The New York Giants made several important roster moves in the past seven days. First, they traded two draft picks for Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree. I am a bit puzzled at why they would trade for Ogletree, who struggled while playing in Wade Phillips’ 3-4 defense last year. However, Ogletree has played well in the past and is the most talented linebacker the Giants have had since Antonio Pierce retired.
Next, the Giants made a few cuts. They released punter Brad Wing after he had a disastrous 2017 season. Last season, Wing finished dead last in net punting average, which is the most important statistic in measuring the effectiveness of a punter. Wing also shanked multiple punts in key situations in close games.
The Giants also released veteran cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who declined to take a pay cut. The move frees up $6.5 million in cap space, but leaves the Giants with a hole at cornerback. Last week, reports surfaced that indicated the Giants were going to try to move Rodgers-Cromartie to safety to compete with incumbent Darian Thompson for a starting job. Now, the Giants will be moving forward without Rodgers-Cromartie.
The new league year starts on March 14 at 4 p.m. At that time, players whose contracts expire become free agents, and teams can begin to negotiate with free agents. Here are some players the Giants could try to sign in the coming days:
Norwell is the clear top free agent target for the Giants. He is coming off of a season in which he was named First Team All-Pro and is entering the prime of his career. Norwell played for current Giants general manager Dave Gettleman with the Carolina Panthers. Gettleman signed Norwell as an undrafted free agent in 2014.
One outlet has reported that Norwell going to the Giants is a “done deal,” but there are going to be other teams interested in the star free agent guard. If a bidding war ensues, Norwell’s best offer could end up being in the $13 million per year range. If that happens, the Giants may find themselves out of the running for his services. For now, though, the Giants look to be the front-runner in the Andrew Norwell sweepstakes.
Hubbard started ten games at right tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2017. It was the 27-year-old Hubbard’s first major stint as an NFL starter. He is one of the best free agent tackles in what is a weak free agent class at the position.
The Giants currently have a hole at right tackle that needs to be filled. The team cut Bobby Hart, who started 21 games in three seasons, just before the end of the 2017 season. Furthermore, Justin Pugh, who has played at right tackle at times in his career, is a free agent and is likely to sign elsewhere. Hubbard, like Norwell, is entering the prime of his career and appears to be ready for the opportunity to be a full-time starter.
The release of Rodgers-Cromartie opens a hole at the cornerback position. The Giants cannot feel comfortable with Eli Apple and Janoris Jenkins as their starting cornerbacks next year, as they both created problems in the locker room in 2017. Additionally, backup Ross Cockrell, who had a solid 2017 season, is a free agent. The Giants need to add a cornerback in free agency to have some stability at the position going into 2018.
One name that is generating a lot of buzz is Eagles cornerback Patrick Robinson, who had a breakout year in 2017. However, Robinson is 30 years old and has played for four different teams in the past four seasons and is expected to re-sign in Philadelphia.
This leaves the Giants with some other options. Nickell Robey-Coleman had a good season with the LA Rams, but the Rams may have replaced him when they traded for Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib. They may not be able to retain Robey-Coleman, who could fill in the spot vacated by Rodgers-Cromartie on the Giants.
Another option would be to go after an older player such as Tramon WIlliams, who played with the Arizona Cardinals this past season. Williams had two interceptions in nine starts in 2017.
The Giants could also go after Corey Graham, who was a cornerback earlier in his career but is now a safety. He was a backup who helped the Eagles win the Super Bowl last year and is a great locker room presence. If the Giants sign Graham, he would compete with Thompson for the starting free safety job.
With Wing being cut, the Giants need a punter. The Giants currently have Austin Rehkow on their roster, but he has no NFL experience. He will likely compete with a veteran for the starting job.
Huber is a veteran punter who has had a solid career. He made the Pro Bowl in 2014 and has played his entire nine-year career with the Cincinnati Bengals. Before that, he played in college at Cincinnati. It seems unlikely that he would leave the Bengals, but the Giants should at least make a decent offer to him. After all, Huber is left-footed, and every team in the NFC East had a left-footed punter last season.
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