The New York Giants have made strides during the 2018 season and not just in the win column. After turning over the roster and retaining just 17 players from the 2017 season, it took time for things to gel, but they have been a competitive team for the second half of the regular season.
The Giants lost three road games in 2018 by one score in the final minute of the game (Carolina, Philadelphia, Indianapolis) and if they can start finishing games in 2019 they will once again be in play for the postseason.
This is especially true if first-year general manager Dave Gettleman’s second offseason is as impressive as his first. Gettleman found several core players (Will Hernandez, Saquon Barkley, B.J. Hill, Alec Ogletree, Nate Solder) and an even larger contingent of role players to fill out the 2018 roster.
Earlier this season, head coach Pat Shurmur hinted that the majority of the young Giants players contributing in games now will be back in 2019. However, it’s easy for a coach to say that and what else should we expect him to say?
Today, we’re breaking down every single Giants free agent this coming March during the 2019 offseason. We’ll look at each upcoming free agent, whether or not the Giants should re-sign them, and what that process entails.
Let’s dive right in! (Photo: USA TODAY Sports)Fortunately for the Giants, the breakout Pro Bowl kicker is an Exclusive Rights Free Agent. In the NFL, there are three different free agent designations. Landon Collins, for example, is set to become an unrestricted free agent. An unrestricted free agent is free to negotiate and sign with any other NFL team. The second kind of tag is RFA or restricted free agent. A restricted free agent can be assigned a free agent tender (one-year deal) by his original team, but he is free to negotiate a long-term contract with any other team. If the restricted free agent agrees to a long-term deal with another team, they can sign an offer sheet, but the original team has the final say with the ability to match the offer sheet. Lastly, an exclusive rights free agent, like Rosas, can be assigned a free agent tender, but he is NOT eligible to negotiate with other teams.
In other words, the Giants can assign Rosas a one-year tender that is salary cap-friendly and he has no option to negotiate a long-term deal for leverage elsewhere. The Giants will most likely opt to go this route. While they could also opt to re-sign Rosas to a long-term contract, it’s not in their best strategic interest to sign him to a long-term deal coming off a dominant Pro Bowl season when the other option is to re-sign him to a cheap one-year deal to make him prove he can do it again in 2019 first.
Incredible story for #Giants K Aldrick Rosas:2014: Tears ACL in NAIA Championship2015: Misses entire season2016: Enters draft, UDFA signs with Titans. Cut at final 53.2017: Signs with #nyg in Jan, struggles in 20172018: Pro Bowler#GiantsPride[READ: https://t.co/8yzK9FP8ne] pic.twitter.com/gmqYByJKVw
— Dan Schneier (@DanSchneierNFL) December 19, 2018
Rosas has been the NFL’s most dominant kicker in 2018 and the numbers support it. Following another perfect performance in Week 16, Rosas has connected on 30-of-31 field goal attempts through all but one game in his 2018 regular season. Rosas has gone 5-for-5 on field goals in the 40-49-yard range and 4-of-5 on field goals in the 50-plus-yard range. Rosas’ only miss of the 2018 season came on a 50-plus-yard attempt against the Eagles in Week 6 on Thursday Night Football in a game where he played in a short week through a quad injury that held him out of practice all week.
Rosas has connected on 96.8 percent of his field goal attempts, and if that percentage holds after the final game, he will break the all-time Giants field goal percentage record currently held by Josh Brown who connected on 30-of-32 field goals (93.8 percent). (Photo: Elsa, Getty)Collins is an unrestricted free agent which means the Giants have a few options. The Giants can let him walk, they can re-sign him to a long-term contract, or they can assign Collins the franchise tag or the transition tag. The Giants have used the franchise tag in the past, most recently on defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, but they use it in a different way than teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers (see: Le’Veon Bell drama). Drawing from the Pierre-Paul example, the Giants used the franchise tag on him as a way to prevent him from hitting the open market. Once he was tagged, Pierre-Paul was not eligible to negotiate with other teams and the Giants eventually came to terms with him on a long-term deal.
We expect the team to follow a similar process with Collins this offseason. Once the Giants and Collins come to terms on a long-term contract, we expect the deal to fall within the range of the six-year, $78 million contract safety Eric Berry signed with the Kansas City Chiefs in February of 2017. However, now two years later, with a leaguewide salary cap that has since risen, Collins could get a slight bump in the average annual salary from Berry’s deal on a five-year contract.
