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Giants free agency: WR alternatives to Brandon Marshall

The Giants have better, more cost-effective options

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants committed 8.7 percent of their salary cap (roughly $13.5 million) to the wide receiver position in 2016. The NFL announced recently that next year’s cap is set at $167 million which, including a $1.8 million rollover from last season, leaves Big Blue at $168.8 million. With Victor Cruz’s salary coming off the books last month, the Giants currently have 6.99 percent of that (roughly $10.7 million) pledged to receivers for 2017. Assuming GM Jerry Reese allocates the same cap percentage to the position, give or take 20 percent of the total dollar amount, the Giants have about $4-6 million to spend on Cruz’s replacement.

Brandon Marshall wants to be that guy and isn’t shy about making it known. He’s taken the Adrian Peterson approach of social media overtures to get the Giants’ attention. Marshall changed his Instagram profile picture to ex-Giant receiver Devin Thomas, who also wore number 15, hoisting the Lombardi trophy after Big Blue took Super Bowl XLVI from the New England Patriots.

Representing yourself with a picture of someone else is odd (and the very definition of Catfish), but Marshall got his point across. He wants to be a Giant. As Bleacher Report’s Dan Federico astutely pointed out on the No Offseason Podcast, Marshall is a co-host on Showtime’s Inside the NFL, which is recorded in the New York City-area. As an active player, it’d be convenient for him to stay as close to Manhattan as possible.

Marshall to the Giants makes sense from a financial and football standpoint. The Giants need a big receiver to complement Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard. More importantly, Marshall’s market value of $4.9 million according to Spotrac fits perfectly into Reese’s budget. It’d be a seamless transition — for Marshall.

The same doesn’t hold true from Big Blue’s perspective. Marshall’s going on 33 years old and coming off the worst season of his career. Most disconcerting of all, particularly with the mercurial OBJ on the other side, he has a reputation for being disruptive. Coming from a toxic New York Jets locker room last season, the risk outweighs the reward for the Giants.

Besides, there are a few big receivers available at or near a price Reese and the front office could be willing to pay. Here are a few non-Marshall options worth exploring.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Vincent Jackson

Estimated market value; $4.6 million

Jackson’s most productive years are behind him, but he’s worth a look on a one-year non-guaranteed deal. The Giants need a big-bodied, relatively inexpensive possession receiver with reliable hands. They’ll have to break the bank to keep Beckham in New York sooner than later, and they’ll want to avoid a long-term commitment to anyone at the position until then. Best-case scenario, Jackson becomes a solid third-down/red-zone threat in 2017, and is back off the books this time next year. Worst-case, he doesn’t work out and you part ways with him over the summer.

Brian Quick

Estimated market value: $5.6 million

Quick’s estimated annual cap number and size (6-foot-3, 218 pounds) fits the Giants’ criteria. He’s also on the right side of 30 and, save for stretch on IR after a shoulder injury in 2014, has remained healthy. He’s much younger than Marshall, fresher than Jackson and comes at a comparable price. One significant hurdle: receiver-needy teams, such as the Philadelphia Eagles, may be willing to outbid the Giants for Quick’s services.

Kenny Britt

Estimated market value: $6.7 million

Britt, of Bayonne, N.J., had a career-year for the Los Angeles Rams in 2016. He registered his first 1,000-yard season, no small feat considering the Rams’ QB situation, and was healthier than he’d been in recent years. Britt has always had the talent to be one of the NFL’s best at the position, off the field issues and injuries held him back. He showed last season that he’s trending in the right direction, and at 28, he may still be ascending. He’s a little pricier than Quick, but he’s also a more dynamic play-maker.

Kamar Aiken

Estimated market value: $7.5 million

At 6-foot-2 and 27 years-old, Aiken is another receiver that fits the mold for Big Blue. He had a disappointing year for the Baltimore Ravens in 2016, falling behind a returning Steve Smith Sr. and new acquisition Mike Wallace on the depth chart. He’s the riskiest, and priciest, name on this list thus far but he may have the biggest upside.

Terrance Williams

Estimated market value: $8.2 million

The Dallas Cowboys’ receiver ingratiated himself to Giants fans in last year’s season-opener when he elected to stay in bounds during the final seconds of the last drive. Time expired before Dallas could attempt what would’ve been a game-winning 57-yard field goal and Big Blue started 1-0 for the first time since 2010. Williams, 27, checks all the boxes for Big Blue and would be solid alongside Beckham and Shepard. He’s expecting a deal worth $6-8 million annually.

Terrelle Pryor Sr.

Estimated market value: $8.9 million

Pryor broke out as a wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns last year, his first full-season at the position since converting from quarterback. He’s drawn interest from a number of teams, the Giants being one of them. His size (6-foot-4) and athleticism (4.38 second 40-yard dash) paired with OBJ and Shepard would strike fear into opposing defenses. Pryor could end up receiving an over-inflated contract from someone, putting him far beyond the Giants’ means. He’d have to leave a significant amount of money on the table in order to bring his talents to East Rutherford.