This article was provided by the fine folks of G-Men HQ.
Over the past several off-seasons, the Giants have typically used free agency to strategically plug holes.
In 2009, they signed Chris Canty and Rocky Bernard to replace the oft-injured Fred Robbins; and Michael Boley to fill the void left after Kawika Mitchell left following the 07′ season.
In 2010, after disastrous secondary play during the 09′ season, the Giants signed Safeties Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant to fill vacancies at the safety position.
In 2011, C David Baas joined the team to replace Shaun O’Hara, and in 2012 they signed Martellus Bennett after Jake Ballard was claimed off waivers by the Patriots. If you can recognize the pattern here, it is clear that the Giants have used free agency as a means to plug major holes in areas where they do not believe a replacement was already on the roster.
If there are replacements on the roster, they are not likely to pursue that position (ala Victor Cruz and Jake Balllard in 11′ after Steve Smith and Kevin Boss left, respectively.)
While the Giants have not necessarily always had the greatest cap situation, they have always been able to make the necessary adjustments to their overall cap number in order to make a splash in the off-season. However, this year will be especially challenging. The Giants began the off-season close to $9 million over the cap, and while they have been able to make room by cutting veterans such as LB Michael Boley, DT Chris Canty, and RB Ahmad Bradshaw, and restructuring the contract of LB/DE Mathias Kiwanuka, they still have very little wiggle room under the cap and gaping holes along the offensive and defensive lines, at tight end, and at the linebacker position. They have wisely used some of there cap savings to re-sign OT Will Beatty to a 5 year $37.5 million dollar extension on February 27th, but at this point they barely have enough money to tender there restricted free agents, let alone re-sign their remaining unrestricted free agents (G Kevin Boothe, S Kenny Phillips, DE Osi Umenyiora, TE Martellus Bennett).
The good news for Giants fans is that Jerry Reese has always made smart moves that were in the best interest of the team long-term. He understands the holes on this roster, and is sober in analyzing the team’s cap situation. Fortunately, there is the possibility of continued savings by cutting or restructuring veterans such as David Diehl, Corey Webster, and Antrel Rolle. I expect the Giants to remain low this off-season and wait out the market for potential bargains along the offensive line and at the tight end position.