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Six free agent options to fill the Giants’ open roster spot

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The Giants once again have an open roster spot. Which free agents might they look at?

NFL: New York Giants-Minicamp NorthJersey.com-USA TODAY NETWORK

Monday was a “good news, bad news” kind of day for the New York Giants. First, they learned that DeAndre Baker only suffered a knee sprain and avoided a torn ACL, but then that sigh of relief was quickly followed by Amba Etta-Tawo being lost for the season with a torn Achilles tendon.

So the Giants once again have an open roster spot after a season-ending injury to a wide receiver.

Last time the Giants filled out their roster by signing free agent wideouts T.J. Jones and Etta-Tawo. The most likely course of action will be for the Giants to replace one free agent receiver with another, likely signing one of the players they in whom they showed interest after their first bout with injuries.

But with Darius Slayton on the field and working his way back from from a hamstring injury, they might look for reinforcements elsewhere on the roster.

Early on the Giants showed interest in WR Cameron Meredith, as well as safeties Tre Boston and Jonathan Cyprien. However, all three have since been signed by other teams. So with the Giants’ first choices off the market, which players could they look at to fill their open roster spot?

  1. Flynn Nagel (WR) - The Giants had Nagel in their rookie mini-camp and hosted him again for their emergency receiver workout. They obviously like the rookie slot receiver from Northwestern. He isn’t a playmaker, but a consistent chain mover who makes his hay with good short-area quickness.
  2. Justin Hunter (WR) - We heard the Giants had some interest in Hunter early in camp, and they could look at him again. Hunter has a sky-high athletic potential which made him a second-round pick back in 2013, but he has never elevated his game to match that potential. However, if the Giants want to take a flyer on an explosive height/weight/speed player, Hunter could catch their eye.
  3. Joe Barksdale (OT) - Nobody should feel comfortable about the Giants’ depth on the offensive line. We tagged Barksdale as a potential low-cost upgrade to the Giants roster back in March, and he is still available. Barksdale was quietly effective on the Arizona Cardinals offensive line last year and could potentially win the starting right tackle job outright if brought it.
  4. Nick Perry (EDGE) - We are dealing with a very limited sample size so far, but concerns about the Giants’ pass rush remain. Perry has a long injury history, which should keep his price down, but also has plenty of experience as both an outside linebacker and as a defensive end. He seemed to hit his stride three years ago with the Packers, getting 18 sacks in the 2016 and 2017 seasons. He might be worth a look, if healthy.
  5. Corey Liuget (DT) - Liuget was a first round pick for the Los Angeles Chargers back in 2011 (then in San Diego), and became a consistently disruptive presence by his second season. The team opted not to pick up his option for this year after an injury ended his 2018 season, making him a free agent. Liuget has experience and the ability to play in both three and four man fronts and if healthy could be a legitimate upgrade to the defensive roster.
  6. Muhammad Wilkerson (DT) - Wilkerson has the highest risk/reward potential of any of the free agents still on the street. The former Pro Bowl and All-Pro player sticks out on any list of free agents, but his status is a complicated one. Wilkerson was once believed to be a very high character player, but he seemed to give up on the Jets and it was revealed that he had begun skipping team meetings and activities. He was inactive for the final three games of 2017 and released after the year ended. Wilkerson was then signed by the Green Bay Packers, but only played in three games last year, having his season ended in week 3 following a serious ankle injury. The Packers decided to let him leave via free agency, and he was arrested on a DUI this summer and his status is uncertain.

However, his talent as a defensive lineman is undeniable. Wilkerson has the prototypical build to play either the 5-technique or 3-technique and while he might not be the player he was in 2015, he could still be a high-quality rotational player. The Giants also have a history with Wilkerson, as it was believed that he was a target of theirs in the 2011 draft, as well as their top target in the 2016 free agency period (before he was extend by the Jets). Assuming Wilkerson is healthy, can avoid significant discipline from the NFL, and his character concerns had more to do with the Jets’ locker room and coaching staff, Wilkerson might be a risk worth taking.