The deadline for the first NFL-wide roster cutdowns has come and gone, and now every NFL roster is at 75 -- or fewer -- players.
Whenever a New York Giants coach or front office executive, usually Tom Coughlin and Jerry Reese, are asked whether they are considering a free agent as a possible upgrade to the roster, they answer with some variation of "We are always looking at everything to improve the team."
When asked after practice about competition at certain positions on the roster, Tom Coughlin had this to say: "People have to understand that.You're not competing just against the guys here, you're competing against the waiver wire."
On one that that absolutely confirms that there are still competition on the roster, but it also confirms that they Giants are looking outside their roster for potential upgrades.
The first round of cuts, when teams have to trim their rosters from 90 down to 75 players, seldom sees difference makers hit the waiver wire or become free agents. For the most part it is populated with young players who weren't quite good enough, or veterans who ran out of chances to step up on their existing team.
But occasionally, talented veterans or players worth a flier hit the waiver wire. These are the players that could wind up being valuable contributors for another team, and these are the players that the Giants could be looking at.
Tim Jennings (CB, Chicago) -- Jennings is a two-time probowl cornerback for the Chicago Bears. Jennings was released before the cut-down dedline and has yet to find a new home. He is a quick, but undersized, corner who has thrived in Lovie Smith's zone schemes. The 31-year-old corner had minor knee surgery in February, and teams will need to see if that played a factor in his release.
Phil Taylor (DT, Cleveland) -- In a surprise move, the Cleveland Browns parted ways with 2011 first round pick Phil Taylor. Taylor has had injury issues, and never quite lived up to his draft status. That being said Taylor was a very productive player against the run as a nose tackle for the Browns. Taylor is 6-foot-3, 335 pounds, with the long arms, and big hands the Giants love, as well as impressive athleticism for his size. Taylor might not offer much in the way of pass rushing, but his size and power would protect linebackers, and open up opportunities for other players.Taylor's release had more to do with his contract and the ascension of rookie Danny Shelton than any major fault.
Jonathan Dowling (FS, Oakland) -- Dowling is a talented rookie safety who was waived by Jack Del Rio for what are being termed "Maturity Issues". Reportedly, a string of small incidents built to the point where the coaching staff felt they had to move on. Dowling is a hard-hitting and rangy safety who got his start at the University of Florida before transferring to Western Kentucky following a similar string of incidents. The Giants are in need of young, high-upside safeties after the injuries to Mykkele Thompson, Bennett Jackson, Justin Currie, and Nat Berhe, and they could feel that their locker is a better environment than Oakland.
Ian Wild (S/ILB, Pittsburgh) -- Ian Wild is a player who already has some professional experience in the CFL with the Winnepeg Blue Bombers. Wild has the size reminsicent of Landon Collins and Cooper Taylor at 6-1, 220 pounds. He also has experience playing both safety and inside linebacker. He was a standout in Steelers' camp, and the speculation was that since he wasn't going to beat out either the other safeties or inside linebackers, the Steelers let him go in the first round of cuts to increase his chances of landing with another team
Brandon Fields (P, Miami) -- Tom Coughlin said that the competition for Steve Weatherford would not end, even if he was the only punter on the roster. Fields is a Pro Bowl punter who specializes in hang-time and dropping the ball inside the 20-yard line. The ever-popular Weatherford has struggled with directional punting since playing through a devastating ankle injury suffered in the first week of the 2014 season. The Dolphins' decision to part ways with Field was a financial one, as the undrafted rookie who replaces him is set to earn roughly one third as much as the Pro Bowler.