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Twitter mailbag: Free-agency thoughts

Behold! The answers to your #nygmail-hashtagged questions in the weekly exercise we like to call... The New York Giants Twitter mailbag.


@DanGrazianoESPN: Well, as a Bills fan, you'll be happy to learn that Marcell Dareus is not a free agent, since the Bills picked up the 2015 contract option on their 2011 first-round pick last spring. But pass-rusher Jerry Hughes and running back C.J. Spiller are free agents, and both are interesting names for the Giants. Hughes is among the top pass-rushers available on the free-agent market, assuming Buffalo lets him hit that market, along with the Giants' Jason Pierre-Paul. I wouldn't expect the Giants to try to sign both of those players, as they'd be over-committing financially at one position to do it, so my guess would be Hughes is a high-end option who would only be on their radar if they decided to let Pierre-Paul leave. As for Spiller, he interests me a lot. I wrote last week about one of the ways in which the Giants plan to upgrade their run game -- namely, by signing offensive linemen who can upgrade their run-blocking. But I also expect them to pursue a change-of-pace running back to fill the role they had planned for David Wilson last season, and Spiller's speed and elusiveness put him in that category along with players such as New England's Shane Vereen and Atlanta's Antone Smith and Jacquizz Rodgers. Depending on what the market will bear -- and I highly doubt anyone's going to be paying Spiller feature-back money -- he could land on the Giants' radar for sure.


@DanGrazianoESPN: They will definitely make an effort to sign Pierre-Paul long-term. And if they can't get that done, they may well use the franchise player designation on him to hold him in place for one year at around $15 millon. Otherwise ... uh ... I don't know. Antrel Rolle, if he'll cut them a deal (which I kind of think he won't)? Stevie Brown and Mike Patterson if they're still cheap? Jacquian Williams if his concussion symptoms are cleared up? Mark Herzlich is part of the furniture, and I'd guess he returns. But the Giants' didn't have the kind of defensive season that makes you scream, "Bring everybody back!!!" The most interesting one to me is Walter Thurmond, as I wonder what his price is going to turn out to be after he signed a one-year, prove-it deal and went down with a season-ending injury in Week 2. I know they like him, but it's possible the injury has changed their mind on whether he's their nickel corner of the future.


@DanGrazianoESPN: I would think it's safety, because whatever you or I may think of Will Beatty and Justin Pugh as starting NFL tackles, they have proven they can be that. Yes, I think the Giants can upgrade at both of those spots, but if they have to go with Beatty and Pugh as their starting tackles, they believe they can get the job done. But right now, the only two safeties on the roster are 2013 fifth-round pick Cooper Taylor and 2014 fifth-round pick Nat Berhe. It'd be a huge bonus if even one of those guys played his way into a starting role in 2015, and to expect both of them to do it would be folly. (And even if they did, they'll need at least one backup, right?) In the recent past, the Giants used a first-round pick on Kenny Phillips and signed Rolle to a five-year, free-agent deal, so we know they have a history of using major resources on safety. I believe they have a crying need at that position, whether they bring back Rolle or not, and I expect them to be big-game hunters when it comes to safety this offseason.


@DanGrazianoESPN: The Giants' problems on the offensive line are the result of years of neglect. They ignored the line at the top of the draft for more than a decade before taking Pugh in the first round two years ago. And adding Geoff Schwartz as a free agent and Weston Richburg as a second-round pick last year didn't solve the underlying problem, which is that they have failed to draft and develop offensive line talent for years now. Beatty is being paid as a franchise left tackle but doesn't always perform like one. He was a second-round pick. But mid-rounders such as James Brewer never developed, the pipeline got dry, and they've spent the past couple of years trying to play catch-up. Unless you commit significant high-end resources to the line (as the Cowboys have, taking a lineman in the first round in three of the past four years) or develop one and let it mesh together for a period of time, you can't expect consistently dominant production there. The great Giants line of Diehl/Snee/O'Hara/Seubert/McKenzie carried them for a long time, but once those guys got old, the Giants did a rotten job of re-stocking their positions, and they are obviously paying the price.

Thanks for all of your questions. Enjoy the Super Bowl. We'll be back next week.