The Giants were very high on Halapio after an impressive training camp and preseason and he followed it up by grading out as the team’s best offensive lineman before suffering a season-ending injury in Week 2, according to Pro Football Focus. The analysts at PFF were not the only ones who saw something in Halapio’s game. Shortly after the injury and then again during the Giants’ bye week, head coach Pat Shurmur name-dropped Halapio as an important piece and a big loss due to injury. The Giants like Halapio’s toughness and size at the pivot and there’s a good chance the re-sign him. If he is brought back, Halapio will compete to start at center in 2019.
Halapio is an exclusive rights free agent which means the Giants will have the opportunity to sign him to a one-year team-friendly contract tender and no other team will be able to negotiate a long-term deal with him. (Photo: Brad Penner, USA TODAY Sports)Pulley took over for Halapio once the Giants’ experiment of having John Greco in the starting lineup failed them and he never looked back. Pulley’s addition to the lineup is an underrated factor in why the Giants’ offensive line improved following the bye week. Pulley missed the Giants’ Week 16 loss to the Indianapolis Colts and his absence was notable. In his place, Greco was overpowered at the point of attack at the center position.
The Giants may look to start anew at center with an upgrade via free agency or the draft, and in that scenario, they are likely to re-sign only one of Halapio and Pulley. However, they may also decide the most cost-effective strategy is to re-sign Halapio and Pulley to let them compete for the starting job. The Giants have only so many resources available to them in relation to their salary cap space and what they can acquire via the draft/free agency — they might not want to spend a major asset at center.
Pulley is a restricted free agent and the Giants can sign him to a low tender if they choose. Pulley has the freedom to negotiate a long-term contract with another team if the Giants do assign a restricted free agent tender to him. If he is signed to a long-term contract with another NFL team, it will be in the form of an offer sheet the Giants can match if they choose to. Corey Coleman may have finally found a home in the NFL with the New York Giants.
It has been a rocky season for the former 2016 first-round draft pick who was traded by the Cleveland Browns back in August to the Buffalo Bills. He was released from the Bills and he signed with the New England Patriots for a brief stint before being released to make room when they traded for Josh Gordon. Coleman was resigned to the Patriots practice squad, released from there and signed shortly after to the Giants practice squad. Less than a week later, the Giants signed Coleman to their 53-man roster.
About a month and a half later, it’s starting to feel like Coleman has found a home and the Giants have found a 24-year-old wide receiver prospect they should be excited about.
“It feels good to be out there contributing and really just playing my game, with the coaches believing in me, Eli believing in me like that, and the guys in the receiving corps helping me out,” Coleman said earlier this week, via Pat Leonard of Daily News.
“I’m a fighter,” Coleman added. “I’m gonna keep on fighting. (This offseason) was humbling, but it’s good. God puts you through tests in your life, and it’s really how you respond. I love this game, so I’m gonna keep on working, staying humble and everything else will work out.”
Signing and sticking with Coleman was one of the most underrated and impressive moves by first-year general manager Dave Gettleman. After the Giants bye week, Coleman was promoted to the kick returner role where he immediately impressed with several big returns, including one that was called back by penalty. His role began to grow as a wide receiver culminating in a semi-breakout Week 14 performance during the Giants’ 40-16 win over the Washington Redskins.
Coleman drew a 25-yard pass interference penalty after beating his defender in man coverage for what would have been a long gain. Later, quarterback Eli Manning came right back to Coleman on a go route down the left sideline — same as the pass interference play. This time Manning dropped the pass right into the bucket and Coleman caught the 30-yard reception to get the Giants into the red zone.
The #Giants deserve credit for giving a chance to and sticking with Corey Coleman. From everything I’ve read/seen he wants to take advantage of this chance and he’s got OBJ in his corner. They plan to train together this offseason. Money throw here too from the NFL’s “worst QB”?? pic.twitter.com/SpzqxMlpeO
— Dan Schneier (@DanSchneierNFL) December 14, 2018
Coleman finished with two receptions for 43 yards against the Redskins but more importantly, he played a season-high 42 offensive snaps. Head coach Pat Shurmur made good on his promise from a month back.
