Big Blue View contributor Alex suggested "which current free agent would you sign to the Giants?" as a round table question for the staff this week. I like it, perhaps it gets us away from talking index fingers and the franchise tag for a while, so the responses are below.
A quick note: Spotrac shows the Giants with $4.891 million to spend under the cap. Now, here are the responses.
I'm gonna go with Pierre Thomas. The running back group is well rounded, but needs some insurance in case of injury. Rashad Jennings missed some time last year, Andre Williams is promising but unproven and Shane Vereen is more of a change-of-pace gadget-back. Thomas would be a good addition and ultimately complete the rotation for the Giants as he's better than Orleans Darkwa or any of the undrafted rookies the team picked up.
This team is regularly riddled with injuries and having some fresh, yet experienced, legs for late in the year could prove fruitful. Given his veteran status and the soft running back market, Thomas would be amazing value. He showed a lot last season in New Orleans. I think there's plenty of juice left in the tank.
"Can I cheat? Yeah, I'm going to cheat.
The Giants have just south of 5 million dollars (Dr. Evil pinkie) in cap space going into the 2015 season. They're going to want to keep a healthy chunk of change under their mattress for the eventual rainy day. But, I'm going to make a pair of signings to (maybe) bolster the defensive front.
The first is a vet minimum flier on Da'Quan Bowers. This is the football equivilant of a scratch-off, plain and simple. On the downside, Bowers has dealt with nagging knee injuries and a torn Achilles in the spring of 2012. But, he is still young (turned 25 in February), and had tremendous upside.
I'd bring him in to camp and let him compete with Kuhn and Kerry Wynn and see what he has left. It might not amount to anything, but if you can get anything like his play in 2010 (66 tackles, 26 tackles for a loss, 15.5 sacks), this is a tremendous steal.
My other signing is to bring back Barry Cofield. Partly its because I want to see the "Don't Tase Me Bro!" sack dance again. But also, Cullen Jenkins has trended downwards since the last quarter of the 2013 season. Cofield is younger and can back up John Hankins as a "2-way" defensive tackle who can occupy double teams while also getting pressure on the passer. Cofield also has the advantage of already knowing Spags (and his defensive philosophy). While we don't know what a healthy Jenkins could be this year, it's not impossible that Barry Cofield would be an upgrade over him or Kuhn."
My vote would be Evan Mathis. OL still seems to be our biggest question mark heading into the season, and Mathis provides a swing guard skill set and veteran leadership. He has been a top guard in the league the last three years according to PFF, and he clearly isn't a fan of Chip Kelly and the Eagles. What sweet justice it would be to head to a divisional rival and get the opportunity to punish Philly twice a year. Mathis and Schwartz would provide stability to the guard position, and greatly improve our run blocking ability. This would also allow Pugh another chance to prove that he can be a starting tackle in this league. Mathis is only 33, and I believe he'd be a great signing for us heading into training camp.
Since Chris cheated, so can I. After all, who's in charge around here, anyway?
For me, answering this question is a process of elimination. I think Alex is well-meaning in choosing Pierre Thomas, but wrong. Running back is not a place to spend money. I believe Chris may also have a good idea in beefing up the defensive line, but I don't think either of the players he mentions does so. Bowers has done nothing and would get in the way fo the young players the Giants have, and Cofield's health status is a concern after offseason hip surgery.
The Giants could use a veteran safety or a veteran corner for depth, but right now there aren't any appealing options on the market. Perhaps at the end of the preseason when teams set their 53-man rosters someone useful will shake free, but not right now.
That leaves the offensive line. There are a few options here, and if the Giants are going to spend money before the season starts this is where I believe it should be spent.
Veteran guards Evan Mathis and Rob Sims are still available, as are veteran tackles Jake Long and Anthony Collins. All come with questions, which is why thy are on the market.
Sims, 31, is a nine-year veteran. He played decently for the Detroit Lions a year ago, but doesn't appear to have much time left. Long is a former Pro Bowler, but it still unknown if his twice-torn ACL will even allow him to continue his career. Collins was a good player for the Cincinnati Bengals at left tackle in 2013, but a disaster for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a year ago. Which player is he?
That leaves Mathis. He is 33, but played some of his best football the past couple of seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, at least juding by Pro Footbal focus scores. An NFL exec recently said "he's just a guy at this point.".
I certainly would not spend all of my cap money on Mathis, and I don't honestly see the Giants making this move, but Mathis might make the most sense.