Sunday’s season finale for the New York Giants could also be the last time several free agents to be play for the Giants.
Saquon Barkley — We’re not messing around. We are starting off with the big fish. Barkley and the Giants fell a couple million dollars short of a multi-year deal last offseason. Whether or not the Giants want to try again to reach a deal with Barkley, something like three years and $36-39 million with roughly the first two seasons guaranteed is my guess at a deal that could get done, is anybody’s guess.
Barkley has had a good, but not great year. He will be 27 next season. He suffered yet another high ankle sprain. There is another year of wear and tear on his body, with Barkley having 268 touches entering Week 18.
I don’t know what is going to happen. One thing I do expect, though, is that Barkley won’t play nice this time around if the Giants try to use the franchise tag again.
Adoree’ Jackson — I have thought all season that this would be the last for Jackson with the Giants. I like Jackson and have had a number of pleasant conversations with him over the last year or so, but I have to write this. The number of times Jackson turned down contact Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams, including Puka Nacua’s 80-yard catch-and-run where all Jackson had to do was shove him out of bounds and it would have been a simple 4-5-yard play, tells me he doesn’t expect to be back next season, either.
Xavier McKinney — This one is going to be interesting. The Giants should not be in the business of hemorrhaging young, home grown talent. Figuring out what McKinney is, though, and what he’s worth isn’t an easy task. Not to mention whether or not he truly fits in a Wink Martindale defense — if, of course, Martindale is back next year.
My suspicion is that, a little bit like Julian Love a year ago, McKinney and his camp might see his value differently than the Giants will.
Tyrod Taylor — The Giants have seemed to signal that Taylor, a journeyman backup quarterback who sometimes looks like Josh Allen and at other times looks like Jake Fromm, won’t be back next season. He will eagerly be picked up by another NFL team, and will probably stay in the league as long as he wants to.
Sterling Shepard — I have to believe this is the end of the line for the 30-year-old Shepard. He has only seven receptions this season, never more than one in a game. He has played just nine snaps over the past four weeks.
I don’t see any reason for the Giants to bring him back next season, and I don’t see Shepard wanting to play anywhere else.
Ben Bredeson — A decent player who can be used at both guard spots and at center, what to do with the 25-year-old is a tough call. He has 24 starts in 44 NFL games, but he probably isn’t a guy you want to pencil in as a Week 1 starter. I would be on board with bringing Bredeson back as an interior offensive line backup, but not with paying him starter-caliber money and counting on him to be part of your best five linemen.
Justin Pugh — Pugh is a great guy. His leadership, veteran presence and willingness to play whatever position is needed have been a net positive since he came ‘straight off the couch’ to play for the Giants.
Thing is, Pugh the player hasn’t been very good. You can excuse the poor play at left tackle. He didn’t belong there at 33, coming off a major knee injury and not having played that spot since 2015. Truthfully, though, he hasn’t been better at left guard. In the last three weeks he has given up three sacks, 12 pressures and his Pro Football Focus grades have been 29.5, 35.9 and 48.5. His overall PFF score (three games at LT, seven at LG) is 40.7, worst of his career and 20 points below his 2022 mark. In 10 games, the 35 pressures he has given up is the most since his 2013 rookie season. In seven games at guard, Pugh has allowed four sacks and 26 pressures.
Maybe some added weight (he is currently below 300 pounds) and a full offseason would help him, but he will be 34 next season and off what he has put on tape this year penciling him in as a starter might not be a great idea.
A’Shawn Robinson — The 28-year-old signed a one-year, $5 million contract ($4 million guaranteed) to help provide interior defensive line depth. He has seen his role, and his production, increase since the midseason trade of Leonard Williams.
The Giants could really use another player the caliber of Williams along the defensive front, and that’s not Robinson. He is, though, a pretty good player. I would be OK with another reasonably-priced one-year deal.
Darnay Holmes — The four-year veteran lost his role as the Giants’ slot cornerback this season and has played a career-low 117 defensive snaps. He has been good for the Giants as as a gunner on special teams. The guess here is that with Cor’Dale Flott now entrenched in the slot for the Giants Holmes seeks an opportunity elsewhere.
Parris Campbell — This one is easy to see coming. The Giants signed Campbell to a one-year, $4.7 million contract. He began the year as the team’s starting slot receiver, but was supplanted as soon as Wan’Dale Robinson was healthy enough for full-time duty. Campbell has only 20 receptions, was relegated to kickoff return duty and has been inactive for the past four games.
There are others like Jihad Ward and Matt Breida who could have made this list. Darren Waller won’t be a free agent, but his future might be uncertain as well after a disappointing season. Same with Mark Glowinski.