The New York Giants ended their offseason program on June 15. Here’s a look at how they fared:
Offseason goals/grade: The offense struggled to score points last season. Only six teams (all without a proven franchise quarterback) scored fewer than their 19.4 points per game. So the Giants went into this offseason looking for fixes on offense while trying to keep their defense together. They significantly upgraded their weapons by adding wide receiver Brandon Marshall in free agency and tight end Evan Engram in the draft. They improved their blocking -- even if they failed to address the offensive line -- by adding tight end Rhett Ellison and Marshall. They even upgraded at running back by cutting Rashad Jennings and elevating Paul Perkins into a starting role. No excuses now. They should be a better offense this season. On defense, the Giants bring back nine of 11 starters. Their only significant loss was defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins -- whom they tried to keep -- but they drafted his replacement, Dalvin Tomlinson, in the second round. Grade: B
Move I liked: Re-signing Jason Pierre-Paul. There seems to be mixed views on his deal, given the amount of money ($40 million guaranteed) for a player with an injury history and just one double-digit sack season in the past five years. For one, our own Bill Barnwell was not a fan. But while Pierre-Paul may not be a great pass-rusher, he is a good one. And those are hard to find. Pierre-Paul teamed with Olivier Vernon gives the Giants one of the best defensive end and pass-rushing duos in the league. That’s invaluable, especially without a serious interior pass-rushing threat on the roster. The Giants survived for a while without Pierre-Paul late last year, but it showed in the playoffs when Aaron Rodgers had all day to throw. Re-signing Pierre-Paul was a move the Giants had to make in order for their defense to not experience a drop-off. Instead, bringing almost everyone back should make them better and possibly even a special unit.
Move I didn’t like: It’s easy to say in retrospect after the Giants went on to select Engram in the first round, but given the choice between an offensive tackle or Marshall, I would’ve gone tackle. Quarterback Eli Manning and the Giants need at least one proven tackle. It’s not that Marshall isn’t a good player who at 33 years old will still help them. He is. Watching him run past Pro Bowl cornerback Janoris Jenkins deep down the sideline during OTAs validated to me that there is still something left in his tank. He will be a factor in 2017, especially in the red zone. It’s just that wide receiver is an easier spot to fill than left tackle, and the Giants ended up adding a weapon and red-zone target with Engram in the draft. Sure, veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth (who signed with the Rams) cost twice the money, but the Giants could’ve made it work if they were so inclined -- just at the expense of Marshall. That would’ve been my preference.
Biggest question still to be answered in training camp: Oh, it always seems to be that offensive line. The Giants return the same starting offensive line that did not play well last year. They couldn’t run the ball (29th in the NFL) and allowed relentless pressure off the edges. Their only additions this offseason were 2013 Chargers first-round pick D.J. Fluker and their own sixth-round pick this year, Adam Bisnowaty. Ereck Flowers and Bobby Hart are still projected to start at left and right tackle, respectively. The Giants have done their best to sell a leaner and improved Flowers this offseason, but even they acknowledge that nobody will know if their tackles won’t be a problem again until we see them playing at full speed in pads this summer.
Salary-cap space: $8,118,600 (source: Overthecap.com)
Undrafted rookie free agents signed: OT Chad Wheeler, OL Jessamen Dunker, TE Colin Thompson, WR Travis Rudolph, CB Nigel Tribune, S Jadar Johnson, DT/OL Jarron Jones, LB Calvin Munson, FB Shane Smith, DE Josh Banks, DE Evan Schwan, WR Keeon Johnson, CB DeShaun Amos
Unrestricted free agents signed: WR Brandon Marshall, TE Rhett Ellison, OL D.J. Fluker, CB Valentino Blake, RB Shaun Draughn, DE Devin Taylor, DT Corbin Bryant, S Duke Ihenacho, LB Keenan Robinson, LB Mark Herzlich, QB Josh Johnson
Restricted free agents signed: DE Kerry Wynn
Players acquired via trade: None