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Fixing the New York Giants, Part III: Money to Burn

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This is the third piece of a four-part series in which Invictus XI takes over as the GM of the New York Giants to help build a stronger team for the 2015 season. Part III takes a look at what pieces the Giants will be looking to add to their roster through free agency.

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Welcome back to our four part series as I, Invictus XI, take you through my thoughts on how best to fix our beloved New York Giants. We had some difficult decisions to make in the last part as we parted ways with some old friends.

Time to cheer up, however, because it's time to make new friends. Let's first take care of our own. Firstly, the restricted and exclusive rights free agents are:

Dallas Reynolds, Larry Donnell, Mike Harris, Adam Gettis, Chandler Fenner.

Now that's pretty easy, all are retained with minimum deals that do not affect cap space, as only the top 51 contracts will count towards the cap. That means, we still get all of those players but still start off with our cap space of $28,253,187.

Now, let's take a look at the unrestricted free agents:

Free Agents

Antrel Rolle, Jason Pierre-Paul, Walter Thurmond, Stevie Brown, Spencer Paysinger, Henry Hynoski, Quintin Demps, Mark Herzlich, Adam Snyder, Zack Bowman, Mike Patterson, John Jerry, Kevin Ogletree, Daniel Fells, Chris Ogbonnaya, Jerrel Jernigan, James Brewer, Chykie Brown, Jacquian Williams.

Whew! That's a lot. I'm going to go ahead and simplify this simply because you don't want to read a novel here. I'm going to give small deals to a multitude of players here. They aren't big signings because they are only role players/spot starters for the team but I believe are important. I won't analyze it too much, so just presenting it in the table below.

Player

Years

Total Contract Value

Cap per year

Jacquian Williams

2

$2,500,000

$1,250,000

Mark Herzlich

2

$1,800,000

$900,000

Spencer Paysinger

2

$1,800,000

$900,000

Henry Hynoski

3

$5,000,000

$1,666,667

Daniel Fells

1

$950,000

$950,000

Zack Bowman

1

$950,000

$950,000

John Jerry

1

$950,000

$950,000

Outside of Jacquian Williams and Henry Hynoski, the rest of these players will be making veteran minimums and won't count towards the 51-man cap. I think Williams, based on his skill set, is a valuable rotational player that probably could be used better by another defensive coordinator. I don't see him getting much interest in the open market, however. Hynoski gets a nice deal for being a top-tier fullback in a league that doesn't really use them anymore.

This might seem like some are underpaid, but I think this will be a depressed free agent market like it was last year. The rest of the free agents, I'm not interested in re-signing except for three VERY important players we're going to talk about next.

The Big Fish

Jason Pierre-Paul

Let me be clear. I want to bring Jason Pierre-Paul back. I want him back, however, at a price that isn't absurd. Pierre-Paul has double digit sacks for only the second time in his career. He's not the world's best pass rusher. That being said, I still do contend that he's an average to a slightly above average pass rusher in this league. Adding to that, he's the best run defending defensive end in the league.

There's a place for that. He was not helped by just staying at RDE for most of the year. Perry Fewell finally moved him around the last few games this season. As a natural build for an LDE, I thought he could be truly dominant opposite a pure pass rusher at RDE. His value only increases when considering that he's scheme versatile. I can't think of a more perfect 3-4 DE conversion prospect as well. He's also only 25 years old.

Looking at top DE contracts, I'm not paying JPP Mario Williams or Robert Quinn money. I do think he's worth somewhere between Trent Cole and Junior Galette money, however. He'll suffer from a depressed market, I believe. Cliff Avril re-signed with the Seahawks for only about $7 million/year. JPP is more valuable, but that's still low. I'm giving him a five-year deal worth $56 million. Most of these contracts give out about 40-50 percent of the contract guaranteed. I'm giving him about 46 percent, so make that around $26.5 million guaranteed with a $10 million signing bonus. I've made the determination that he's a franchise level defensive end, and now I've locked him up as one. Here's the breakdown:

Year

Salary

Cap Number

2015

$5,500,000

$7,500,000

2016

$10,500,000

$12,500,000

2017

$13,000,000

$15,000,000

2018

$12,500,000

$14,500,000

2019

$14,500,000

$16,500,000

Before you scream at me for those scary looking numbers, hear me out. The reason for the higher cap number given the salary is due to his prorated signing bonus. The plan is to take away more of the guaranteed money during the first three years, with only a little left in the fourth year. I don't plan on keeping him around in 2019, so that number here is moot. He's getting paid impressively in his prime, but I think he's going to live up to it.

