best blindside protector over the past decade?

Top 2017 free agency prospects

Pierre Garçon, WR, Washington Redskins, 85.8

Releasing Victor Cruz opens a starting spot opposite Odell Beckham Jr., with Sterling Shepard manning the slot. Garçon’s possession-based style would be the perfect complement to OBJ’s explosive playmaking skills.

Jabaal Sheard, Edge, New England Patriots, 79.6

Should Pierre-Paul receive a game-changing offer — a possibility in this market — the Giants could look at Sheard as an alternative. He is a consistent pass-rusher and won’t require a huge contract, freeing up resources to be used elsewhere.

Zach Brown, LB, Buffalo Bills, 84.1

Brown’s signature would be a first for a Jerry Reese front office. The franchise has frankly refused to invest in the linebacker position in recent memory. Brown would inject an athletic presence into the corps, capable of matching up with the modern specimens at tight end and running.

2017 Free Agency Rankings
Top 50 free agents
Every 2017 free agent ranked by 2016 overall grade
10 free agents who can make an immediate impact
10 veteran free agents worth a one-year contract
10 sleeper free agents who could bring surprise upside
10 splash free-agent signings we’d like to see
Quarterback rankings
Running back rankings
Wide receiver rankings
Tight end rankings
Offensive linemen rankings
Edge defender rankings
Interior defender rankings
Cornerback rankings
Safety rankings
Linebacker rankings

2017 NFL Team Free Agency Previews

DivisionTeam
NFC EastDallas Cowboys
NFC EastNew York Giants
NFC EastPhiladelphia Eagles
NFC EastWashington Redskins
AFC EastBuffalo Bills
AFC EastMiami Dolphins
AFC EastNew England Patriots
AFC EastNew York Jets
NFC WestArizona Cardinals
NFC WestLos Angeles Rams
NFC WestSan Francisco 49ers
NFC WestSeattle Seahawks
AFC WestDenver Broncos
AFC WestKansas City Chiefs
AFC WestLos Angeles Chargers
AFC WestOakland Raiders
NFC NorthChicago Bears
NFC NorthDetroit Lions
NFC NorthGreen Bay Packers
NFC NorthMinnesota Vikings
AFC NorthBaltimore Ravens
AFC NorthCincinnati Bengals
AFC NorthCleveland Browns
AFC NorthPittsburgh Steelers
NFC SouthAtlanta Falcons
NFC SouthCarolina Panthers
NFC SouthNew Orleans Saints
NFC SouthTampa Bay Buccaneers
AFC SouthHouston Texans
AFC SouthIndianapolis Colts
AFC SouthJacksonville Jaguars
AFC SouthTennessee Titans

| Analyst

John joined the PFF team in 2008, providing focused analysis on the NFL draft, team-building strategies, and positional value.

  • junaka3

    With money JPP could get, we can probably sign both Hankins and Sheard! Let him walk. Let Robinson go, take Zach Cunningham in 1st round. Cut D Harris, sign Cordarrelle Patterson. Let Jerry and Newhouse go, sign Whitworth and Reiff or Wagner. Move Flowers to right guard. Take Bucky Hodges in 2nd round. Restructure DRC or release him if necessary.

    • Wallace

      “Whitworth AND Reiff or Wagner”

      Youre insane.

      That will never happen.

      • junaka3

        Snacks and Olivier? And Jenkins? Anything possible. All about priorities. Ways to create cap space

  • jeff s

    Keep JPP, Hankins and Robinson. Sign Okung and move Flowers to RT. Address TE, RB, WR and ROG in the draft.

    • Adam G

      I think this may be the pragmatic answer. Whitworth seems likely to re-sign in Cincy. Okung is a perfect stop gap. He’s what Beatty was supposed to be 2 years ago. And, there are some first round options for WR, TE, and ORG in 1-5. I’d look to go ORG in 1 or 2. Let’s go Reese. He’s been on fire in the draft lately.

    • crosseyedlemon

      If Flowers gets any worse he’ll be lucky to get a job cleaning the washrooms at the stadium.

      • Adam G

        He’s playing the hardest OL position and he’s going into his third year and is only 22 years old. He also barely has missed a snap despite playing with a high ankle sprain throughout his first season. He may have his struggles, but he’s a battler with the physical skills to be a pro lineman. He just needs to be given a better opportunity to flourish, ideally at the ORT spot.

        • crosseyedlemon

          First off I’m a fan of offensive linemen and I think they get a very raw deal with how the league is set up now. Before the salary cap era coaches had a 3-5 year window to develop these guys but now OL than are drafted in the first or second round are expected to hit the ground running and not miss a beat. This is probably a make or break year for Flowers. He doesn’t have to instantly become a star but he needs to get off that “worst performance of the week” list that became his home last season.

          • Adam G

            I agree he needs to show something. But, to say he’ll be a window washer at this rate completely dismisses the point you just made in this post. He needs some time and maybe a move to the right side will help him elevate his game and even improve him enough that a return to the OLT spot won’t be a crazy move like it seems it is now.

          • crosseyedlemon

            I guess the $64 dollar question is how much patience is the front office willing to extend.

          • Adam G

            At least two more years, I think.

  • crosseyedlemon

    The Giants enter the FA bidding war this season much less desperate than last year so I think Reese will take a more conservative approach. I really hope they resign Victor Cruz. He’s a class act and provides the quiet leadership every team needs.

    • Adam G

      Leadership so quiet, he didn’t say a word about how bad an idea an A lister trip to Miami was during the season until after the season was over.

  • James R. Howell

    Wow!! where to begin!! Whitworth is 34 yrs. old! Now a much better choice is G-Kevin Zeitler he is going to be 27 in March. With Richburgh, & Pugh, now we are talking about upgrading into the top 10 offensive line in the NFL!! OK? Unless, ok, an alternative if Zeitler is asking too much in the FA MARKET THEN PLZ! Let’s get LEARY!!! He helped open holes for rb zeke & WE CAN USE SOMEONE THAT WILL TAKE REVENGE AGAINST HIS OLD MATES TWICE NEXT YEAR!!!
    JPP I am nervous, how much juice is left from that fruit? i prefer to give Okwara more snaps as well as Odighizuwa! We can look for a an edge rusher in the draft!
    The D line, we all have a similar list DT-Kawann Short-Panthers would be my dream choice to play next to “Snacks!”