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Giants free agency rumors: Jason Pierre-Paul is back, so what's next?

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Who else is in play for Big Blue?

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Charles Johnson
Charles Johnson
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The first big domino in the reconstruction of the New York Giants' atrocious defense has fallen, with the Giants bringing back the guy they wanted Steve Spagnuolo to build a defense around in the first place. Jason Pierre-Paul, questions about his permanently damaged hand and all, will be a Giant for at least one more season, having agreed to a "prove-it" deal that can reportedly max out at $10.5 million for the 2016 season.

Were the Giants right to push their free-agent chips in the direction of Pierre-Paul rather than 31-year-old Mario Williams, who is apparently heading to the Miami Dolphins? In all honesty, I have never been a huge Pierre-Paul fan. If, however, the Giants believe Pierre-Paul will not have to wear a club next season and will have adequate ability to grip with his hand he is probably a better gamble than the sometimes disinterested Williams. You have that Pierre-Paul will be motivated to prove he is still a great player and try to earn a mega-contract a year from now, at age 28.

Now that we know Pierre-Paul will be in the fold, what is next for the Giants with the official signing period beginning Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET?

Who won't be coming?

Well, we know defensive tackle Malik Jackson will not be a Giant next season. He will be a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars for the astronomical price of $90 million over six seasons, with $42 million guaranteed. It seems pretty certain that Eric Weddle, the most accomplished safety on the market, won't be a Giant, either.

Who might be coming?

Just because the Giants are bringing Pierre-Paul back does not mean they are no longer in the defensive end market. Charles Johnson, formerly of the Carolina Panthers, has visited the Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He tweeted that he is near a decision.

[UPDATE: 7:47 p.m. ET: We now know that future won't be with the Giants. Johnson is returning to the Panthers.]

What about Robert Ayers? There have been reports that Ayers is looking for around $10 million per year. In the current market, where teams seems to be tossing around crazy money, he might just get it. It might, however, come from somone other than the Giants. Ian Rapoport said on NFL Network Tuesday afternoon that Ayers has several suitors.

Oliver Vernon? The Giants were expected to be a suitor, but there has been no indication that has yet materialized. Perhaps the Giants play in the lower tier of the market, build depth, and turn to the 2016 NFL Draft in hopes of finding a big-time pass rusher to team with Pierre-Paul.

There have been some reports that the Giants might be bidders for run-stuffing New York Jets defensive tackle Damon Harrison. The 6-foot-4, 350-pound 27-year-old Harrison received a grade of 91.3 from Pro Football Focus in 2015 while playing 577 snaps. That was the highest grade of any free-agent defensive tackle, higher than Jackson's 86.9. ESPN's Dan Graziano says Harrison is "a name to watch, and he'd be a smart signing for the Giants as they try to rebuild their defense for the long term."

What about linebacker? Cornerback? Free safety?

We have heard little to nothing about those positions at this point. There was a report that the Giants were interested in safety George Iloka, but nothing substantive has come of that. Same with cornerback, where we have heard the name Patrick Robinson, but that is all. Little to nothing about Prince Amukamara, or any other top-tier corner on the market. As for linebacker, not a peep yet.

There is plenty of time, and there will be many more twists and turns before the free agency dust settles. The Giants appear initially focused on a defensive line that wasn't good enough in 2015, and that seems like a good plan. We just have to wait and see where it leads.