The New York Giants have taken a brand new approach when it comes to their salary cap so far during the early days of the 2020 free agency legal tampering period. In past years, the Giants have prorated their free agent signings (in-house and from other teams) with a small roster bonus upon signing. Under the old strategy, the Giants assigned smaller cap hits to these players in the first year of their contract with guaranteed money spread out throughout the duration of the contract (that would result in dead cap if the players were cut in future years). This offseason, they signed several free agents to shorter contracts (three years to be exact for their two highest-priced signings) and they handed big roster bonuses out with each contract — front-loading the cap for the 2020 season. This will give the Giants flexibility to release these players later in their contract if they do not live up to their price tag.
After taking on nearly $30 million in “dead cap” for the 2019 season (as a result of trading Odell Beckham Jr., Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison, and Eli Apple), almost all of it (with the exception of the remaining guarantees on Janoris Jenkins’ contract) is off the books heading into free agency this offseason. The time to find franchise players to build around Jones and Saquon Barkley is now and that’s exactly what the Giants have done in the early stages of free agency — specifically retooling their defense.
First-year head coach Joe Judge will make the jump from New England Patriots special teams coordinator to Giants head coach, but to the surprise of many, he will do it under the watch of general manager Dave Gettleman. This development came as a surprise to some because Gettleman was hired at the same time as Shurmur. However, if you dig back through ownership’s original plan after hiring Gettleman, and the complete roster turnover the team has undergone in the first two years (Giants should have approximately $85 million in 2020 cap space after early offseason cuts), it’s easier to understand why the oft-criticized general manager will get another chance.
However, the transformation of the Giants’ roster for the 2020 season (and beyond) hasn’t gotten started just yet. Between the upcoming 2020 NFL Combine, the free agency period soon after, and the 2020 NFL Draft, the Giants roster will look a lot different than it does now. As we move through the entire offseason, this hub — offseason central — will aim to serve as a landing point for all things related to the Giants offseason.
Below, we will break down the latest news, keep a free agent scorecard, and break down all offseason moves by the Giants as they happen. Let’s kick things off by looking at the key upcoming dates on the Giants’ offseason schedule.
Key upcoming dates
- March 18: The new league year begins and NFL free agency is officially underway.
- March 29 through April 1: The NFL’s Annual League Meeting in Palm Beach, Florida takes place. This will likely provide an opportunity for fans to hear from their new head coach and potentially also Gettleman as well.
- April 6: Clubs that have hired a new head coach may begin their offseason workout programs (one week earlier than those teams with a returning coach). Based on Judge’s introductory press conference, you can be sure the Giants will take advantage of this.
- Mid-April: The NFL will release the 2020 regular season schedule.
- April 23 through April 25: The NFL draft takes place. The Giants are missing their third-round pick as part of the Williams trade, but they are projected to receive a compensatory draft pick in the third-round range as a result of former New York safety Landon Collins signing a lucrative long-term contract with the Washington Redskins last offseason.
- May 1 through May 4: Teams may elect to hold their three-day rookie minicamp and the Giants are expected to host it during this time frame.
*The Giants will also hold OTAs and one mandatory minicamp during several weeks in June followed by a roughly six-week break in the action before the start of training camp in late July. Final dates to be determined.
Free Agent Scorecard
Restricted free agents:
Jon Halapio, offensive center (not tendered)
Aldrick Rosas, kicker (Round 2 tender at one year, $3.2 million)
Eli Penny, fullback (re-signed for two years, $2.2 million)
The Giants had an interesting group of restricted free agents this offseason. Halapio was the Giants’ Week 1 starter at center and played the vast majority of snaps at the position during the 2019 season, but after a season-ending injury late in the year, the team has opted not to assign a contract tender to their former starting center. Look for Halapio to have a chance to latch on with the Giants later in July before training camp, but he will have to earn a roster spot. The Giants assigned a second-round tender to Rosas which makes sense considering he was the NFC’s 2018 first team All-Pro kicker before his production fell off a cliff in 2019. As for Penny, the Giants brought him back on a two-year deal and they obviously see a fit for him as a fullback in new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett’s system.