“He’ll get in and he’s a very talented young man,” Shurmur said back in November. “I’ve gained a fast appreciation for him. Very energetic, really into it, trying to learn everything, but again, much like RJ McIntosh when he came back he was a little behind. We’re just trying to get him going. The good thing about a receiver or really any skill on offense, you can use them as sort of a role player until he can handle the full load and that’s what we’ll do.”
The former top-15 pick has earned praise from Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham for his work ethic and eagerness to learn and get better.
“I think that speaks about his character more than anything,” Beckham said, via Leonard of Daily News. “This is a crazy business that we’re in, and to be able to handle some of these things is not easy. It’s not easy to go through what we go through. But (Coleman) is still working on everything, and he’s saying how much he wants to train this offseason. Just his mindset is he wants to get better. This coming offseason he wants to do more and more.”
Coleman has 4.37 40-yard dash speed and he adds a brand new element to the Giants offense. If the Giants can get him up to speed and playing a majority of offensive snaps, the next step is to continue using him as a vertical threat. During the Giants’ most recent win in Week 14, Coleman made a major impact on the game on two vertical go routes. If Coleman can find that consistency and chemistry with quarterback Eli Manning, opposing defenses will have to align completely different before and after the snap — this will open up more space underneath for players like Beckham, Sterling Shepard, Engram, and Saquon Barkley in the passing game.
Lance Zierlein of NFL.com pinpointed Coleman’s ability to win in the vertical passing game during his pre-draft profile on NFL.com:
“Dangerous vertical talent with the ability to get over the top of defenders who fail to recognize his blazing quickness off the line of scrimmage,” Zierlein wrote, via NFL.com. “Coleman can get instant separation to create favorable passing windows and is one of the top playmakers in this draft. Coleman’s issues with drops near the middle of the field could be a concern if teams see him next as a slot receiver due to his lack of size. Regardless, he can line up outside and win and he offers immediate punt return help.”
Coleman will become a restricted free agent after the 2018 season concludes and the Giants could re-sign him to a one-year tender in the $2-4 million range depending on what round they assign a contract tender to him. Other teams will have the opportunity to sign him to a long-term deal the Giants can then match if they place.
Giant jelly ?? @Giants pic.twitter.com/B5JxQ6QCl0
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) December 9, 2018
The Giants experiment taking converted cornerback Curtis Riley and making him their starting free safety hasn’t panned out exactly as planned. Riley has not been nearly as bad as advertised on Giants Twitter, and as he appears to be from the broadcast angle, but he has consistently displayed some issues that are troubling. For starters, Riley has had issues with the angles he takes to the ball carries from the deep safety position. Riley has shown solid instincts in pass coverage, but he has also struggled as a blitzer and as a tackler (both as a blitzer and in the run game).
Riley has four interceptions through his first 15 games as the Giants free safety.
Ultimately, Riley projects more as a reserve than a starter moving forward. The Giants will have to decide if he’s worth re-signing to a long-term contract because he will likely be looking for one as an unrestricted free agent. Riley has played 97.4 percent of the Giants’ defensive snaps through the first 15 weeks of the 2018 season, according to OverTheCap.com. (Photo: Tim Fuller, USA TODAY Sports)Webb is another player in the secondary who has played the vast majority of defensive snaps for the Giants in 2018 but is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. After the Giants made the decision to trade cornerback Eli Apple, Webb has taken over as the starting cornerback in base defense alongside Janoris Jenkins. Webb has played 91 percent of the Giants’ defensive snaps, but he has struggled mightily.
According to Pro Football Focus, Webb ranks No. 61 among all 77 NFL cornerbacks who have played at least 50 percent of the team’s defensive snaps in 2018. While Webb adds value in the locker room and seems to be a good fit for the culture they are trying to build under head coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Dave Gettleman, it is likely the team looks to upgrade at cornerback alongside Jenkins in 2019.
