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Giants 2017 Free Agency Primer

The Giants enter 2017 Free Agency with ~$30MM of cap space, depending on where the NFL actually sets the cap. On Monday, February 20th, I got an email from our Draft Analyst Wonder on which NFL veterans the Giants should be looking at this offseason. Here is the list:

OFFENSIVE LINE
G Kevin Zeitler 26 CIN
RT Ricky Wagner 27 BAL
G Ron Leary 27 DAL
G Larry Warford 25 DET
RT Menelik Watson 28 OAK (lesser cheaper FA but ok)
C J.C. Tretter 26 GB (lesser cheaper FA but ok)

LINEBACKER
ILB Lawrence Timmons 30 PIT
OLB Nick Perry 26 GB
OLB Melvin Ingram 27 LAC (STUD, but medical check a must)
OLB Chandler Jones 26 AZ (but will be going back to AZ)
ILB Zach Brown 27 BUF
LB Kevin Minter 26 AZ (bit lesser player but ok)

Wonder’s general point is that the Giants should focus on these two units. I agree. While TE and FS are still needs, the Giants are probably counting on their younger players like TE Jerrell Adams, S Andrew Adams, & S Darian Thompson (oft-injured Berhe?) plus the Draft to get them to the 2017 regular season w/o anymore assistance. I am ok with that IF they can make a big impact at OL. (I have learned over the years not to bother holding one’s breath for meaningful help at Linebacker.)

Today, Ed Valentine of Big Blue View tweeted an article where he cited a very good piece written by Michael Lombardi. Lombardi discusses the Four Rules of NFL Free Agency. Note how he mentions drafting inside out, not outside in. Our analyst discusses this often, pointing out how a player can be really good for a particular type of system. One of Wonder’s greatest calls was noting how high he was on TE Jimmy Graham, SPECIFICALLY NOTING how this pass catching End could be a great weapon for the Saints: Rank 45th Overall. 3 Solid Starter Projection. “Basketball player. SKY HIGH ON HIM. 6’5″ 260. Looks lean, so he can add weight. Fast, hands, a steal in R3, Grand theft in R4! Off the charts potential! Saints should take him last pick of R2.”  That is the example of how you draft inside-out. If Reese took him in Round 2, it would unfortunately be overpaying and a waste, since Gilbride underutilized his TE in his schemes.

That picture leading out the headline of this article is that of Detroit G Larry Warford. Both Lombardi and our analyst Wonder cite this name as a solid pickup for the Gmen. (My apologies to Wonder for bringing this to print 3 days after Lombardi and 6 days after Wonder threw this list to me.)

Separately, I will weigh in on a topic we have tweeted about in the past couple of weeks: JPP and Hankins. The quick take here is that JPP has had 7 NFL seasons, with numerous injuries. Back, sports hernia, fingers. Some belittle the significance of these impacts, but as Lombardi notes, his best work is behind him, not in front of him. IF he can put a full season together, he generates some impact, but not enough for how much someone will overpay him for his past. At 28, he is an older 28. I simply want to spend the money elsewhere.

Speaking of elsewhere, I’d rather spend the money on Johnathan Hankins. Here is why. He is 24 years old. That alone is a very good reason. I need to state that again. He is 24 years old. (I feel better now.) Defensive linemen are put through a Cuisinart meat grinder called the NFL. If you are able to survive your first 2-3 years as a boy becoming a man, you have another 3-4 years as a man before injuries and the meat grinder spit you out to the curb. Hankins may have 5 years in him as a man because of his age. So he is a valuable asset right now. He is hitting his prime and it is all ahead of him. This is the opposite of JPP. Because the Giants/Reese are serially negligent at LBer, they need a solid DL to stop the run. Detractors argue that the Giants cannot spend the $ on both him and Harrison. My response is, that without an ability to provide LBers, how can they afford not to? Hankins’ numbers went down last year because Harrison’s acquisition forced Hankins to move from a 1-technique to a 3-technique.. his numbers dropped as a result. If someone wants to overpay for Hankins, I will begrudgingly accept that fate, but I will not be happy about it. Why? Because I will not understand an organization that is drafting these players at DL in Round 2 and then not protecting them once they hit their prime. It is a bleeping waste to do that. If you commit the resources to DL with the Linval Josephs and Johnathan Hankins of the world, watch them become good, and then let them leave, WHY ARE YOU PICKING THEM THIS HIGH? Why Marvin Austin? Why Jay Bromley? Why? When they are good they walk? When they are not good, they walk? What is the draft plan then for DL, ever? Keep Hankins. He makes Harrison better. He is going to keep developing and has not peaked. His prime is here. This is how the Giants control the Defensive Line of Scrimmage and win games.