*Restricted free agents will have to be tendered by the Giants in order for them to be on the roster in 2020. The Giants can assign a number of different tenders on their restricted free agents (original round tender, second-round tender, first-round tender, etc). Each tender comes with a higher 2020 salary. Those numbers have not yet been determined by the NFL.
Unrestricted in-house free agents
Leonard Williams, defensive lineman (franchise tagged for one year, $16.1 million)
Markus Golden, edge rusher
Mike Remmers, offensive tackle
David Mayo, inside linebacker (re-signed for three years, $8.4 million)
Michael Thomas, safety
Cody Latimer, wide receiver
Cody Core, wide receiver (re-signed for two years, $4.7 million)
Corey Coleman, wide receiver
Antonio Hamilton, defensive back
The key name for the Giants among their unrestricted free agents is Williams. After sending their 2020 third-round draft pick — a top 70 pick overall — in an already lost season — for a contract-year defensive lineman — all eyes will be on the next step for New York. Will Gettleman re-sign Williams to a long-term contract as one of the highest-paid defensive linemen in the NFL? As of now, the Giants have simply assigned the franchise tag to lock Williams in for the 2020 season. However, they will have some time now to come to terms with Williams on a long-term contract.
If you just look at the box score — and specifically the sack statistic — Golden had a breakout 2019 season and should be paid like one of the top pass rushers in the NFL. Unfortunately, a deeper dive into the All-22 game film shows a player whose sacks came from play design, hustle, and against weaker offensive linemen more times than not. Golden bet on himself when he signed a one-year prove it deal with the Giants last offseason and he will now leverage his high 2019 sack count on an open market desperate for pass rushers. So far, the market has been quiet for Golden in the first days of free agency’s legal tampering period and the Giants have since added a free agent at his position (more on that below in the updates section).
Unrestricted free agent signings from other teams
James Bradberry, cornerback (signed for three years, $45 million)
Blake Martinez, linebacker (signed for three years, $30 million)
Levine Toilolo, tight end (signed for two years, $6.2 million)
Kyler Fackrell, outside linebacker (signed for one year, $4.6 million)
Antoine Bethea, safety (team option declined)
Alec Ogletree, linebacker
Kareem Martin, linebacker
Eli Manning, quarterback
Rhett Ellison, tight end
2020 NFL Draft picks
- Round 1: N.Y. Giants
- Round 2: N.Y. Giants
- Round 3: N.Y. Giants*
- Round 4: N.Y. Giants
- Round 5: N.Y. Giants
- Round 6: N.Y. Giants
- Round 7: N.Y. Giants, New Orleans, N.Y. Giants*, N.Y. Giants*
The Giants received three compensatory picks, one in Round 3 and two in Round 1. They traded their original third-round pick in the Leonard Williams deal.
Rumors, reports, and updates
Giants don’t pick up the team option on Antoine Bethea
Wednesday, March 18: In a move that many expected to come to fruition, the Giants decided not to pick up safety Antoine Bethea’s team option. The decision to move on from Bethea freed up an additional $2.75 million in salary cap space for the Giants, according to The Athletic’s Dan Duggan.
Giants sign outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell
Tuesday, March 17: The Giants landed another former Packers linebacker in Fackrell on a reported one-year, $4.6 million contract, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Fackrell is a high-upside, and low-risk signing by the Giants who are hoping to strike gold on a prove-it contract with an outside linebacker/edge rusher like they did last offseason with Markus Golden. Fackrell racked up 10.5 sacks during the 2018 season when he was coached by new Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. In 2019, Fackrell fell behind on the depth chart after the Packers signed outside linebackers Preston and Za’Darious Smith to massive contracts before using their first-round pick on edge rusher Rashan Gary. However, in 2019, he racked up a 16.1% pressure rate on just 193 snaps rushing the passer, per Next Gen stats. For comparison’s sake, in-house Giants edge rusher Lorenzo Carter finished with the same number of total pressures on nearly double the pass-rushing snaps. There is untapped potential here for sure.
