clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Invictus Fixes the Giants, Part 3: Holiday Shopping

New, comments

In part three of Invictus' four-part series, he goes shopping in the free agency market. After Jerry Reese went bonkers last season, will he do it again?

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

I'll admit it. Part three of this series is always my favorite. As Giants fans, the years where we've had enough money to go shopping at the top of the market have been few and far in between. The Giants certainly did so last year, with over $62 million in cap space. They are in good position this year as well, as shown in Part two, we can manage to create almost $44 million in cap space this year.

The approach I'm going to take this year is not going to be what worked last year. I'm going focus on keeping our talent at home. There are some big decisions coming up on some of our best players. The Giants need to be a competitive team not just next year, but for the foreseeable future. So let's make sure we do just that.

Addressing Our Free Agents

Jason Pierre-Paul

He's the big fish. Jason Pierre-Paul performed exactly how we had hoped he would before a sports hernia ended his season prematurely. A freak that combines power with unnatural quickness, JPP has combined with Olivier Vernon to not only pressure the edge, but collapse it.

There are some young players behind him. Romeo Okwara, Owamagbe Odighizuwa, and Kerry Wynn, but they combined have less sacks (2) than Jason Pierre-Paul himself had in the game earlier this year against the Cleveland Browns (3). Not only that, but he's the emotional leader of the defense, routinely leading them in pre-game hype sessions. He is still in his prime and we need to ensure that he remains a New York Giant. I'm giving him a 4 year, $57,000,000 deal with $28 million guaranteed. 10 million of that will come as a signing bonus.

Year

Salary

Cap Number

2017

$15,000,000

$17,500,000

2018

$13,000,000

$15,500,000

2019

$10,000,000

$12,500,000

2020

$9,000,000

$11,500,000


That would make Jason Pierre-Paul the second highest paid 4-3 defensive end in the league behind, well, Olivier Vernon and it's the same deal that Robert Quinn got. I'm crazy, right? With this deal, he would make about $14,250,000 per year. That's nuts for someone with only 1.5 hands.

Well, there's a method behind the madness. I promise. For starters, when it comes to passrushers in 2017, JPP isn't just the top of the market, he IS the market. There are some big names, like Julius Pepper and Demarcus Ware, but when you are looking at a pass rusher that is in his prime, it's JPP and Chandler Jones and then everybody else. The only ones who come within the same stratosphere is Melvin Ingram and Nick Perry.

Then, while $14.25 million/yr looks like a lot of money, you look at who's coming in the next few years and its Khalil Mack, Ezekiel Ansah, Michael Bennett, Brandon Graham, Carlos Dunlap among others. That asking price is only going to go up. I destroy 40% of our cap space this year with JPP, but you look at who's on the horizon when it comes to re-signing...cough Odell Beckham Jr. cough...and you'll realize why I'm trying to front load.

Johnathan Hankins

You may call me crazy again, but I think Johnathan Hankins is a priority re-sign as well. The top of the DT market is simply Kawann Short and Hankins and that's it. In a division where the Dallas offensive line is ruling the day, it's the Giants' defensive line that needs to step up and claw their way against them.

Is it crazy that if re-signing Hankins means you have a defensive line with each of the four starters making top 10 money? Probably, but you do what you need to do to fight off your opponents. The Giants have made it a point to make their defensive line their strength and it's clear from this season that it is what is going to make this team succeed. You have to invest to be the best. Hankins gets a 5 year deal worth $41,000,000 and $19 million guaranteed. Again, $10,000,000 will come as a signing bonus.

Year

Salary

Cap Number

2017

$7,000,000

$9,000,000

2018

$8,000,000

$10,000,000

2019

$7,000,000

$9,000,000

2020

$7,000,000

$9,000,000

2021

$7,000,000

$9,000,000


That puts Big Hank as the 9th highest paid defensive tackle in the league, but his guaranteed money would be 5th. I think that's fair (remember, you ALWAYS overpay in free agency) for a player who has consistently been an asset against the pass and run. He falls just under Tyrone Crawford and over Linval Joseph. This locks in the current Giants defensive line for at least the next four years to scare offenses for years to come.

Keenan Robinson

What a revelation Robinson has been for the Giants. He has instantly been their best cover linebacker and has really stabilized what is otherwise a below average linebacker corps. He's fast, he hits hard, and he's a good tackler. Unfortunately, he's also pretty injury prone. Can't give him a long term deal, so he'll get a 2 year, $7,500,000 deal with $4 million guaranteed, all as a signing bonus.

Year

Salary

Cap Number

2017

$1,500,000

$3,500,000

2018

$2,000,000

$4,000,000


Extending One of Our Own

Justin Pugh

Sometimes, you just have to lock in one of your players before they hit free agency. There's a couple that are eligible, but for now, I just want to lock up one. It's none other that Justin Pugh. Probably the most important player on the offensive line, Pugh was approaching All-Pro caliber play at LG. Even more important than that is he can play RT in a pinch or even LT should Ereck Flowers continue to play like, well, Ereck Flowers. Therefore, it's important the Giants lock him up before he gets a huge offer in free agency. He's set to make a little over $8 million in 2017. Thanks to Kelechi Osemele's ludicrous deal worth almost $12 million/year, Pugh will need a big offer to accept. I think he'd be amiable to a 5 year, $43 million deal with $20 million guaranteed EXTENSION. Seeing a theme here? Pay your players. $12,000,000 as a signing bonus.

