The 2012 NFL Free Agency madness already began for the New York Giants Tuesday morning when they re-signed cornerback Terrell Thomas, keeping him from hitting the open market. The Giants also got a little salary cap relief when it was announced that David Baas has agreed to re-structure his contract.
What else will the Giants do? Well, they are not far under the $120.6 million cap which would seem to preclude any splashy moves. Besides, we know that isn't the defending Super Bowl champions' style, anyway. Their priority, as with Thomas, is likely to be choosing which of their remaining free agents will be re-signed.
We have already heard news that popular defensive end Dave Tollefson and reserve safety Derrick Martin won't return. The Giants are also expected to lose wide receiver Mario Manning during free agency. They also have interesting choices to make about linebackers Jonathan Goff and Chase Blackburn, among other players.
At this point, the Giants would also seem unlikely to try and bring back cornerback Aaron Ross. With Thomas back and Prince Amukamara entering his second season there would seem to be no place for Ross.
Let's look in the crystal ball at area where the Giants might look for free-agent help.
Running Back -- Brandon Jacobs is gone. Ahmad Bradshaw's feet and ankles are on borrowed time. DJ Ware is not the answer. Da'Rel Scott is untested. Thus, it would not be a shocker if the Giants look for help here. Potential Target: Mike Tolbert, San Diego Chargers. Tolbert is a 5-foot-9, 243-pound power back whose skill set would seem to be a perfect replacement for Jacobs. Besides, he has already endeared himself to Giants fans by bashing the New York Jets.
Tight End -- We know the drill here. Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum are hurt -- and, really, is Beckum any good, anyway? The Giants are connected to Stanford tight end Coby Fleener by many draft experts, but let's see if they take care of this need before the draft. Potential Targets: Kevin Boss, Oakland Raiders; John Carlson, Seattle Seahawks; Jacob Tamme, Indianapolis Colts. Basically, any living, breathing tight end not named Jeremy Shockey is probably a possibility.
Linebacker -- If the Giants don't re-sign Goff or Blackburn, will they look to free agency for a middle linebacker? Potential Target: Stephen Tulloch, Detroit Lions. He is probably too expensive, but it's nice to dream.
Offensive Line -- Kareem McKenzie is gone and the Giants have decisions to make on the line. They could opt to sign veteran depth, they could opt to make a play for a new starting right tackle. They could do nothing. Potential Target: Eric Winston, Houston Texans. Like Tulloch, probably too expensive.
Giants' Free Agency Overview
Free agency period: March 13, 4 p.m. ET - July 22 (the first scheduled day of NFL training camps)
Salary cap: $120,600,000 per team
Exclusive Rights Free Agents (2):
TE Jake Ballard - Signed one-year contract TE Bear Pascoe
Restricted Free Agents (1):
CB Bruce Johnson - Signed one-year contract
Unrestricted Free Agents (21)
QB David Carr
WR Michael Clayton
WR Domenik Hixon - re-signed with Giants
WR Devin Thomas
OT Kareem McKenzie
OT Tony Ugoh
DE Dave Tollefson -- reportedly unlikely to be re-signed
LB Chase Blackburn
LB Jonathan Goff
CB Michael Coe
CB Aaron Ross
CB Terrell Thomas - signed with Giants Tuesday morning
CB Justin Tryon
S Derrick Martin - reportedly unlikely to be re-signed P Steve Weatherford - franchise tagged for approximately $2.5 million