Grading the New York Giants three days into free agency

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The New York Football Giants started out of the gate strong as the new NFL year began on Tuesday. The team locked up several of their own players and lured a trio of free agents into the fold. But the progress that was made seemingly came to a screeching halt when free agent acquisition O’Brien Schofield was yanked off the table following concerns over his knee.

Since then the only news of note was the re-signing of linebacker Jon Beason to a three-year, $19 million contract, with $7 million guaranteed, as well as the flier the team took on with center J.D Walton. Taking a look at each of the team’s offensive and defensive units and the progress the team has made.

DEFENSE:
While bringing Trumaine McBride at two-years and $3.1 million seems to be great value for the Giants; the Beason contract was a bit perplexing. The three-year term seems appropriate, given the fact that Beason is 29 years-old. But Beason’s contract averages more than Karlos Dansby’s pact with the Browns, and scouts would be hard pressed to call Beason a better player.

It’s true that the defense played better with Beason in the lineup after the trade from Carolina, Beason individually was graded an overall -17.1 by Pro Football Focus. In fairness to Jerry Reese, this is a tough one to call, but Beason better earn his money next or else this price tag will be questioned.

The Giants also re-signed Stevie Brown to a one-year $3 million deal with incentives. Since he is coming off of ACL surgery, this contract also represents a gamble by Big Blue. If Brown is back close to 100 percent, then it will be a good deal for New York, but with knee injuries, you never can tell.

The G-men lost defensive tackle Linval Joseph to the Minnesota Vikings on a five-year $31.5 million contract. If youngsters Marcus Kuhn and Johnathan Hankins pick up the slack, then no harm was done here. Also, bringing Mike Patterson pack would help soften the blow as well.

The O’Brien Schofield move was an interesting one for the Giants, Schofield is an edge pass rusher who may have allowed the Giants to deviate from their standard 4-3 defensive scheme. Once upon a time, the G-men could line four linemen up against most offensive lines and control the line of scrimmage. That is no longer the case.

Fans then clamored for the Giants to employ more blitz packages, but watching Jacquian Williams, Spencer Paysinger and Keith Rivers blitz was painful. Corey Webster was never on the field, and Prince Amukamara is not a blitz cornerback, so Perry Fewell’s options were limited. Schofield would have changed that, and the fact that it appears likely that he will not be coming aboard is a disappointment.

The interesting aspect of the Justin Tuck situation is that the Giants definitely had a walk away price. But Tuck only gave the opportunity to match the Raiders’ contract, which is not a hometown discount. In fact, is it really ever a hometown discount if you can get another team to overpay for your services?

OFFENSE: The strange journey that is Hakeem Nicks is still playing out, but it looks as if the Carolina Panthers may be the front runners. Given Nicks’ lack of production the past two seasons, he can and will be easily replaced. In the draft and free agency, teams should be paying for future production, and not past production. Letting Nicks go was the only credible move the organization could make, given his lack of effort last season and reported insubordination. Forget the talk that took the high road, and be pretty sure that some salty language was used to describe the Former Tar Heel in the Giants’ front office. Having said this, the G-men have still downgraded at wideout, until they get Nick’s replacement on board.

Bringing back running back Peyton Hillis was good for several reasons; first he still is relatively young. Secondly, Hillis seems comfortable with whatever role he will be given with the team. If you compare Hillis to Michael Cox or Da’Rel Scott, there is no question who the better player is.

Rashad Jennings is a veteran running back who has been an understudy to Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden. In his four years in the NFL, he still has less than 400 carries on the ground. He can catch the ball out of the backfield (36 catches last year with Oakland), and he provides good pass blocking skills as well. His overall rating of 6.0 was good for 21st in the league at running back. By comparison, Andre Brown -4.6 overall, which ranked him 46th in the NFL. The Giants appear to have upgraded at running back.

Offensive line may be the hardest position to make a judgment on because there are still so many variables. Yes, Geoff Schwartz would appear to be a huge upgrade at guard. But are Chris Snee and Will Beatty both going to be healthy for the start of next year?

The David Baas situation makes more sense now that we know he would not have been ready to play at the beginning of the season, at the very least, but it would be hard to imagine that New York thinks that J.D. Walton is the immediate answer. Bringing Kevin Boothe back might be a stop gap measure, but maybe Big Blue should consider Phil Costa, late of the Dallas Cowboys as well? Like Boothe, Costa can play guard and center and at 26 years old is younger.

Through day three of free agency, it does not appear that the G-man have addressed the tight end position, as well as a red zone wideout, cover cornerback and defensive end. We shall see what day four brings.

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