A breakdown of the first week of free agency for the New York Giants:
Most significant signing: The Giants struck early this year when they added wide receiver Brandon Marshall to the mix before free agency officially opened. Marshall was able to sign because he was cut by the Jets; his contract hadn’t expired. It’s a move the Giants are counting on to have an enormous impact on their offense, which struggled to score points last season. Marshall may not be a 1,500-yard receiver anymore at 33 years old and coming off a down year, but he brings valuable skills to the table. His size (6-foot-4, 230 pounds) and ability to use his body effectively makes him an ideal complement to Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard, especially in the red zone. Marshall had nine red zone touchdown catches in 2015. That should greatly benefit the Giants.
Most significant loss: There haven’t been many significant departures ... yet. But defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins and linebacker Keenan Robinson remain on the market and could eventually be the most notable defectors. As of now, the Giants’ biggest loss is offensive lineman Marshall Newhouse. Sure it’s not monumental (he’s best as a swing reserve tackle), but the veteran lineman was their best right tackle last season. There was a reason he suddenly emerged as the starting right tackle in Week 17 and in the playoffs. And it’s not as if the Giants have solidified the tackle position yet this offseason. It remains a trouble spot.
Player they should have signed: The offensive line remains a sticking point for the Giants with Ereck Flowers and Bobby Hart as the tackles. Veteran tackle Andrew Whitworth would’ve been an ideal target to solidify the line. Whitworth signed a three-year deal with the Rams worth around $11 million per season. His cap hit in the first year is slightly over $9 million. With the Giants short on available funds this offseason, the move likely would’ve come at the expense of Marshall. But solidifying the offensive tackle situation should have been the Giants’ No. 1 priority. It’s easier to find offensive weapons in free agency and the draft than a starting left tackle. Whitworth, even though he’s 35 years old, would’ve been ideal given his window is comparable to quarterback Eli Manning's. But the Giants never seriously entered the mix for any of the top offensive linemen. They elected to go elsewhere.
What’s next: The Giants are still out there shopping on the cheap. As of Wednesday morning, they had only $4.4 million remaining under the salary cap. But with some expected moves (J.T. Thomas, Dwayne Harris and others), they can create some necessary space. They’re looking for a veteran power running back to play alongside Paul Perkins, a nickel linebacker and possibly could still get Hankins back on the cheap. Also, don’t be surprised to see the Giants add to their cornerback depth, with the re-signing of veteran Coty Sensabaugh a possibility.
Overall grade: B-minus. The Marshall move will make the offense better. Fullback/tight end Rhett Ellison will improve the Giants' blocking at several positions. But their lack of substantial moves on the offensive line – D.J. Fluker and John Jerry don’t make them appreciably better – leaves you somewhat unfulfilled. Their situation at tackle remains a liability and the defense, as of right now, is worse off than it was last year without Hankins and Robinson. It’s almost as if the Giants ran in place, rather than improved. Of course, this is somewhat a product of being hamstrung by a lack of money in free agency after their spending spree last year.