Giants sign linebacker Blake Martinez
Tuesday, March 17: Just minutes after the clock struck midnight on the first day of the legal tampering period, it was reported the Giants came to terms with former Packers linebacker Blake Martinez on a three-year contract. Martinez, a team captain and leader, played under current Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham when he was an assistant coach with the Packers in 2018.
Giants sign cornerback James Bradberry
Monday, March 16: For a little while, it felt like the Giants would sit out the first day of free agency, but that changed quickly. The Giants had a plan to address finding a boundary cornerback and an inside linebacker immediately during the 2020 free agent tampering period. While it was reported the Giants were one of the finalists for cornerback Byron Jones, the ultimately lost out to a Miami Dolphins team who signed him to a record-setting deal (also benefiting from Florida tax laws). They landed their likely No. 2 option in Bradberry, a former Dave Gettleman draft pick (during his tenure as Panthers general manager), but no worries, because he brings what the defense didn’t have in 2019 — a boundary cornerback who can shadow No. 1 wide receivers (specifically in three-by-one sets where he is on an island against an opposing team’s No. 1). Bradberry is long (6-foot-1), he has size (212 pounds), and he’s physical at the catch point and in the run game..
Giants are at the top of Clowney’s wishlist
Friday, March 6:, top free agent edge pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney wanted to get a head start on so he has created a wishlist of teams he wants to play for. Believe it or not, the Giants are atop Clowney’s wishlist. According to the report, Clowney is seeking between $22-23 million annually on his next contract and that would make him among the highest-paid players in the NFL.
With several years remaining on the rookie contracts of Jones and Barkley, no massive contracts on the books past the 2021 season, and nearly $80 million in cap space, the Giants should be open to the idea of signing a player like Clowney to a long-term contract. The Giants’ defense needs a playmaker in the worst way. Clowney has finished as a top-10 EDGE defender, according to Pro Football Focus, in consecutive seasons, in two different systems (with two different teams) in large part due to his run defense grade. However, that cap space might be best reserved for another free agent — like cornerback Byron Jones — who has graded out higher (respectively) at his position. Jones has also only missed one game in his career due to injury. The same cannot be said for Clowney. Ultimately, Clowney could serve as a fallback option for the Giants if they lose out on a bidding war for Jones.
Giants exercise contract option for Tanney
Tuesday, March 3: The Giants like the role backup quarterback Alex Tanney played in the quarterback room during the development of quarterback Daniel Jones in his rookie season and he will now be given a chance to compete to be the No. 2 quarterback in 2020 (after serving as the No. 3, behind Jones and Eli Manning, in 2019). According to ESPN’s Field Yates, the Giants have exercised the option in Tanney’s contract for the 2020 season. However, this does not guarantee him a roster spot. Based on the structure of Tanney’s deal, the Giants can still opt to release him at some point this offseason, and it would result in a minimal dead cap hit. Even after exercising this option, the Giants are very likely to sign or draft another quarterback to compete this offseason with Tanney and serve as the No. 2 behind Jones.
Giants, Yannick have mutual interest
Monday, March 2: NFL free agency is just days from getting underway and the Giants are reportedly in the market from a top pass rusher. Below, we cited a report from earlier this offseason about the Giants’ interest in Jadeveon Clowney. Jeff Kerr recently named thefor pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue, and according to early reports, there is a mutual interest between the two sides. Of course, there’s one major problem — the Jaguars are reportedly .
Lee could be interested in joining Garrett and the Giants
Friday, February 28: Veteran inside linebacker Sean Lee is set to become a free agent this offseason, and while his ultimate goal is to re-sign with the Cowboys, that might not be possible. Dallas first has to attend to the impending free agencies of Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, and Byron Jones. If Lee can’t get a deal done with Dallas, he will reportedly consider signing with the Giants in free agency and reuniting with former Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett (who is now the offensive coordinator for New York)..
