The New York Giants are strapped for cash - that is not a secret. The rookies' cap impact doesn’t affect the Giants unit they sign their contracts, and rookie minicamp starts this weekend. The time is running out, but during his post-draft press conference GM Joe Schoen seemed confident they’ll find a solution.
I understand that the Giants aren’t in the best cap situation. Still, they’re likely going to sign veteran free agents to compete for roster spots. Once space is created in some manner, the Giants could look to add free agents who may command more than a veteran minimum contract.
According to Ourlads.com’s depth chart, the Giants have 88 of 90 players signed, including the undrafted free agents. Here are five cheap options the Giants may likely consider to help form a more competitive and complete roster.
Oshane Ximines, EDGE
Let’s entertain bringing a familiar face back to New York. After a good 25-pressure, 4.5-sack rookie season, the Old Dominion product spent much of 2020 and 2021 injured or in the doghouse. However, Ximines carved out a valuable role in Wink Martindale’s defense last season. He played 529 snaps with fifteen pressures and three sacks.
Many believed Qunicy Roche would have the inside track to snaps at EDGE behind Azeez Ojulari and Kayvon Thibodeaux, but Ximines was a better fit for Martindale’s scheme. His athletic ability allowed him to drop to the boundary flat and operate in a more fluid manner while slanting on twists. His strip-sack against Aaron Rodgers to secure the Giants’ victory in London, England, was likely his highlight of the season.
Ximines was a pleasant surprise in 2022. His skill set meshed well with the defense, but I was fine with allowing him to pursue other options in free agency. Now that he’s still a free agent, and the Giants failed to draft an edge rusher, I think New York should entertain resigning him to a short-term low-cost contract. He knows the defense, and he had a role that he played adequately last season; allow him to compete for that once again.
Justin Houston, EDGE
Could the Giants realistically afford Justin Houston’s services? It wouldn’t appear so, but maybe the 34-year-old would like to reunite with Martindale and Drew Wilkins, who coached him to a 40-pressure six-sack season in 2021. Houston played 577 snaps in Mike Macdonald’s defense last season. The 12-year veteran has 111.5 career sacks and 583 pressures.
He was productive and may likely return to Baltimore. However, his leadership, experience, production, and fit make sense for the Giants if they could swing it financially. According to Spotrac.com, Houston’s market value is $5.3 million per year. That is entirely too much for the Giants right now, but maybe New York creates space through extensions or movements.
Marcus Allen, LB
The former Penn State safety was a fifth-round pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2018. The 26-year-old switched to linebacker before the 2022 season, which prompted the Steelers to use an original round tender on the restricted free agent.
Allen didn’t see any defensive snaps but played 229 special teams reps where he recorded 10 tackles before tearing his bicep in Week 16. He has 781 career special teams plays and 19 tackles across five seasons with the Steelers. Those types of contributions on specials can’t be overlooked.
Allen is only 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, and his ‘tweener status may scare teams away from him, but his profile could work in a Martindale defense. If he were to join the Giants, it would be due to his special teams’ work. He did take one of the dumber penalties I witnessed in 2022 by joining the Carolina Panthers huddle to start the fourth quarter while jawing at the opponent. Just a note on the former Penn State safety.
Zach Cunningham, LB
The 28-year-old former second-round pick in 2017 has bounced around the AFC South. He started with the Texans and spent the last season and a half with the Tennessee Titans. He only played 205 snaps last season and never played less than 689 prior to 2022. An elbow injury landed him on Injury-Reserved where he missed eight games.
Cunningham has desirable linebacker traits. His length is in the 96th percentile with explosive testing numbers and solid speed. The Giants prioritize length and athletic ability at the second level, and Cunningham offers that with some upside.
Ty Nsekhe, OT
He’s still going! According to my extensive research on Wikipedia, Ty Nsekhe is still willing to play football. The 2012 undrafted free agent has been a steady force at several positions, with several teams, throughout his long career. He’ll turn 38 years old during the season.
Nsekhe spent the 2019 and 2020 seasons with Brian Daboll and Bobby Johnson in Buffalo. He was with the Los Angeles Rams in 2022; he was penalized eight times last season while surrendering eight pressures and three sacks. Despite that fact, Pro Football Focus had him graded very well.
New York could use some competition at swing tackle behind Andrew Thomas and Evan Neal. Would Nsekhe beat out Tyre Phillips, Devery Hamilton, Korey Cunningham, or Matt Peart? I’m not certain, but I’d bet against it; however, it doesn’t hurt to add a veteran leader to a 90-man roster at vet-minimum contract.