The New York Giants suffered through one of the worst seasons in franchise history with a 3-13 campaign in 2017.
Injuries and uninspired coaching decimated the Giants in 2017. With a new general manager and coaching staff in place, the Giants are hoping to quickly erase the memory of a season that saw them set a franchise record for losses.
One of the first things the Giants will do in the coming weeks is deciding what to do with their free agents.
Unrestricted Free Agents
Linebacker Akeem Ayers—Ayers filled in when injuries rocked the linebacking corps. He probably will not return to the Giants.
Safety Nat Berhe—Berhe spent most of 2017 as a contributor on special teams as he was buried behind Landon Collins on the depth chart. Given his concussion history (he missed 10 games due to two concussions in 2016), Berhe will probably not be back in spite of his reputation as a hard-hitting safety.
Defensive tackle Jay Bromley—Bromley, a 2014 third-round pick, never established himself despite being a high draft pick. This isn’t to say that Bromley is a bust. He was a solid part of the defensive tackle rotation. However, Bromley may want to see if there is a team that will provide him the opportunity (and money) to be a starter.
Linebacker Jonathan Casillas—The defensive captain played in only eight games last season. He’s only played in 16 games once in his career, in 2016. Casillas turns 31 on June 3. He said he wants to return to the Giants but the Giants have to determine how much Casillas has left in the tank.
Cornerback Ross Cockrell—Cockrell was added after the preseason and turned into a solid contributor. He had 37 tackles (25 solo), 11 passes defended, and a team-high three interceptions. Cockrell is a young productive corner who could provide the Giants depth…assuming, of course, they can agree on a deal.
Running back Orleans Darkwa—Darkwa had the best season of his career in 2017. He carried the ball 171 times for 751 yards and five touchdowns, averaging 4.4 yards per carry. Darkwa’s five rushing touchdowns in 2017 equaled the number of rushing touchdowns he scored in his first three NFL seasons combined. He also had career highs in receptions (19) and receiving yards (116).
Offensive lineman D.J. Fluker—Fluker was one of the Giants’ most consistent o-linemen in a season where the team used 10 different starting offensive linemen combinations. He signed a one year, $3 million deal. It’s safe to say he will command more than that on the open market.
Offensive lineman John Greco—Greco was brought in as the injuries mounted on the offensive line. The Giants probably will not bring him back.
Linebacker Mark Herzlich—Herzlich has only played 14 games in the past two seasons, missing all of 2017 after suffering an injury in the preseason. He wants to return to the Giants, the only team he’s played for in his NFL career, but it seems unlikely.
Linebacker Devon Kennard—Kennard has started 35 of a possible 52 games since being drafted by the Giants in 2014. The arrival of new defensive coordinator James Bettcher means that the Giants will switch to a 3-4 defense. That increases the likelihood of the team bringing Kennard back.
Wide receiver Tavarres King—King spent most of the last two seasons on the practice squad but made his way to the active roster because of injuries. He tied for the team lead with three touchdown receptions in 2017 despite only playing in eight games with three starts. King showed he can provide depth to the receiving corps.
Cornerback Darryl Morris—Morris was a late-season addition. He will more than likely not return to the team.
Offensive lineman Justin Pugh—Pugh is the best player among the Giants’ free agents and most expensive to retain. He missed the last eight games of 2017 but said he wants to return to the Giants. At the same time, Pugh is will have many suitors on the free agent market.
Offensive lineman Weston Richburg—Richburg has been a solid part of the o-line. Like Pugh, Richburg missed significant time last season (12 games). He also said he wants to remain with the Giants but will also be a sought-after commodity in free agency. In addition, the performance of Brett Jones could make Richburg expendable.
Linebacker Keenan Robinson—Robinson missed 10 games in 2017. Like Casillas, Robinson has only played an entire 16-game season once (2016). His injury history will likely prevent the Giants from investing in him long term.
Quarterback Geno Smith—Smith looked to resurrect his career as Eli Manning’s backup. He didn’t exactly set the world on fire in his one regular season start. The Giants have Davis Webb on the roster and could bring in another quarterback with the No. 2 pick in April’s NFL Draft. A crowded quarterback room will leave Smith as the odd man out.
Running back Shane Vereen—Vereen’s performance has fallen off as he’s been reduced to a third-down back in passing situations. He turns 29 on Mar. 2 and entering his eighth NFL season. Vereen’s pass catching ability out of the backfield will make him attractive to other teams but he may have played his final game for the Giants.
Defensive end Kerry Wynn—Wynn joined the Giants as a 2014 undrafted free agent out of Richmond. He has been able to carve a niche for himself with his run-stuffing ability. Wynn started in 10 of his 49 games for the Giants.
Restricted Free Agents
Offensive lineman Brett Jones—Jones produced for the Giants last season after Weston Richburg was injured. His $2 million price tag in 2018 makes him a most cost-effective option than Richburg without as much wear and tear.
Linebacker Deontae Skinner—Skinner only played in three games last season. The Giants are unlikely to bring him back.
Exclusive Rights Free Agents (These players have two years or less of experience. The Giants have to decide to make a one-year tender for the minimum salary. These players are not allowed to negotiate with other teams once the tender is applied. If no tender is applied or if the tender is rescinded, these players will become unrestricted free agents.)
Linebacker Curtis Grant—Grant was a key special teams contributor before tearing his ACL in the Thanksgiving night loss to the Washington Redskins. Whether he is brought back or not depends on how fast he recovers.
Offensive lineman Jon Halapio—Halapio was a late-season addition. He proved that he could be depended upon when his number was called. He will probably return to the Giants.
Defensive tackle Robert Thomas—Thomas’ play hasn’t been particularly noteworthy but has something working in his favor: he was on the Carolina Panthers’ practice squad in 2016 and knows general manager Dave Gettleman.