The other day, I posted an article from NFL Mocks that graded the Giants free agency moves. Since then, there has been a few more signings worth taking a look at. Let’s run down the latest list shall we?
Ahmad Bradshaw, RB (resigned)
Mathias Kiwanuka, DE (resigned)
Michael Clayton, WR (resigned)
Andre Brown, RB (resigned*)
Ben Patrick, TE (Cardinals)
Steve Weatherford, P (Jets)
David Carr, QB (Niners)
David Baas, C (Niners)
Stacy Andrews, OT (Seahawks)
Chris White, OG (Seahawks)
Christian Hopkins, TE (UFL)
Brant Clouser (G)
David Sims (S)
Ibrahim Abdulai (DT)
Jerrard Tarrant (S)
Spencer Paysinger (LB)
Jarriel King (OT)
Craig Marshall (DE)
Justin Trattou (S)
Martin Parker (DT)
Henry Hynoski (FB)
Mark Herzlich (LB)
TE Kevin Boss
WR Steve Smith
For the record, the full list of NY Giants transactions are here.
Now for the grade:
While I went over the key signings the other day and the reasons behind my overall grade (Bradshaw, Kiwanuka, Weatherford) the Giants have also somewhat addressed their needs at Offensive Line and Linebacker. They haven’t made any big name signings like the Eagles, but the moves the Giants have made fortifying and providing some competition and depth may be adequate. The Giants nearly made the playoffs last year with the squad they had, a few plays here and there and we’re looking at a different 2010 outcome all together. This year may be another 10-12 win season for the Giants with the majority of the same team returning in 2011 with some improvements to boot.
The biggest improvements would be:
• A new punter in Steve Weatherford
• Veteran offensive line depth with Baas, White and Andrews
• New TE options with Ben Patrick and Christian Hopkins
• LB competition with Mark Herzlich and Spencer Paysinger
But let’s discuss the biggest drawbacks for a moment right now, they would be the absence of signed contracts from Steve Smith and Kevin Boss. These two key players with very important roles in the Giants offense may not be coming back. Neither players have signed their offers from the Giants, Smith would start on the PUP list anyway and Boss as of this writing is probably weighing the choice between Oakland and New York having just worked out for the Raiders last night.
Smith’s exit would be tragic, but he won’t be starting for the Giants week 1 anyway and Mario Manningham as the #2 and Domenik Hixon possibly as the #3 and slot man is a great option to see what he can do in a more pronounced role. Receiver is likely not going to be as much of a concern while Tight End certainly could be.
And while Boss would be a big loss to the team at 6’6″ and a usually good pair of hands especially in the red zone, his absence may force Kevin Gilbride and Eli Manning to better utilize options they’ve just signed but those they already have as well — TE Travis Beckum and FB Bear Pascoe. Beckum is supposedly having a great camp thus far, and although he’s characterized more as an H-Back he really is about the same size as the Colts TE Dallas Clark — and we all know how much Eli’s big brother relies on him as a target in that offense. This really and truly could be Beckum’s breakout year, and if Boss doesn’t come back to NY I might go as far as saying he’ll be a crucial part of the Giants offense this year with the expectation that he catches 50-60 balls and scores 5-7 TD’s. But back to the actual signings.
Linebacker Mark Herzlich is going to be an inspirational story, 60 minutes cameras are already following him around at practice. But the depth and competition he provides Goff, Boley, Sintim, Dillard, and Jones among others could be interesting to watch unfold. Jon Goff may end up being the starter at MLB, he may not be. Coughlin and Reese are already looking to this young LB group and seeing good things emerging so far in camp. The Giants could be set at LB, we’ll have to wait and see. For now it’s a B+ grade and I think given all that’s occurred this week it’s more than fair.