Don’t forget — the Giants are counting on 2018 Supplemental Draft third-rounder Sam Beal to emerge as a key contributor in 2019. Jamon Brown (Photo: Cary Edmonson, USA TODAY Sports)Brown received a lot of fanfare after arriving on the scene with the Giants in Week 10 following the team’s decision to claim him off of waivers in Week 9. It’s true the Giants offensive line went on to have it’s best five-game stretch of the season — and arguably a very dominant stretch of play by league standards — following Brown’s arrival. However, Brown was not the driving force in the offensive line turning things around. The driving factors in the turnaround on the Giants offensive line was the vastly improved play of left tackle Nate Solder and left guard Will Hernandez. Solder needed time to get used to a different blocking scheme than he’s ever played in, protecting a different quarterback, and all while playing alongside a rookie. Hernandez needed to get used to the NFL after playing at a non-Power Conference in college.
Brown has been solid, specifically stronger in the run game than in pass protection, but he has struggled with the latter. Brown is set to become an unrestricted free agent and the Giants have already allocated dead salary cap space to the position in 2019 after releasing Patrick Omameh halfway through the first season of the three-year, $15 million contract they signed him to last offseason. The Giants will have to decide what kind of priority they want to put on offensive line continuity with changes likely set to come at the center and right tackle positions.
Another surprise impact player for the Giants has been ED Josh Mauro. Since returning in Week 5, Mauro has been the #3 edge defender in the NFL against the run with an 81.6 Run-Defense Grade.#GiantsPride pic.twitter.com/VvDHLEXzOr
— Matt Stopsky (@PFF_Stopsky) November 15, 2018
After serving his four-game suspension to start the 2018 regular season, Mauro has seen his role greatly increase over the 11 games after that. Mauro has essentially operated as a starting defensive lineman following the team’s decision to trade Damon Harrison and kick defensive end Dalvin Tomlinson over to the nose tackle position. Mauro flashes less frequently as a pass rusher than a run defender, but he plays with the passion and violence, specifically in the run game, that head coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Dave Gettleman want from all of their players in the trenches.
Mauro knows defensive coordinator James Bettcher’s scheme inside-out after spending the first four years of his career with him in Arizona and we wouldn’t be surprised if the Giants offer the unrestricted free agent a multi-year deal this offseason. (Photo: Tim Heitman, USA TODAY Sports)Latimer signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Giants this past offseason to prove that he can play wide receiver at the NFL level. We already knew Latimer could dominate on special teams — he earned that reputation during his rookie contract in Denver. Latimer made it through the first five games of the season before getting injured. He recently made his return from injured reserve straight to the Giants starting lineup (in a game where Odell Beckham was injured) in Week 16.
The Giants now have one final game to figure out if he’s worth re-signing as a player who can contribute both at wide receiver and on special teams or if it’s time to focus instead on upgrading the wide receiver position via free agency and/or the draft. (Photo: Matthew Emmons, USA TODAY Sports)Wynn has had the opposite season of Josh Mauro. Unlike Mauro, Wynn got off to a hot start with a stretch of games in the early part of the 2018 season that made him look like the team’s most consistent defensive lineman outside of Damon Harrison. Wynn’s production and playing time have decreased over the second half of the 2018 season and he has now played 36.3 percent of the team’s defensive snaps through the first 15 games.
Wynn is set to become an unrestricted free agent and will face similar odds to Mauro when it comes to whether or not the team will re-sign him. We give Mauro the edge over Wynn as of now. (Photo: Elsa, Getty)Shepard has emerged as one of the key leaders (alongside Michael Thomas) of a Giants special teams unit that has improved from No. 32 in 2017 to No. 4 overall in 2018, through the first 15 games, according to Football Outsiders. In addition to the impact Shepard has made on special teams, he has served as the de facto No. 3 wide receiver whenever necessary and has even made some huge plays on offense. When the Giants tried to mount a comeback against the Carolina Panthers earlier this season, quarterback Eli Manning found Shepard on a deep post to set up the go-ahead touchdown. Later in the season, Shepard caught a 49-yard touchdown pass from Odell Beckham Jr. that provided the team a spark in a victory over the Chicago Bears.
Shepard will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Penny was signed in the first half of the season to help the Giants find more diversity in their offensive personnel. The former running back who has converted to fullback offers a unique skill set. Penny can run the football, he can catch the football coming out of the backfield, and he is improving as a blocker. The Giants have used him in all three phases during the 2018 season, however, he is not on the field often because the team doesn’t often use 21 personnel (featuring a fullback). Penny has played 11.3 percent of the offensive snaps in 2018 through the first 15 games.
