We have been profiling potential free-agent targets for the New York Giants for several weeks now. We have already touched on more than 30 players, but there are many more who could be on the team's radar. Let's touch on some of those today, with the "legal tampering window" beginning on Saturday at noon ET.
Brandon Graham, DE, Philadelphia Eagles
We talked about the possibility that Trent Cole, recently released by the Eagles, could be useful to the Giants. What about Graham, the much-younger Eagles' defensive end/outside linebacker. Graham has 17 sacks in 64 games over five seasons since being a first-round pick by the Eagles in 2010. Here is Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer on Graham:
Graham is the Eagles' other top free agent. The former first-round pick progressed last season in the Eagles' 3-4 defense. He turns 27 next month, so he is still in the prime of his career. And because Cole was released, more playing time is available for Graham after he took only 43 percent of the defensive snaps last season.
But Graham could be in demand by teams who run a 4-3 defensive front, which he is better suited to play. The five-year, $42.5 million contract with $20 million guaranteed that Minnesota's Everson Griffen received last offseason could be used as a template with Graham.
Pro Football Focus calls Graham "one of the most underrated players in the NFL since entering the league as a first-round pick in 2010."
Jabaal Sheard, DE, Cleveland Browns
Let's face it, with Mathias Kiwanuka released and uncertainty about the health of Robert Ayers and Damontre Moore the Giants could use reinforcements at defensive end. Sheard is an under-the-radar player whose name keeps popping up when you scour the Internet for players who could draw interest from the Giants.
Who is he? Sheard is a four-year veteran who turns 26 in May. Sheard, 6-foot-2, 264 pounds, was a second-round pick by Cleveland in 2011. He spent his first two seasons as a 4-3 defensive end, compiling 15.5 sacks. In the 3-4 defense the Browns have used the past two seasons he has been less effective, compiling only 7.5.
He has the speed and power to cause disruption inside and out, topping seven sacks in two of his four campaigns with the Browns. He also won over the locker room last season by playing through a nasty foot injury. If Cleveland doesn't re-sign him, opponents will come calling on a defender who shouldn't cost a bundle.
Pro Football Focus lists Sheard No. 36 on its list of free agents, and makes his story sound similar to that of Kiwanuka when he was a Giant:
It's never been easy for him in Cleveland, with constant position switches and competition that you've felt the team is more invested in seeing succeed. Sheard is strong against the run and has demonstrated an ability to get pressure.
Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Atlanta Falcons
We have talked about several free-agent running backs who could fill a role as a pass-catching, open-field threat for the Giants. Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams are fine backs, but neither is a home run threat or real weapon as a pass catcher. The 5-foot-7, 190-pound Rodgers has 155 receptions in four seasons.
Here is Dave Choate of The Falcoholic on Rodgers:
"For a guy who might only be 5-foot-7, Rodgers is a surprisingly capable blocker. He also has excellent hands. What he's not is a particularly fluid runner, usually averaging under 4 yards a carry and not possessing any kind of breakaway speed. He is a strong dude capable of bulling past defenders, though.
"Ideally, Rodgers is a situational back who can throw a good block or make a key third down catch for you."
Rodgers is just 25 years old.
Brooks Reed, LB, Houston Texans
Reed, 28, has never been the player some thought he might become when the Texans drafted him in the second round (42nd overall) in 2011. Question is, did the Texans ever actually figure out how to properly use the 6-foot-3, 255-pounder. Here's Conor Orr of NFL.com:
...projected in the Clay Matthews mold. Brooks Reed might very well still be that player, and because he's not looked at among the top-tier of free agents, he could come at a friendly price. Reed only had 8.5 sacks over his last 40 starts, but there's no doubt a team could figure out a way to use that combination of size and speed for good, even if they need to shift him inside and use him as a run-stuffer.
SB Nation's Battle Red Blog also seemed to indicate that the Texans could never quite figure out what they had with Reed.
There was a report earlier Saturday that the Giants are among the teams interested in Reed.
Ron Parker, S, Kansas City Chiefs
A former undrafted free agent out of Newberry College (yes, Corey Washington's Newberry College) Parker was little more than a reserve cornerback and special teams player for Kansas City until this season, getting only one start in three years. In 2014, however, Parker started 15 games -- four at corner and 11 at free safety. That is a type of versatility that could make him attractive to the Giants, and other teams.
The Kansas City Star believes that Parker "should probably be a full-time safety" and expects him to seek $6 million or more annually. Which the Star does not expect him to get.
SB Nation's Arrowhead Pride had this to say about Parker:
What he did for the Chiefs in 2014 was help eliminate the big plays that were such a problem in 2013. He did a nice job at safety in that regard, which was probably the biggest improvement in the Chiefs defense last season.