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Giants free agents: Who should stay, who should go?

Tough calls ahead on Leonard Williams, Markus Golden, others

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Philadelphia Eagles v New York Giants Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

We’re getting deeper and deeper into the NFL offseason. Free agency is only about six weeks away and it’s time we really start discussing in earnest how the New York Giants should approach it. Here is a look at the Giants’ unrestricted and restricted free agents, and my thoughts on whether or not the Giants should retain each of them.

Unrestricted free agents

Leonard Williams (DL) — Keep. Get past the gnashing of teeth over the price the Giants paid to acquire him (I don’t like giving up the third-round pick, either) and Williams is a good player. Objectively, he is better than B.J. Hill and he made the defensive line rotation better and deeper. He is a guy new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham could employ multiple ways.

The problem, as we knew it would be from the day the Giants pulled the trigger on their questionable trade with the Jets, is price. I’m not buying that he is “sunk cost” and the Giants should just move on. Because of what the Giants have already invested, Williams can probably squeeze more money out of the Giants than he can any other team.

Over The Cap is estimating a five-year, $75 million deal ($15 million per year) with $43 million guaranteed. That would put Williams among the top half-dozen or so annual salaries for defensive tackles, and it’s too rich for me.

Spotrac estimates a more reasonable five-year, $41.3 million ($8.2 million per year) deal that would put Williams in the top 30 paid players at his position. That would be easier to live with.

Markus Golden (EDGE) — Let go. This one isn’t easy for me. He’s a good player, a hard worker and he probably deserves to be paid. It’s just that he’ll be 29 next season and to keep him you have to pay him like a No. 1 pass rusher — Spotrac estimates four years, $54 million — and he isn’t that. If I’m spending big money on a pass rusher the guy I’m drooling over is Yannick Ngakoue, who will be 25 next season and already has 37.5 sacks in a four-year career with the Jacksonville Jaguars. For me, re-signing Golden would be a fallback option only.

Mike Remmers (RT) — Let go. I always looked at Remmers as a one-year stop gap who was there simply to buy the Giants time as they look to reconstruct that line. He served his purpose. Now it’s time to try and upgrade.

Michael Thomas (S) — Keep. He’s a terrific special teams player, a capable reserve safety and a guy who gets it and is a good influence on younger players. Joe Judge would learn to really appreciate him.

Cody Latimer (WR) — Let go. Hard-working guy, but the Giants just had two years of the “shouldn’t this guy be better than he is?” Latimer Experience. That’s enough.

Russell Shepard (WR) — Let go. Cody Core fills the same role. He’s four years younger, and he’s better.

Zak DeOssie (LS) — Let go. It’s time.

Antonio Hamilton (CB) — Keep. A really good special teams player.

David Mayo (LB) — Keep. Not sure he’s an every down starter, but he would be nice depth and is a quality special teams player.

Javorius ‘Buck’ Allen (RB) — Let go. The Giants need a reliable backup for Saquon Barkley. Not sure Allen’s it.

Deone Bucannon — Let go. This is no longer James Bettcher’s defense.

Scott Simonson (TE) — Let go. Good guy, but doesn’t really offer a lot.

Corey Coleman (WR) — Keep. Coming off a torn ACL the Giants should be able to get him on a one-year deal at or close to the veteran minimum. Bring him in, let him compete.

Cody Core (WR) — Keep. This guy is special when it comes to being a punt gunner.

Restricted free agents

Jon Halapio (C) — Let go. This is a hard call for me. I have a lot of respect for Halapio as a person and for how hard he worked to become an NFL starter. He’s coming off a second straight year with a bad injury, though, and he bluntly just isn’t good enough to be an NFL starting center. The Giants are already paying Spencer Pulley to be the backup. Now, they need to find a starter.

Aldrick Rosas (PK) — Keep. He’s been down, up, and back down again in three seasons. He’s still talented. He’s still young. The Giants have a chance here to stay out of the placekicking revolving door, and they should take it.

Elijhaa Penny (FB) — Keep. I would like to see the Giants upgrade at this spot, but it’s not easy to do. No harm at least bringing Penny back to compete.

Colin Holba (LS) — Keep. Did an acceptable job replacing DeOssie.

About restricted free agents

Via NFL Operations:

A restricted free agent is a player with three accrued NFL seasons who receives a “qualifying offer” from his current team. That qualifying offer is a salary tender pre-determined by the CBA. He can then negotiate with any club until April 17.

If the restricted free agent signs an offer sheet with a new club, his old club can match the offer and keep him because they have a right of first refusal on any offer sheet the player signs. If the old club does not match the offer, it may receive draft choice compensation depending on the amount of its qualifying offer. If an offer sheet is not executed on or before April 19, the player’s negotiating rights revert exclusively to his old club.