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Giants Free Agency Analysis: Defense obviously free-agent priority for Giants

Where do things stand after the first two days of the "legal tampering" period?

Brandon Graham
Brandon Graham
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The first two days of the "legal tampering" period of 2015 NFL Free Agency were a whirlwind of activity, with much more actually getting done that might have been anticipated. Let's look at the news and summarize where things stand for the Giants entering Monday.

Devin McCourty staying in New England

The Giants "wanted McCourty badly," according to one report. Another said they "made a legitimate, strong push." In the end, McCourty did what everyone thought he would do all along -- went back to the defending champion Patriots. [Full story]

Where does that leave the Giants? They have reportedly checked in on Rahim Moore of the Denver Broncos, the best of the remaining safeties on the market. They also continue to be connected to Ron Parker of the Kansas City Chiefs.

The name we still have not heard? Antrel Rolle.

[Giants Free Agency Tracker]

Offensive line market is thinning

Somewhat surprisingly, the weekend went by without any reports that the Giants had been in contact with the top offensive linemen available in free agency.

Orlando Franklin was reported to be headed to the San Diego Chargers on Sunday. Franklin has reportedly confirmed that he will sign a five-year deal with the Chargers. Adam Schefter is reporting that deal to be worth $36.5 million, with $20 million guaranteed.

That is a ton of money. Remember that a year ago the Giants got Geoff Schwartz, a similar offensive lineman, for a four-year, $16.8 million deal with $5.7 million guaranteed.

Tackles Doug Free of the Dallas Cowboys and Derek Newton of the Houston Texans are going back to their respective teams.

That leaves Bryan Bulaga, Joe Barksdale and Jermey Parnell as the best tackles remaining, and Clint Boling and Mike Iupati as the top-tier guards still available.

It may also increase the likelihood that the Giants wait until the 2015 NFL Draft to address their need for a starting-caliber offensive lineman.

Ndamukong Suh to the Dolphins

We warned that Suh to the Giants was not a realistic option. Multiple reports over the weekend have Suh headed to the Miami Dolphins for five years and $114 million, with $60 million guaranteed. The Dolphins were said to be the only real bidders other than Suh's original team, the Detroit Lions. The Giants were never going to be able to play in that financial ballpark.

[Related: Dan Williams an option for Giants]

Defensive ends targeted by Giants

Early in the weekend the Giants were said to be prioritizing defensive ends in their free-agency search for players. By Sunday night, it appeared the name at the top of the Giants' list might be Brandon Graham of the Philadelphia Eagles.

The five-year veteran was a first-round pick in 2010, and has never really been a full-time player in Philadelphia. The Pro Football Focus grades we alluded to Sunday night and the remark from Pete Damilatis of PFF that "Words can't express how excited I am to see Brandon Graham in a full-time role," make you wonder why.

The Giants, of course, let Mathias Kiwanuka go recently. There are also injury concerns with Damontre Moore and Robert Ayers.

There is also the idea that Steve Spagnuolo is at his best as a defensive coordinator with a collection of pass rushers he can use in a variety of ways. Besides, having missed out on McCourty it might make sense for the Giants to turn their attention to beefing up the pass rush.

The Giants also reportedly showed some interest in Jerry Hughes and Adrian Clayborn, likely among others. Hughes will return to the Buffalo Bills for five years and more than $45 million, with 20 million in guarantees. By Sunday night, reports were that the Giants were not among the top suitors for Clayborn.

Running backs reportedly contacted by Giants

It figured that the Giants might use free agency to look for a veteran running back who could help them as a pass catcher. The big name among players who fit that role is Shane Vereen of the New England Patriots. Perhaps indicating, though, that the Giants don't want to play in the deep end of that pool the players the Giants have reportedly been in contact withare Roy Helu of the Washington Redskins and Antone Smith of the Atlanta Falcons.

Helu, 26, has 129 receptions in four seasons with the Redskins. He's averaged 4.4 yards per carry as well, including 5.4 yards in 2014. He doesn't really fit the "change-of-pace" role, but he is a quality receiver.

Smith, who turns 30 in September, is a five-year veteran who saw his first real playing time with Atlanta in 2014. He carries 23 times for 144 yards (6.3 per carry) and caught 13 passes, averaging 17.1 yards per catch. Significantly, he had five touchdowns in those 36 touches.

Prior to this season, he had only six career carries and two receptions.

The upcoming draft is also said to be deep at the running back position, perhaps why the Giants believe they should not have to spend significant money to add depth at that spot.

Final thoughts

It seems like if the Giants were going to play in the deep end of the financial pool it would have been for McCourty, and that would have made perfect sense.

In the end, though, this seems like it may shape up as a traditional Giants' free-agent period. Last year Jerry Reese and the Giants, desperately in need of a talent infusion, went on an uncharacteristic free-agent binge. That seems unlikely this time. With only $13 million in cap space, the Giants appear to be bargain-hunting. They appear to be looking for players who fit specific roles, are cost-effective and who, ideally, help them get younger.

That is typical of how they have usually approached free agency.