Walter Thurmond

It will be a priority for me to get Walter Thurmond III locked up. He is one of the game's elite slot corners and for our secondary, that's a priority. He was lost very early on to a torn pectoral injury. Somewhat luckily, that type of injury has no recurring side effects that can hamper production, so he should be in tip top shape for the season. However, since he did lose a full season due to injury, his price definitely drops. On top of that, it might make him more willing to take on a longer term contract as he could possibly value safety and guaranteed money more than looking for a big pay day. He's not getting Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie money ($7 million/year). I do think he will look for something around Sean Smith or Brandon Browner money, which is in the $5 to $5.5 million range and I believe that's fair. I'd be willing to give him a four-year, $20.5 million contract with $11.5 million guaranteed. A $6 million dollar signing bonus seems about right. Would be a fair deal for both sides.

Year

Salary

Cap Number

2015

$2,500,000

$4,000,000

2016

$5,000,000

$6,500,000

2017

$5,500,000

$7,000,000

2018

$7,500,000

$9,000,000

Once again, we're back loading his contract in anticipation of the salary cap shooting up. This should be fair enough for both sides, and once again, we'll re-evaluate where he stands in 2018. The Giants get an elite slot corner for the foreseeable future, however, and should be a fixture on the defense for years along with Prince Amukamara and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

Antrel Rolle

I saved Rolle for last because I think he's by far the most difficult to handle. I do want him back, yet it's clear that his original price tag will not be acceptable. I'm not going to low ball him with a dirt poor offer, but he's not touching $7 million. I'm actually surprised that he survived to see the full amount of his then record-breaking original contract with the Giants.

I think the Giants should look at Malcolm Jenkins' new contract with the Eagles ($5.1667 million per year) and approach Rolle with the argument that Jenkins outplayed him this year. I think I'd come close, but come in at around $4 million per year. I won't go past three years, which he certainly wouldn't be happy with, but I'd counter with more guaranteed money.

The problem is that I don't think he'd be willing to take that. If he does, I take him back, no questions asked. However, if he doesn't, he doesn't, and the Giants have to be willing to allow a combination of Cooper Taylor and Nat Berhe (or a draft pick) to pick up the slack. It's going to be tough off-season for Giants leadership as Jon Beason and Antrel Rolle are now both gone.

Alright, so before we go on towards exploring new free agents, let's have a recap: We signed Walter Thurmond and Jason Pierre-Paul to big deals, let Antrel Rolle go in free agency, and brought back a slew of contributors. Where does this put us in terms of usable cap space?

Cap Space (before own FA)

$28,253,187

Cap Space (now available)

$14,836,520

Attacking Free Agency

Even after landing Pierre-Paul and Thurmond, the Giants have over $14 million to play with. There are a few players that I have had my eyes on for quite some time now, and I think that if we attack free agency with a plan in mind, we could come out as real winners. There's one player that I'm hoping is not franchise tagged who could take this team over the top.

Devin McCourty, Free Safety, New England Patriots

My top target on the market. One of the elite safeties in the league, so of course, he'll come at a hefty price tag. The Giants have the money, though, to make it work. Safeties are not as highly paid as tackles or as edge rushers, so while he will be expensive, he won't be priced out of our range. He's young, athletic, not injury prone, and plays at a high level. The draft is always risky when it comes to safeties. We'll, of course, back load the deal somewhat to relieve the pressure right now. The biggest deal came with Jairus Byrd's $9 million per year deal. I don't think that McCourty will command that much, however it will be close. I would target, instead, Eric Weddle's deal with San Diego at $8 million annually and to entice him, go up on the guaranteed money. I'd offer a 6 year, $50 million deal with $25 million guaranteed (that's more than Byrd) and a $12 million signing bonus. Big moves.

Year

Salary

Cap Number

2015

$4,000,000

$6,000,000

2016

$6,000,000

$8,000,000

2017

$11,000,000

$13,000,000

2018

$10,000,000

$12,000,000

2019

$10,000,000

$12,000,000

2020

$9,000,000

$11,000,000

Now, there's also a plethora of defensive tackles on the market. That will depress the market quite a bit, and one will likely be available for cheap. The guy I'm looking at is a bit of a risk, but I think could be a smart and aggressive signing. That is ...