Penny is an exclusive rights free agent so the Giants can re-sign him to a one-year contract tender if they choose to. (Photo: USA TODAY Sports) Antonio Hamilton was arguably the MVP of the New York Giants’ underrated and vastly improved special teams unit in 2018 before being placed on injured reserve a few weeks back.
rior to the injury, Hamilton had emerged as a workhorse on special teams where he played the most snaps for the Giants and where he was a highly productive contributor — specifically on punt coverage.
Hamilton originally signed a three-year, $1.62 million contract with the Oakland Raiders as an undrafted free agent out of South Carolina State back in 2016. Hamilton was a core special teamer and played snaps sparingly at the cornerback position during each of his of his first two seasons in Oakland. The Raiders waived the 25-year-old defensive back at the start of the 2018 season and first-year Giants general manager Dave Gettleman immediately put a claim in for Hamilton.
Gettleman’s goal was to retool the Giants special teams in 2018 by adding special teams aces like Hamilton to the back-end of his 53-man roster and he accomplished as much.
According to Football Outsider’ DVOA, the Giants have the No. 3 ranked special teams unit in 2018. The Giants rank No. 3 overall in punt coverage and No. 2 overall in kick coverage, per DVOA. The credit belongs to players like Hamilton, Michael Thomas, and several other free agent and draft acquisitions from the 2018 offseason who have contributed to this ranking.
In addition to the players, first-year Giants special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey has done an excellent job leading this group. McGaughey’s Carolina Panthers special teams unit finished No. 7 overall in Football Outsiders’ DVOA ratings for all 32 special teams units during the 2017 season. The Panthers also finished with the No. 10 overall special teams rating in Rick Gosselin’s annual and extensive special teams rankings that can be found here. In those same rankings, the Giants ranked No. 32 overall during the 2017 season with the worst unit overall in several categories including extra point percentage, most opponents blocked kicks, fewest punts inside the opponents’ 20-yard line, among others.
Football Outsiders’ DVOA assigned the Giants with the dead last special teams unit in 2017 — they ranked No. 32 overall. They have gone from No. 32 overall to No. 3 overall in special teams DVOA in just one season.
Hamilton will be a restricted free agent this offseason and the Giants have the option of re-signing him for the lowest restricted free agent tender. If the Giants do opt to re-sign Hamilton as a restricted free agent, they will likely assign him that lowest tender — in 2019 it is projected to be around $2 million against the 2019 salary cap which is expected to rise to around $190 million overall. Edwards is another intriguing free agent defensive lineman for the Giants to decide on this offseason. Although he has only played 22.8 percent of the team’s defensive snaps through Week 15, Edwards has flashed as both a pass rusher on run defender on our review of the team’s All-22 coaches film. Edwards has played both defensive end and defensive tackle for the Giants during the 2018 season — his versatility could be the deciding factor as the team looks to make a final decision on who to re-sign from Mauro, Wynn, and Edwards on the defensive line.
Edwards will be an unrestricted free agent. (Photo: Mark Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports)Greco entered the 2018 season as an under-the-radar offensive lineman who earned a strong grade from Pro Football Focus during his start at right guard with the Giants in their 2017 regular season finale against the Washington Redskins. Now, 15 weeks later, we have a better idea of why Greco was out of football before the Giants signed him in 2017. Greco’s play strength is a serious concern and he has struggled in starts for the Giants at both center and right guard in 2018. Greco can move well in space and help the team on plays that fit his skill set, but he does not appear to have the play strength to compete at a high level.
Greco is an unrestricted free agent, and despite the fact that he’s played 50.8 percent of the team’s offensive snaps through the first 15 games, we do not expect them to re-sign him. Simonson has seen his role increase over the course of the season due to an injury to tight end Evan Engram and the Giants’ focus on jumpstarting the run game. Simonson has played in 12 personnel (two tight end sets) for the Giants alongside both Rhett Ellison and Engram and he has made a strong impact as a run blocker. Simonson has also made the most of his limited targets in the passing game. In Week 17, with Ellison likely to miss the regular season finale with a concussion, Simonson will once again play a key role.
Simonson has played 26.8 percent of the team’s offensive snaps through 15 games and he is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. “>247Sports