Giants free-agency primer: Brandon Marshall signs, what now?

Believe it or not, free agency didn't technically start. This was the "legal tampering" period, but the New York Giants actually signed a street free agent.

Wide receiver Brandon Marshall signed a two-year, $12 million deal on Wednesday. The reason that the Giants were able to sign him was because his contract didn't expire. He was released by the Jets late last week.

Marshall won't be the only player the Giants sign. They have gaping holes in their lineup that need to be filled. The goal is to cover their bases in free agency, so they're not pigeon-holed come the draft. It will be an active few days.

Salary-cap space (approximate pre-Marshall signing): $13 million

Potential cost-cutting moves: LB J.T. Thomas ($4M salary), WR Dwayne Harris ($3.8M vs. salary cap), RB Shane Vereen ($4.9M vs. salary cap), re-signing DE Jason Pierre-Paul (costs $17M in 2017 on franchise tag)

Positions of need (in order):

1. Offensive tackle

2. Defensive tackle

3. Nickel linebacker

4. Guard

5. Blocking tight end

6. Cornerback depth

Rumored interest: TEs Martellus Bennett, Jared Cook and Anthony Fasano; DTs Brandon Williams and Terrell McClain, OT Russell Okung

Giants unrestricted free agents: DT Johnathan Hankins, LB Keenan Robinson, TE Larry Donnell, G John Jerry, OL Marshall Newhouse, DB Leon Hall, LB Mark Herzlich, QB Ryan Nassib, CB Trevin Wade, CB Coty Sensabaugh, LB Kelvin Sheppard, RB Bobby Rainey, K Robbie Gould, OL Will Beatty, QB Josh Johnson

Hankins remains a priority for the Giants. They want to keep their defense together. That could prove unrealistic if there is an offer (hello, Cleveland?) for the 24-year-old defensive tackle that is too rich for their budget.

If the Giants don't re-sign Hankins it opens the door to add a big-ticket item at another position. It could be at tight end. That is a position they have monitored closely throughout this process. Or it could be for an offensive lineman or to fill the hole that Hankins left behind.

If not tight end, offensive line or defensive tackle, that deal could potentially be for a running back. The Giants currently have only two running backs on their roster (Paul Perkins and Vereen) with any real playing experience, although Orleans Darkwa could return.

Players with a strong chance to return next season also include Robinson at linebacker and Jerry at guard.

Giants restricted free agents:

RB Orleans Darkwa: The Giants chose not to tender Darkwa after he missed the second half of the season with a leg injury. There still remains a chance he returns.

DE Kerry Wynn: He was given the low-level tender. That keeps him with the Giants on a one-year deal worth $1.797 million.

Exclusive rights free agents:

Re-signed: TE Will Tye, TE Matt LaCosse, DT Robert Thomas

Not re-signed: FB Nikita Whitlock, WR Ben Edwards