As the first day of free agency approaches, much of the attention will be focused on some of the bigger stars looking for new homes in the off-season. From wide receivers like Allen Robinson and Kenny Golladay, to pass rushers like Shaquil Barrett and Bud Dupree, the free agent market is rich in talent with players that would immediately improve the New York Giants.
However, in order to attract a big-time free agent, it takes big-time cap space, something that the New York Giants don’t quite have. New York currently has just under $1 million in cap space as of March 1, per OverTheCap, and will likely look to do some maneuvering in order to re-sign players like Leonard Williams and Dalvin Tomlinson.
Due to money being tight, the Giants may not be able to make some of the blockbuster moves that fans have been calling for. In spite of this, New York can still bring in a couple of under-the-radar signings to fill holes and make an impact on the team next season.
New York Giants: Five Possible Under the Radar Free Agent Signings
Tim Patrick // Wide Receiver
Wide receiver Tim Patrick certainly has the stature of a dominant, big-bodied receiver that can climb the ladder and win jump ball situations. The 6-foot-4-inch pass-catcher excels in stretching the field and putting stress on the defense in deep ball scenarios.
Undrafted in 2017, Patrick signed with the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent, had a brief stint with the San Francisco 49ers shortly thereafter, and eventually found a home with the Denver Broncos where he has played three seasons. The 2020 campaign was the best of Patrick’s career, as he posted career highs across the board including 51 receptions, 742 yards, and 6 touchdowns while catching 64.6% of his targets.
Patrick averaged 14.5 yards per reception and 9.4 yards per target last season, ranking him 20th and 25th among eligible receivers, respectively. If the Giants are looking for a discounted deep threat with ball skills, Patrick may very well be one of the playmakers they look to bring in this off-season. Of course, Patrick is a restricted free agent, so they’ll need Denver to choose to let him go.
Daryl Williams // Right Tackle
Daryl Williams is a former pick of current Giants General Manager, Dave Gettleman, so the connection between organization and player already exists. Williams is a versatile offensive lineman that has experience all over the line but has spent most of his time in the NFL at tackle.
Williams was drafted in the fourth round in 2015 and spent the first five years of his career with the Carolina Panthers. He signed a one-year deal with the Buffalo Bills last season and started 16 games protecting MVP candidate Josh Allen.
Considering Cameron Fleming, who started 16 games at right tackle for the Giants last season, is a free agent, someone may have to be brought in to compete with Matt Peart for the tackle position opposite of Andrew Thomas. Williams, who allowed just three sacks on 1,050 snaps last season, could be that guy.
Per Spotrac, Williams’ market value is calculated to be $7.8 million per year. Depending on what the Giants do in the rest of free agency, adding a tackle of Williams’ caliber to protect Daniel Jones could be crucial in the development of the young signal-caller. Williams may fit the bill as one of the under-the-radar signings for New York this offseason.
Xavier Rhodes // Cornerback
Coming off a disappointing 2019 season with the Minnesota Vikings, veteran cornerback Xavier Rhodes signed a one-year deal with the Indianapolis Colts and had a bounce-back season. He raised his PFF grade from 46.4 in 2019, to 76.3 in 2020, almost a thirty-point improvement.
Rhodes would offer New York another option for the boundary cornerback position opposite of James Bradberry. Players currently on the roster battling for that starting spot include Isaac Yiadom, Julian Love, and Sam Beal, but adding Rhodes would at the very least add more competition and depth.
Similar to Williams, Spotrac’s market value for Rhodes is calculated to be in the $7 million range, specifically $7.3 million. If the Giants can bring in Rhodes on a short term deal, it could propel an already great defense in the league’s elite.
Takkarist McKinley // Pass Rusher
Takkarist McKinley has had a turbulent past year in the NFL. A former first round pick in 2017, the talent is certainly there, but relations with the Atlanta Falcons soured last season and he was eventually waived. After failing a couple of physicals with the Cincinnati Bengals and 49ers, he ended up with the Las Vegas Raiders but did not see the field.
Through 49 career games and 25 career starts, McKinley has 17.5 sacks and 22 tackles for loss. The numbers aren’t eye-popping, but the raw talent that got him picked in the first round could still exist within him.
There are few teams more equipped than the Giants to pull talent out of defensive players. A number of players on each level of the defense last season had career years under the coaching of Patrick Graham and company, and it could happen again if New York takes a chance on a talent like McKinley. The pass rusher has a calculated market value of $8.4 million per season as noted by Spotrac, but considering the issues that arose last year, that number may be lower.
Rashard Higgins // Wide Receiver
Wide receiver Rashard Higgins is coming off his best statistical year in the NFL and is only 26 years old. He is a former fifth round pick in 2016 out of Colorado State, and has been solid throughout his career with the Cleveland Browns.
The 2020 season saw Higgins catch 37 balls for 599 yards and four touchdowns, all while coming down with 71.2% of his targets. Higgins’ skillset is similar to Patrick’s in the sense that he is a big play waiting to happen.
The 6-foot-1-inch receiver averaged 16.2 yards per reception in 2020, ranking him eighth in the league in the category. As for yards per target, Higgins ranked second in the league at 11.5, narrowly behind Will Fuller who sat atop the rankings with 11.7. Higgins’ market value is lower than anyone else’s on this list, as Spotrac calculated it to be $6.1 million annually. Taking into account all of the hoops the Giants must jump through just to retain some of their own free agents, signing a home run threat like Higgins on a team-friendly deal may be one of the under the radar signings the Giants commit to this off-season.
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