Nick Fairley, Defensive Tackle, Detroit Lions

Fairley's 2015 option was not picked up by the Detroit Lions. For what reason, I'm not sure, but they seem set to lose both the three technique as well as Ndamukong Suh to free agency. Fairley has struggled with weight problems in his career at Detroit and he has not played in the last half of this past season due to a knee sprain. That will all devalue his asking price.

Of course, Detroit is not really known for being a disciplined team and there are several examples everywhere of players just needing a new place to be in order to thrive. Fairley would slot right next to Johnathan Hankins as the starting three technique, with Jay Bromley and Cullen Jenkins as players in the rotation. There is no denying his talent, and he's received very strong Pro Football Focus grades in every year that he's been in the league. That would certainly be quite fearsome and shore up another worrying spot for the Giants. I'm looking at the deal that Sen'derrick Marks received from the Jacksonville Jaguars ($4.5 million per year) as a marker for my deal with Fairley. So let's look at three years, $13,000,000 with $7 million guaranteed and a $3 million signing bonus.

Year

Salary

Cap Number

2015

$2,500,000

$3,500,000

2016

$5,000,000

$6,000,000

2017

$5,500,000

$6,500,000

Note, I definitely did entertain the idea of grabbing Ndamukong Suh in free agency. He would've likely commanded close to $15-16 million a year. In that much room, I grabbed Jason Pierre-Paul and Nick Fairley instead. Neither are on the level of Suh, but both together, I believe, are a stronger force than Suh would be alone.

There isn't much more room left, but there's still a few more moves that I'd like to make. The first move is a tackle. Never hurts to add some depth to your offensive line.

Jeremy Parnell, Offensive Tackle, Dallas Cowboys

Yes, I want to poach an offensive lineman from the hated Cowboys. He is a backup for the Cowboys behind Tyron Smith and Doug Free, however, when he's gotten into games, he's been impressive. At 6-foot-6, 315 pounds, he is athletic for a big man and can move and would provide legitimate depth for the Giants should a tackle go down. If he does well enough, he could even push Pugh over to left guard (though I'd stay tuned if I were you to our next segment for reasons for why that won't likely be the case!).

He won't be terribly expensive, and along with J.D. Walton, John Jerry, and Brandon Mosley, will provide quality depth. Hopefully whatever injury deity we have angered has composed themselves by then. I think a three-year deal worth $8 million with $3 million guaranteed should be fair. He should get a $900,000 signing bonus.

Year

Salary

Cap Number

2015

$1,000,000

$1,300,000

2016

$3,000,000

$3,300,000

2017

$4,000,000

$4,300,000

My final move, now is one that the 'Beezer Brigade' has been yearning for. We're signing a linebacker!

Bruce Carter, Weakside Linebacker, Dallas Cowboys

Carter is a little bit of a risk. He's been somewhat injury prone, he's been benched, and he's been inconsistent. However, there's no doubt that he's got talent, and he's flashed it at times. I'm going to try and take the Martellus Bennett route with this Cowboy.

Dallas has very little room to manuever, and it's got some big free agents that they need to re-sign, namely Dez Bryant, Demarco Murray, Rolando McClain, and Doug Free. They won't have the room to get Bruce Carter back. Like with Nick Fairley, I'm banking on a new team bringing out the best in him. I'm not investing a lot, however, so if it doesn't work out, we'll still be okay. A two year, $4,000,000 deal should work, and we'll even give him a cool million just to sign. That should be enough for him to be pried away from Valley Ranch.

Year

Salary

Cap Number

2015

$1,500,000

$2,000,000

2016

$2,500,000

$3,000,000

That's basically it! Let's take a look at our cap space now:

Cap Space (before FA moves)

$14,836,520

Cap Space (now available)

$2,036,520

We've still got slightly more than $2 million available. I'm going to keep that as "emergency money." You just know there will be injuries and there needs to be a rainy day fund available. I'm also going to consider this going towards the draft day fund. I know that draft signees need close to $4 million in space, but with some minor restructures, the Giants can get under that very, very easily, so I'm not going to worry about that right now.

Finally, this $2 million should also undoubtedly go towards any mistakes I might have made in terms of appropriate calculations and what not. The last time I took a math class was high school calculus almost 10 years ago. In any case, it can be used other vet minimum free agents and what not to fill out the roster, I wanted to essentially go over the impact free agents that we could nail.

So that's what I did with the money. What would you do with almost $28 million, guys? There's a billion ways to go about it, so let's hear it!

Next time: In our final installment, we've got this small little thing called a draft to take care of. Stay tuned!