Year

Salary

Cap Number

2017

$8,821,000

$10,821,000

2018

$6,000,000

$8,000,000

2019

$7,000,000

$9,000,000

2020

$6,000,000

$8,000,000

2021

$6,000,000

$8,000,000

2022

$6,000,000

$8,000,000


That brings a total deal of six years, $51,821,000. That's an average of $8.63 million per year, which ranks fourth among all guards, behind Kyle Long, David DeCastro, and Kelechi Osemele. You have to pay for top talent. It stinks, but this locks in Justin Pugh for a LONG time through his prime years at a rate that is high enough to entice him, but will be low enough towards the tail end of the contract to end up being a bargain for what we believe will be a top end guard for the near future.

Going Shopping

I just took out the vast majority of our cap space with just three players. They happen to be three players that form the foundation of the team. There isn't much in the way of what we can do now in terms of infusing new talent, but we still have some money left. After all of those expenditures, we've got $11,744,686 left to go spend. Let's take a look at some targets.

Kevin Zeitler, OG Cincinnati Bengals

I know the problem (and especially after watching the recent Dallas Cowboys game) happens to be at the tackle position when it comes to pass protection. However, as you saw, the running game has gone absolutely nowhere for the Giants at all this season. When your guards are Marshall Newhouse and John Jerry, that will tend to happen. Time for an upgrade. An interior of Justin Pugh - Weston Richburg - Kevin Zeitler would be among the top in the nation. Zeitler isn't quite as good as Justin Pugh, but he certainly is the best player on that Bengals offensive line and will certainly cost us. He's only 26 and like Justin Pugh, going to get better. I'm going to give him a 5 year contract worth $32,500,000 with $14 million guaranteed. He gets a $5 million signing bonus.

Year

Salary

Cap Number

2017

$5,500,000

$6,500,000

2018

$7,000,000

$8,000,000

2019

$7,000,000

$8,000,000

2020

$7,000,000

$8,000,000

2021

$6,000,000

$7,000,000


The average $6.5 million/year puts him right around top 5 RG money (top 12 OG overall) and is almost exactly the contract that J.R. Sweezy got. You may want to upgrade the offensive tackle spot, especially the left tackle spot, and I agree with you. However, I have to ask....who replaces Flowers? You need to have a replacement that's worth throwing money at to replace what the Giants have invested in Flowers. You upgrade the run game by getting nastier inside and the protection will come. You look at who's available at guard this year: Larry Warford, Chance Warmack, Kevin Zeitler, Ronald Leary, TJ Lang. There are difference makers everywhere. Get one of them and start bullying people in the trenches. There's only one left tackle on the open market that would be a clear upgrade over Ereck Flowers (hard to believe, I know) and that's the 35 year old Andrew Whitworth. We don't need stopgaps, we need answers.

Brian Quick, WR Los Angeles Rams

Quick has had an underwhelming career, going over 500 yards this year for the first time in his career. Therefore, he's not going to get a big contract. He's got size and really good hands at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds. He's been shackled by a few injuries and by simply one of the worst offensive situations in the NFL. He's got upside to be a big target for Eli Manning as his third wide receiver. He'll at the very least compete for it with Roger Lewis.

There's no way he's getting big money, however. He'll have to compete for a bigger contract. Short term prove it deal should get it done. He'll get a 2 year, $6,500,000 contract with $3 million guaranteed and all of it as a signing bonus. That way, he's got to earn his money in year 2.

Year

Salary

Cap Number

2017

$1,500,000

$3,000,000

2018

$2,000,000

$3,500,000


Greg Zuerlein, K Los Angeles Rams

A kicker? A kicker?!? You're god darn right, a kicker. It's been apparent how constrictive the play calling has been because of Robbie Gould's weak leg. It's an adventure for every point after attempt, let alone a field goal. Add to that he doesn't have the power to be reliable over 50 yards and you've got a recipe for trouble. It's also a huge disadvantage for the Giants to continuously be short on kickoffs. In a league of inches - and indeed that was in full effect in the Cowboys game where a field goal attempt came half a yard short by Dan Bailey in a 10-7 game - every one counts. Offense, defense, and special teams. Greg "The Leg" Zuerlein has that moniker for a reason. He gets a 4 year, $7,500,000 deal with $4,000,000 guaranteed. $2 million in signing bonus.

Year

Salary

Cap Number

2017

$500,000

$1,000,000

2018

$2,000,000

$2,500,000

2019

$1,500,000

$2,000,000

2020

$1,500,000

$2,000,000


Well, that's it. We've got about $744,686 in cap space left for the year according to my calculations. That will of course change and will need to in order to make room for the new draft class. There's a lot of ways to do this. The Giants will likely cut a few more players than what I've shown in the last part. Only the top 51 count towards the salary cap. I think the Giants have their top players under contract for the forseeable future at contracts that are big enough now for the players to agree to, but will be bargains in the coming years. The Giants have upside at wide receiver, solidify the offensive line, and get a new kicker to boot. They re-sign their top pass rusher, their future at defensive tackle, and an overperforming linebacker while also extending a potential all-pro at guard.

We're not done making this team better, however. There's one part still left to do.

Next time: Invictus XI looks to the 2017 NFL draft to continue upgrading the Giants into what we can only hope will be a juggernaut for years to come.