clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2016 NFL free agency: Five players who could help the Giants

John Mara narrowed down the Giants' remaining free agency needs to offensive line, wide receiver, cornerback. Let's look for a few available players at those positions who might be targets.

Could Anquan Boldin be a fit for the Giants?
Could Anquan Boldin be a fit for the Giants?
Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants' co- owner John Mara said Sunday at the NFL owners meetings that the team is not done shopping in free agency.

"There are still some players we’re looking at, obviously at a lower level in terms of compensation," Mara said in advance of this week’s NFL owners meetings. "But I still think we have some holes to fill. I think we’d like to have another offensive lineman somewhere down the line, another corner, another receiver. There are still players we’re looking at. We may have to wait until the draft if [the right players] aren’t there in free agency."

Let's look at available free agents at those positions who might be able to help the Giants.

WR Anquan Boldin

When free agency began we looked at five wide receivers who might help the Giants. Boldin is the only one remaining on the market. Here is what we wrote about him then:

I would not normally advocate signing a 35-year-old wide receiver in free agency, but Boldin is different. His game has never been about speed. At 6-foot-1, 218 pounds his game has always been about strength, about his great hands and about being a guy a quarterback could trust. And Boldin is still clearly very good. He had 69 catches for the quarterback-challenged San Francisco 49ers last season. In 13 seasons, Boldin has never caught fewer than 56 passes in a year. I have always thought of Boldin as the kind of short-area receiver Eli Manning could thrive with. A guy who can make tough catches in traffic, who can do what Hakeem Nicks used to be able to do for Manning. Obviously, Boldin would not be a long-term answer. He would, however, buy the Giants some time as they try to upgrade their roster.

David Fucillo, the editor of SB Nation's 49ers website, Niners Nation, says:

Boldin can just keep going and going and going. He turned 35 in October, but given that speed has never been his game, he's still in good shape. He can still out-physical younger defensive backs. He's still got strong technique, and can get open in the short to intermediate range. He is the proverbial "possession receiver", but he remains an ideal version of it. He finished last season with 69 receptions for 789 yards in a god-awful offense with a broken Colin Kaepernick, and Blaine Gabbert throwing him the ball. As a No. 2 receiver behind a strong No. 1, he can still be a great option.

All of that still holds true regarding Boldin. The question, really, might be whether a player with little time left in his career has an interest in playing for a team that has missed the playoffs in each of the past four seasons.

Beyond Boldin, there really aren't a lot of appealing options on the free-agent market. The Giants have been down the James Jones road before, and despite his productive year with the Green Bay Packers, I doubt they would revisit that path. Marques Colston, Roddy White, and Greg Jennings don't have much left. Nate Washington, 33, looks like just a slot guy. Brandon LaFell was mediocre in Carolina, caught 74 passes for the New England Patriots in 2014, then only 37 last year. You wonder how much of his 2014 success was due simply to catching passes from Tom Brady.

CB Leon Hall

The Giants signed Janoris Jenkins to replace Prince Amukamara but still need both a slot corner and some depth on the outside. Hall might be a short-term option in the slot.

Joe Goodberry of SB Nation's Bengals website, Cincy Jungle, had this to say about Hall:

What he offers: Leon Hall is still a very technically sound player with a good football IQ. He's been reduced to a nickel CB, but that role still sees about 60 percent of the total snaps, and he's still one of the best nickel corners in the league. He's physical, presses well and offenses should never throw wide receiver screens in his direction. Hall is still one of the best tackling corners in the NFL today. Hall has also rotated into safety for some packages and has practiced there in training camp. I think he could extend his career a few years as a safety and nickel CB.

Concerns: Concerns with Hall are due to past injuries. It's amazing that he's come back from two Achilles injuries, but they have severely slowed him down. His top speed is almost all but gone and he doesn't have the short area quickness he once had. Hall is at his best in zone coverage and shouldn't be put outside in man coverage. His ball skills have largely been average throughout his career and combined with his lack of speed, it makes Hall a liability on deep passes.

Obviously, Hall is not a perfect solution. The Giants, though, have only Trevin Wade right now as an option in the slot. Wade is OK depth, but not really a guy you want to play regular snaps. The 31-year-old Hall is quite obviously on the downside of his solid nine-year career. The Giants, though, are in need of a quick fix. Like Boldin, he could provide the Giants with that and buy them time to find a more permanent solution.

OG Amini Silatolu

A 27-year-old guard, Silatolu has started 28 of the 33 games he has played in a four-year career with the Carolina Panthers. The problem is that injuries, including a pair of torn ACLs, have limited him to just those 33 of a potential 64 regular-season games. Still, Walter Football calls him "a talented guard."

Silatolu was a second-round pick by the Panthers in 2012 and started 15 games as a rookie. He has not, however, played more than eight games in a season since then.

Reports are that Silatolu has drawn interest from the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks. Where would he fit with the Giants? They could look at him as competition at right guard, or as a player who could give them the option of moving Justin Pugh to right tackle should they not be able to adequately address that position in the 2016 NFL Draft.

The injury history might scare the Giants off, and they couldn't be blamed for that. Also, adding a tackle seems to make more sense. In terms of free agency, though, there really aren't any left. I understand some will pound the table for Will Beatty, and while anything is possible, it seems pretty clear that Beatty and the Giants have moved on from each other.

CB Jerraud Powers

A player like Powers, a seven-year veteran who has started 82 NFL games and can play both outside and in the slot, might be exactly what the doctor ordered for a Giants' defense that needs cornerback depth. Powers, 29, spent four years with the Indianapolis Colts and the last three in Arizona.

When free agency began Powers might have been hoping for something along the lines of the three-year, $10.5 million contract he just finished with the Cardinals. It doesn't look like he's going to get that.

CB Brandon Boykin

Boykin was thought by some, including himself, to be the league's best slot corner during three seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. Traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers last season, Boykin languished on the bench before finally earning regular playing time the last half of the season.

Boykin will be 26 next season, so he fits with the Giants' apparent plan of trying to acquire younger, healthier players.

Other names of note

Cornerback Patrick Robinson, who played last season for the San Diego Chargers, makes sense. Except that he is visiting the Dallas Cowboys on Monday. If the Giants want to add a veteran tight end, perhaps Scott Chandler, last of the New England Patriots, would be a fit. The plan at safety seems to be to give young players Nat Berhe, Mykkele Thompson, and Bennett Jackson another chance. Veteran Reggie Nelson is, however, still looking for a team. So is Rashad Johnson, formerly of the Arizona Cardinals.