Giants working to keep Boothe, Bennett?

The New York Giants cleared about $5 million in cap space with Thursday's roster moves, leaving them about $9 million under the cap. Part of the reason may be that they're trying to get some of their own free agents signed before the free-agency negotiating period opens. (And in truth, it opens tomorrow, though teams can't actually sign free agents until Tuesday.)

Ralph Vacchiano reports that the Giants "hope to re-sign guard Kevin Boothe and tight end Martellus Bennett before the market opens, though deals do not appear imminent."

The way that sentence is structured makes me wonder whether the Giants are working seriously in pursuit of deals with Boothe and Bennett or simply "hoping" those players will sign before the market opens at the prices the team has in mind for them. My hunch is the latter, and that Boothe is the more likely of the two to sign. But the clearing of cap room Thursday by restructuring David Baas' contract and getting Corey Webster to agree to a pay cut makes you think they're making room for some specific stuff, and new deals for Boothe and Bennett could be that stuff.

If they don't re-sign Boothe, they could play David Diehl at guard and find a right tackle on the market. Or they could sign a guard. If they don't re-sign Bennett, they'll surely be in the market for a veteran tight end, though recent history shows they won't feel compelled to play at the high end of that market. They brought Bennett in last year on the cheap because they thought (correctly) he would help as a run-blocker. But he's only 26, and the five touchdown passes he caught from Eli Manning might help him sell himself on the open market as more than just a blocker. If that's the case, the Giants probably look elsewhere.

Nothing much in Ralph's story, by the way, on safety Kenny Phillips. As we have discussed here many times, I think Phillips is an important player for the Giants and that they shouldn't let him hit the open market without a fight. But the fact that we haven't heard anything about a potential new deal for Phillips makes me think the Giants are convinced his knee is bad and they've decided to move on with other options. ESPN's Josina Anderson reported Thursday that the Giants are one of the teams that has expressed interest in veteran safety Charles Woodson.