The focus for the New York Giants right now is finding a head coach. The fan base is also caught up in the quarterback chatter after both Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold announced Wednesday that they will enter the 2018 NFL Draft.
The business of re-constructing the entire roster after a 3-13 season also has to be a high priority for new GM Dave Gettleman. As such, figuring out what to do with the Giants own free agents will have to be a major focus.
Let’s go through the list of unrestrict free agents. I will offer my view on which should stay, and what I think Gettleman and the Giants will actually do.
Unrestricted free agents
Shane Vereen (RB) — Just completed a three-year, $12.35 million deal that showed why spending money on running backs in free agency is a risk. Had a nice first year with the Giants with 59 receptions and 260 rushing yards (4.3 yards per carry). Injuries wrecked his 2016 season. In 2017, he had 44 catches but virtually no impact.
Verdict — I would let the 28-year-old go, and that’s what I think the Giants will do. Wayne Gallman and Paul Perkins can both handle receiving duties, and there is also the possibility of Saquan Barkley or someone else in the draft.
Keenan Robinson (LB) — Good first year, injury-plagued second year.
Verdict — Let him go, and I think the Giants will. It’s time to get serious about rebuilding the linebacking corps, and stop plugging it with stop-gaps.
D.J. Fluker (G) — A huge man who made a huge impact on the Giants’ offensive line when he was healthy.
Verdict — I believe the Giants should keep Fluker, and in the end I think they will. He won’t cost a ton of money, and both his enthusiasm and run-blocking ability are things you can work with.
Jonathan Casillas (LB) — Giants’ defensive captain had his season ended by a neck injury. He will be 31 next season. The neck injury might end his career.
Verdict — I love Casillas. Stand up guy. Great in the locker room and with the media. I just don’t think he’s all that good of a player. I would let him go. If he’s back it has to be on a one-year deal with little guaranteed money, and he has to earn a roster spot.
Justin Pugh (OL) — Played in only eight games because of his back injury. Played only 11 games the year before. Could be the most interesting free-agent decision of all.
Verdict — A really tough call. Gettleman wants to rebuild the line, and Pugh is the best guy they had in 2017. But, can you pay him big money with his injury history? Someone will. I would offer him a short-term deal with no more than two years of guaranteed money, and I would keep the guarantee as low as possible. Give him games played incentives to boost the value. I think, though, that someone is going to make Pugh a very, very rich young man and that someone won’t be the Giants.
Kerry Wynn (DE) — Useful, but limited veteran defensive end.
Verdict — Wynn is a good guy to have on a team, but the Giants need more than he can give. I’d let him go, and I believe the Giants will.
Weston Richburg (C) — Like Pugh, another interesting case. Ended up on IR this season with a concussion, and various reporters have said Richburg wasn’t happy at all about that. He told reporters he was cleared from the concussion protocol and could have played the final few games.
Verdict — Like Pugh, an interesting call. He is a really good player, but might not fit in the Giants’ rebuilt offensive line. Why? Because when Gettleman grinds through the tape he is going to learn that restricted free agent Brett Jones, who started the final few games in Richburg’s place, is also a quality NFL center. Jones will also be less expensive, giving the Giants flexibility to spend in other areas. I would let Richburg go, which is what I believe is going to happen.
Geno Smith (QB) — Wants a chance to be a starter somewhere.
Verdict — Virtually no chance he is back next season. I wouldn’t keep him — I wouldn’t have signed him in the first place.
Ross Cockrell (CB) — Emerged as a really good player for the Giants, playing far more than anticipated.
Verdict — Should be kept, and I think he will be.
Orleans Darkwa (RB) — Had a career year at the right time. What the Giants do with Darkwa will give us an indication about their plans in the draft.
Verdict — I would keep him, but I wouldn’t break the bank for the 25-year-old. Latavius Murray got three years and $15 million with $8.55 million guaranteed last season on the free-agent market. I can’t see Darkwa getting that kind of deal. I think he’s back, but on a team-friendly, incentive-laden one- or two-year deal.
Kelvin Sheppard (LB) — The guy is a pro, and did an admirable job when the Giants brought him back mid-season.
Verdict — I would have no problem bringing him back on a veteran minimum deal and letting him compete for a roster spot. This one could go either way.
John Greco — Brought in late in the season as a backup guard.
Verdict — Greco is 32. The 10-year veteran told me earlier this week that he wants to keep playing. I would have no problem giving him a chance to compete for a job next summer, but I think the Giants will move on.
Mark Herzlich (LB) — Spent the season on IR.
Verdict — Herzlich just keeps on keeping on with the Giants. Gettleman and the Giants know they need to rebuild the fractured locker room, and Herzlich is the kind of guy teams like to have in there every day. I’d give him another one-year deal and let him compete for a spot. My guess is that is what the Giants will do.
Akeem Ayers (LB) — Signed as a late-season fill-in.
Verdict — I would move on, and I think there is little chance he is back next season.
Darryl Morris (CB) — Signed as a late-season fill-in, and did better than could have been hoped.
Verdict — No harm bringing him back to compete for a job. I think the Giants might do that.
Jay Bromley (DT) — Tough call. Has never really lived up to his status as a third-round pick.
Verdict — I would move on. As for what the Giants will do, I think it’s 50-50 that Bromley gets to stay on something like a one-year deal.
Nick Becton (OL) — Late-season add, was on the 53-man roster for the final game.
Verdict — Maybe he gets a chance to come to camp and compete.
Tavarres King (WR) — Caught 18 passes, three for touchdowns, in his most-productive NFL season.
Verdict — In all honesty, I think he’s better than Roger Lewis Jr. or Travis Rudolph. I would bring him back and let him compete. I think the Giants will.
Nat Berhe (S) — Another year for Berhe where he was little more than a special teams player.
Verdict — I like Berhe, but he is really a strong safety on a team with Landon Collins. I think he should move on. I would let him do that. If he gets offers I don’t think the Giants will compete to keep him.
Devon Kennard — Had a good season splitting his time between strong-side linebacker and a pass-rushing defensive lineman.
Verdict — Kennard has never lived up to the promise of his 2014 rookie season, 4.5 sacks in six starts. He is, though, a good, useful player. He is also a solid guy in the locker room. I would keep him. I think the Giants will — at least, I believe they should.