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Giants trying to beef up defensive line

Saturday was the first day NFL teams were officially allowed to talk to the agents for free-agent players, and the New York Giants appear to be focusing on defense. The people to whom I've spoken over the past 24 hours have told me the Giants are very interested in adding to their pass rush even with defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul coming back on a $14.813 million franchise deal.

The Giants have expressed interest in Buffalo free-agent defensive end Jerry Hughes, who's drawing interest from several teams including the Bills, who'd like to keep him off the market. If Hughes doesn't re-sign with Buffalo by Tuesday, he's likely to make some free-agent visits, and the Giants have put their hand up as one of the teams interested in chatting with him.

Two other names I have heard connected with the Giants are Baltimore's Pernell McPhee and Philadelphia's Brandon Graham.

It's an interesting revelation, that the Giants might still be playing at the top end of the pass-rusher market, because as of a couple days ago it appeared their "big spend" would be at safety. They have expressed interest in New England's Devin McCourty, the top safety on the market, but they expect him to be tough to get. If his price stays around $8 million per year, the Patriots likely will pay that to retain him. If it sails up into the $9-10 million-per-year range, the Giants aren't sure he's worth that.

The Giants also are concerned the price for 25-year-old free-agent safety Rahim Moore will get higher than they believe he's worth, and to that end they reached out Saturday to the agent for Chiefs safety Ron Parker, a 27-year-old converted cornerback who started 15 games at safety for Kansas City in 2014. He'd be a lower-cost option at safety, but if the Giants miss out on the top safety targets, they could go cheaper at safety with a guy like Parker and maybe their own free agent, Stevie Brown, and spend their money up front on a big-time pass-rusher to start on the other side opposite Pierre-Paul.

Steve Spagnuolo, back this year for a second stint as Giants defensive coordinator, obviously believes in the pass rush as the foundation of the defense, which is why more emphasis this offseason could be placed on the defensive line. Spagnuolo would love to be able to fill all four defensive line spots with pass-rushers and run that famous "NASCAR" package he ran during the 2007 Super Bowl run. The Giants like Johnathan Hankins as a starting defensive tackle with some pass-rush ability, but it wouldn't be shocking to see them look at someone like Stephen Paea or even Terrance Knighton to help generate a better interior pass rush from the defensive tackle spot. They'd love to be in the Ndamukong Suh bidding, but like a lot of other teams they're concerned they won't ultimately be able to afford to be.

As for their own free agents, the Giants seem likely to bring back linebacker Mark Herzlich, tight end Daniel Fells and fullback Henry Hynoski. They have had some discussions with Brown but haven't made much progress there yet, though that could pick up in the next 48 hours. Antrel Rolle will only be back if he finds the market won't deliver what he wants in terms of price and he comes back to the Giants for their price, but that's not likely to happen. Linebacker Jacquian Williams and cornerback Walter Thurmond are likely to sign elsewhere.