Like every off-season for any NFL team, the New York Giants will be looking to make additions with free agents. Whatever Big Blue does not address in free agency, they will take to the draft board in April.
Clearing cap space will be an essential task for the Giants this off-season if they are looking to make any important signings. Here are five free agents the Giants should target in March.
Five Free Agents the New York Giants Should Target in Free Agency
Allen Robinson (Wide Receiver, Chicago Bears)
When Daniel Jones endured his slumps during the 2020 season, many saw the need for a playmaker. The draft is full of playmakers at wide receiver, most notably in the first round. However, before that, the Giants should look at Allen Robinson.
Despite catching passes from sub-par quarterbacks in Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles, Robinson recorded 1,000 yard plus seasons in the last two seasons. Blake Bortles can also be added to the list of below-average quarterbacks that Robinson caught passes from in his career.
It is evident that for Daniel Jones to succeed, he will need help from a reliable playmaker. Many saw the jump that Josh Allen has taken with the addition of wide receiver Stefon Diggs in the 2020 off-season. Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton are nice compliments to a playmaker, but will never exceed expectations to be the top playmakers on the Giants’ offense.
Kenny Golladay is another solid option for the Giants in free agency. However, he missed 11 games in 2020 and will command top dollar from interested teams.
Andy Dalton (Quarterback, Dallas Cowboys)
Andy Dalton fared well in 2020 after filling in for Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback Dak Prescott in nine games. Dalton tossed 14 touchdowns to go along with eight interceptions for 2,170 yards. He went 4-5 as the Cowboys’ quarterback.
The Giants have to get concerned about Daniel Jones at this point. For the past two seasons, he has missed two starts due to injury. Big Blue got lucky and still had Eli Manning in 2019. However, in 2020, Colt McCoy started the two games Jones missed. Though McCoy did win one, the gameplan relied on the running game and stopping Russell Wilson.
With all due respect to McCoy, with a winning expectation in 2021, the Giants need a backup quarterback who is reliable and can still win them games, if Jones is injured. Dalton only missed one game due to injury in 2020.
After a sophomore slump, the veteran quarterback can help mentor Jones to assure that his turnover numbers are down and that he is more than a game manager.
Shaquil Barrett (Outside Linebacker, Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Though the Giants’ defense finished in the Top 15 in rankings, they still need help rushing the passer on a consistent basis. Sure, Leonard Williams accumulated a career-high 11.5 sacks, but many don’t know if the Giants have the cap space to bring Williams back. It is also tougher to get pressure from the interior defensive line than on the edge.
Enter Shaq Barrett. Over the past two seasons in Todd Bowles‘ 3-4 scheme, Barrett has flourished like never before. He racked up a career-high six forced fumbles, 19.5 sacks, and 51 pressures in 2019. Though his numbers dropped slightly, he still was an important key on the Bucs’ defense, recording two forced fumbles, eight sacks, and 41 pressures.
Barrett is a cheaper option than other rushers like Yannick Ngakoue, Von Miller, and Bud Dupree. Sure the linebacker room is filled with young and unproven talent like Carter Coughlin, Lorenzo Carter, Oshane Ximines, and Cam Brown. But adding a rusher of Barrett’s caliber will ease the pressure off of the young secondary.
Michael Davis (Cornerback, Los Angeles Chargers)
Julian Love provided solid play in the season finale against the Dallas Cowboys, covering Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. However, ensuring secondary depth is not the worst idea for the New York Giants.
The Giants repeatedly moved back and forth from Ryan Lewis, Corey Ballentine, and Isaac Yiadom at the second cornerback position. The situation did not get any easier when Pro-Bowler James Bradberry went to the COVID-19 List in Week 15. In the game against the Cleveland Browns, Patrick Graham showed his lack of trust in cornerbacks.
Michael Davis is a young solid option for the Giants at the second cornerback spot. Adding Davis will stabilize the secondary so that Graham will not have to rely on journeymen cornerbacks to fill voids in desperate times.
Davis led the Chargers in pass deflections (14) and interceptions (3). In the last two seasons, Davis has allowed under a 65 percent completion percentage in coverage, to go along with only allowing three touchdowns each season.
The cornerback lineup of Bradberry, Davis, Love, and Darnay Holmes looks more appetizing than the 2020 group of defensive backs.
Austin Blythe (Guard/Center, Los Angeles Rams)
The New York Giants may opt to cut veteran guard Kevin Zeitler to free up $12M in cap space. Oregon product Shane Lemieux is still going through struggles as an up-and-coming guard in the NFL. Will Hernandez may be done as a starting guard for the New York Giants.
Unless the Giants want to draft another guard, like Deonte Brown, in the middle rounds of April’s draft, they will have to patch the position as best as possible.
Austin Blythe is a solid option for the Giants as a versatile guard who can also play center in times of need. Blythe has played well for the Rams in 2020 as well as 2018. After a successful 2018 season, Blythe and the entire Rams’ offensive severely regressed. Blythe allowed 38 pressures, the second most among centers that season, as well as a pair of sacks.
In 2020, the offensive line made stunning improvements compared to the year prior. With Austin Corbett sliding into the right guard spot, Blythe transitioned to center. Blythe ranked ninth among 37 qualifying centers, according to Pro Football Focus.
Blythe is expected to be one of the cheaper options among free agents, compared to veterans like Joe Thuney and Brandon Scherff. If the Giants wish to sign a pricy veteran guard, they might as well keep Zeitler as the starting right guard.