Passing Judgment: New York Giants – Free Agency Update

Despite winning seven of their last ten games, the 2013 season was an unmitigated disaster for the New York Giants.  There was not one aspect of their team that performed at an above average level, and it became plainly obvious that the roster was filled with questionable talent and no depth whatsoever.  It did not help matters that Eli Manning turned the ball over at an historic pace, David Wilson had fumble-itis and then season-ending neck surgery, Hakeem Nicks didn’t catch a touchdown all year, the offensive line was injured and inconsistent, and the secondary could not cover anyone.  Needless to say, Jerry Reese had a lot of work to do to try and fix this roster.

Dominique Rodgers-CromartieThe Giants have already made a splash and revamped their roster tremendously since we last saw them on the field.  The biggest changes the Giants have made thus far has been to their secondary.  In a matter of days, the Giants have signed free agents Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Walter Thurmond and Quinton Demps while also re-signing Stevie Brown and Trumaine McBride.  These moves provide upgrades in both quality and depth at cornerback and safety which is something they desperately lacked last year.  Rodgers-Cromartie, a former 1st round pick, seemed to mature quite a bit in Denver, so the hope is that he can bring that attitude to the Giants and give them a shut down corner that they need.

The running back position was a carousel filled with nightmares in 2013.  The tone was set during the pre-season when Andre Brown broke his leg and would miss the first two and a half months of the year.  Then David Wilson fumbled away his opportunities and would end up suffering a season-ending neck injury.  It was painful to watch Peyton Hillis, Brandon Jacobs and Da’rel Scott try and run the ball behind a broken and inconsistent offensive line.  The Giants are hopeful that Wilson will be healthy and cured of his fumbling.  But they went out and signed a viable back-up in Rashad Jennings who had a great year with the Raiders after spending most of his career backing up Maurice Jones-Drew in Jacksonville.  Jennings is 29-years old but should still be productive in a back-up role.

It was also just announced that the Giants had signed kick return specialist Trindon Holliday to a one-year deal.  Despite having some fumble troubles himself, Holliday has been an explosive kick returner for the Broncos the past couple years and immediately provides an upgrade to a deficient aspect of the Giants’ special teams.  Field position often gets overlooked, but Holliday can be a difference-maker which is something Big Blue has been lacking since David Wilson was returning kicks during his rookie season.

Two of the biggest moves have gone somewhat under the radar.  The signing of former Chiefs offensive guard Geoff Schwartz was a great move to help stabilize the line.  They still need a center, but Schwartz should be a fixture and will help move everyone else down on the depth chart.  In addition, the Giants re-signed linebacker Jon Beason who came over from Carolina in a trade during the 2013 season.  The Giants seemed to have ignored the linebacker position for years, but Beason stepped in and assumed a leadership role that hadn’t been seen since the likes of Antonio Pierce and Michael Boley.  Beason is a very talented player who can really make a difference in stopping the run as indicated by his 93 tackles in only 12 games with New York last year.

It was imperative that Jerry Reese be aggressive in signing free agents and addressing the many needs that the Giants had.  There is still a lot of work to do including finding a wide receiver to replace Hakeem Nicks, as well as finding a tight end.  But there are still several free agents that are available and we are still weeks away from the NFL draft.  Reese has constructed two Super Bowl winning teams in six years, so he has built up enough credibility to be able to do it again.  So far, he is off to a good start.

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