Giants could be interested in Clowney
Thursday, February 27: As the combine continues to roll in, the buzz (rumors, reports, etc) grows bigger with such a wide variety of NFL executives and coaches gathered in one location. Earlier this offseason, Seahawks GM John Schneider confirmed Seattle would not place the franchise tag on top free agent pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney. According to ESPN’s Josina Anderson, Clowney would like to re-sign with the Seahawks, but if that can’t happen, he could draw interest from the Giants and Colts in free agency.on this report.
Ogletree, Martin become the first cap casualties
Wednesday, February 26: The Giants were already slated to enter the 2020 offseason with(nearly $62 million) and that number just got bigger. On Wednesday, the Giants decided to release inside linebacker (and former team captain) Alec Ogletree and outside linebacker Kareem Martin. After cutting Ogletree and Martin, the Giants have . As it stands today after these moves, the Giants have the sixth-most cap space of all 32 teams. Neither of these moves is very surprising. Ogletree has struggled in one-on-one coverage where he is a liability in the passing game, in addition to when the ball is run right at him. Where he has helped the Giants since coming over from the Rams via trade is in his leadership (he was the captain of the defense and called the plays) and in his ability to clean up plays sideline to sideline. The latter trait dropped off in an injury-plagued 2019 season. As for Martin, an injury derailed his 2019 season, but he was, for the most part, a free agent bust. Martin’s best trait was his ability to set the edge in the run game, but the Giants never got much from his as a pass rusher. Now that James Bettcher is out as defensive coordinator, Martin’s release was a matter of when and not if.
Judge refuses to talk up any players, including Daniel Jones
Tuesday, February 25: At the combine, Giants head coach Joe Judge and general manager Dave Gettleman spoke to the media. After refusing to name-drop second-year quarterback Daniel Jones during his introductory presser earlier this offseason, Judge once again declined to provide the Giants beat reporters a fluffy quote they could turn into a headline — this later led to a “will the Giants trade Daniel Jones” headline or two — and speculation that Judge could be interested in a changing of guard at the position. We can end that speculation now., the key takeaway from what Judge said is that every Giants player will enter 2020 with a clean slate — there is no value in leaning on anything that happened during the 2019 season or before that. Instead of talking up several players for the next several months, Judge has opted to stay quiet, in hopes that he can provide a true even playing field for the 2020 roster when offseason workouts begin later this offseason. The Giants brought back Gettleman — the same general manager who fell in “full bloom love” with Jones before turning the keys over to the quarterback in Week 3 of his rookie season. Jones went on to nearly eclipse the rookie single-season touchdowns record despite missing multiple games with a high-ankle sprain. That’s all you need to know.
Could Witten reunite with Garrett on the Giants?
Tuesday, February 18: Although some expected future Hall of Fame tight end Jason Witten to retire this offseason, it doesn’t appear that he’s ready to hang up his cleats just yet. As, Witten realizes that his time with the Cowboys might be over, but that doesn’t mean the end of his career. The next question people might ask is where Witten might play and we can’t think of an easier transition for him than to reunite with his champion — the man partially responsible for talking him out of retirement — Jason Garrett. In 2020, Garrett will serve as the Giants’ offensive coordinator. The team has been searching (and failing; see: Rhett Ellison) to find an inline tight end to compliment move tight end Evan Engram for a while now. Witten could be a short-term solution.
Leonard Williams reaches out to Richard Seymour
Tuesday, February 18: Williams and NFL legend Richard Seymour have in common the fact that they are both interior defensive linemen who were tasked by their respective teams with more pass-rushing responsibilities than your normal interior defensive lineman. The difference? Seymour did an excellent job of actually getting to the quarterback and converting pressure (hits, hurries) into sacks during his career and Williams has struggled in that regard.this offseason to help him alter the trajectory of his career. Williams is still just 25 years old.