The New York Giants have seen three players opt out of the 2020 NFL season. They had a largely unproven roster with some apparent holes even before then.
Should the Giants use some of the $22.9 million Over The Cap shows they have in salary cap space to bolster the 2020 roster? With the salary cap potentially dropping from $198.2 to $175 million next season, there are good reasons to horde cap space.
Still, it’s tantalizing to discuss adding quality veteran players to a roster. So, I asked Big Blue View contributors this question:
“Who is the one free agent the Giants should add before the 2020 season?”
Here are their answers:
Chris Pflum says ...
Okay, if I HAVE to name a name, I would go with Logan Ryan. He was the first name on my mind when Ed proposed this round table Wednesday morning, and the need at cornerback has only gotten more urgent after Sam Beal opted out. Historically, Ryan has done a better job in the slot than out wide, and that was part of the appeal for me. Slot corner is basically a starting job anyway in the NFL, and his presence could help solidify the Giants’ pass coverage while still allowing Beal or Corey Ballentine to grow on the outside. And that’s still true, even after Beal’s opt out all but ensures that Ballentine will be the Giants’ second starting outside corner. What’s more, the Giants have struggled covering the slot, with Grant Haley being a better tackler than coverage player and we don’t know what to expect from Darnay Holmes.
So how did I get from there to “nobody”? Honestly, I just don’t expect the Giants to make a splash and sign one of the top remaining free agents. The NFL season is a battle of attrition as much as anything else, and that’s in a regular year. As much as that cap space might be burning a hole in people’s figurative pockets, we need to recognize that the Giants are going to lose players over the course of a season. Players will get hurt, and while we don’t want to see it happen, we should expect that players will get COVID-19. Every NFL team needs a rainy day fund to make it through the season, and I expect the Giants to try to keep a hefty stash in their back pocket. What’s more, the expectation is that the salary cap will be going down next year, just as the team needs to think seriously about long-term deals for Evan Engram and Dalvin Tomlinson, not to mention start thinking about Saquon Barkley’s future.
Emily Iannaconi says ...
Giants fan did not think the second cornerback position alongside James Bradberry would be unclear heading into the 2020 season as DeAndre Baker was set to take on the role. An offseason of arrest and controversy however, has put the second cornerback position, for better or worse, up for grabs.
Logan Ryan was one of the most productive cornerbacks in the NFL last season. In 2019, he recorded 113 tackles, 4.5 sacks, four interceptions and four forced fumbles. He can play in the slot and outside and has shown the ability to make big plays. What’s more, Ryan played for the Patriots from 2013-16 before joining the Tennessee Titans. He therefore comes from a similar background as coach Joe Judge. At 29 years old, Ryan brings valuable experience to the Giants secondary. With a $9.5 million salary last season, he is also affordable.
Sam Beal was probably the frontrunner for this second cornerback spot with Baker out, but he has opted out of the 2020 season, leaving the Giants in a deeper hole. Corey Ballentine will get a crack at the job, but he is just 24 years old and has little experience.
Ryan therefore seems to have the potential to provide a clear step up in the Giants secondary.
Nick Falato says ...
There is nothing more important than ensuring that Daniel Jones and the Giants’ offense, under new coordinator Jason Garrett, has success. One of the best ways to protect Jones is to give him the best offensive line possible. Not only will that provide more time to throw the football, but it will also help the Giants establish a more formidable rushing attack. As of right now, there is ONE center on the roster; a former undrafted rookie free agent named Spencer Pulley.
Pulley failed to beat out Jon Halapio, the 2019 starting center, and he was uninspiring during his time on the field in 2018. Halapio doesn’t seem to be ready to bounce back from his Week 17 Achilles injury, which leaves the roster barren of any experience starters behind Pulley. Competition is barren of any experienced starts. is necessary for the 2020 Giants.
As currently constructed, the roster has fifth-round rookie left guard Shane Lemieux, versatile swing lineman Nick Gates, and undrafted rookie free agent Kyle Murphy, who played one game at center for Rhode Island (but played mostly tackle in his career). In a normal off-season, one of these three may have been able to adapt to the nuances of playing the center position, but 2020 is far from normal.
I’m not bullish on any of these three stepping into the starting lineup and becoming centers as of right now, but I don’t think the Giants shouldn’t investigate their long-term viability for the position. Gates has a similar build to Justin Britt, which is untraditional to the center position, but there’s so much more to playing the position.
I think Kilgore, 32, may be a solid fit for the team at a big price discount. He’s a solid pass protector who isn’t overpowering, but does a solid job framing his blocks. He’s by no means a long-term solution and he’s no spring chicken, but his experience could help this Giants offensive line. According to PFF, he was 24th in run blocking and 14th in pass blocking in 2019. For reference, Halapio was 35th in run blocking and 34th in pass blocking.
Valentine’s View ...
For me, this comes down to the biggest position of need and the player who could potentially play the most snaps and have the biggest impact.
The biggest trouble spot, and one where the Giants appear to have few palatable options to start the season, looks like center.
Spencer Pulley is the only experienced center on the roster. Nick Gates, Shane Lemieux, and undrafted players Kyle Murphy and Tyler Haycraft are all conversion candidates. The difficulty, though, of opening the season with a young center who has never played with position, combined with a young quarterback, in a year where there are so few practice reps, could lead to disastrous results.
Besides, with Nate Solder having opted out Gates could well be needed as the Giants’ starting right tackle.
Both former NFL center Brett Romberg and former NFL offensive line coach Paul Alexander spoke with me about the idea of adding a veteran center who, while perhaps somewhat limited physically, would know what he is doing and be able to orchestrate the line effectively.
Britt, who is 29 and played only eight games last season after suffering a torn ACL, fits that description.
I could easily go with cornerback Logan Ryan. I have banged the drum for months for the Giants to sign Ryan, whom Joe Judge is familiar with from their days with the New England Patriots. I still think it’s a good idea, and I would endorse it if it were to happen. I just think the Giants’ top priority should be to solidify center for 2020, if they can.
The truly smart thing for the Giants to do is save as much money for the 2021 offseason as possible, especially since the salary cap could be going down by as much as $23 million. If they want to spend some money, though, I think center is the first place to do it.