New York Giants' general manager Jerry Reese said recently that he thought the team might be able to get some of its priority free agents signed before those players are able to hit the open market when free agency begins on March 11. Which players might Reese be able to get to sign on the dotted line without testing their value on the open market?
Let's take a look. First, let's establish exactly which Giants can be free agents. The following free-agent lists are from Over The Cap.
Unrestricted Free Agents
Justin Tuck, Corey Webster, Jon Beason, Brandon Myers, Hakeem Nicks, Andre Brown, Stevie Brown, Linval Joseph, Shaun Rogers, Josh Brown, David Diehl (announced retirement), Kevin Boothe, Mike Patterson, Bear Pascoe, Brandon Jacobs (announced retirement), Keith Rivers, Louis Murphy, Aaron Ross, Ryan Mundy, Peyton Hillis, Terrell Thomas, Trumaine McBride, Curtis Painter.
Restricted Free Agents
That makes, according to the Over The Cap list, 23 unrestricted free agents and five restricted free agents. Remove the retirees (Diehl and Jacobs) and that makes 26 players the Giants have to make decisions on.
Who Might Sign Early
Stevie Brown -- The safety missed all of last season with a torn ACL.There have been indications that Brown and the Giants are talking about a deal, and that makes sense. First, Brown is a talented player. Second, he has no real leverage in the free-agent market after missing the 2013 season. Third, Will Hill always seems to find his way into some sort of trouble and Brown offers great protection in case that happens again.
Josh Brown -- The placekicker had an exceptional season for the Giants. There is really no reason for the Giants to look elsewhere, and you would hate to see Brown make the mistake Lawrence Tynes did a season ago and price himself out of a job.
Andre Brown -- Immediately after the season there was word the Giants were interested in bringing him back. That isn't a bad idea considering the fact that he has some ability and there are questions about David Wilson. Personal preference here, though, is that the Giants don't rush to sign him. There are going to be lots of quality backs available on the free-agent market, and if the Giants can find a reasonably-priced upgrade I'm all for that.
Justin Tuck -- This one seems unlikely, although the veteran defensive end has left that door open. It seems almost certain that Tuck will at least wait long enough to what the rest of the league thinks he is worth.
Jon Beason -- After being acquired in a trade from the Carolina Panthers Beason provided the Giants with the best middle linebacker play they have had since the days of Antonio Pierce. At season's end, NJ.com reported that "The Giants have already expressed an interest in keeping Beason and there is a strong likelihood he returns for 2014." I can't imagine Beason not returning to the Giants, the only question is price. Just a guess here, but I think the Giants would like to keep Beason off the open market.