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EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – The 2021 season was a disaster for the New York Giants. They spent essentially the offseason acting as a serious challenger – and spent big money on free agents like wide receiver Kenny Golladay, cornerback Adoree ‘Jackson and tight-end Kyle Rudolph – only to finish 4-13. Quarterback Daniel Jones did little to prove he is the long-term solution to the game’s most important position in what most considered a make-or-break year. Jones will return, but his future and how the Giants handle the position going forward remains an ongoing work under a new regime.
Former general manager Dave Gettleman, who was short of space, spent the past season restructuring deals to keep the Giants below the salary cap. He has left new general manager Joe Schoen with a mess to clean up.
Schoen has already written and said he wanted to clear $ 40 million in ceilings and build through the draft. He also said the Giants will not be big players this year in the free agency as they get their finances in order.
But they have two top-10 picks and nine picks combined in the draft.
Expected salary cap: $ -10,512,631
Top Free Agents: TE Evan Engram, S Jabrill Peppers, OLB Lorenzo Carter, G Will Hernandez, OT Nate Solder
Potential cutback candidates: The money must come from somewhere, and cornerback James Bradberry, who is scheduled to count the absurd $ 21.9 million against the ceiling, saves them $ 12 million. Receiving Sterling Shepard is also expensive ($ 12.5 million vs. cap) and will likely not be ready for the start of the season as he retrains a torn Achilles tendon.
What you need to know: The Giants have some big decisions to make this offseason. They have until May to pick up the fifth year option on Jones’ rookie contract. It seems likely they will pass as he has yet to show any real consistency in his first three seasons as a starting quarterback, and that would mean guaranteeing him $ 20 plus million for 2023. It seems inevitable that they let Jones play it out this year and if he has a great season it will give a good problem.
The fifth-year opportunity being picked up to drive back Saquon Barkley is a situation Schoen inherits. That guarantees Barkley $ 7.2 million for this season. There has already been speculation that it might be in the best interest of the team and the player to move him into an off-season trade. That would give Barkley a fresh start and give the Giants some more financial flexibility.
Best off-season scenario: The shoe fills gaps on the offensive line with smart bargain purchases. He hits big on both top-10 picks, and coach Brian Daboll is able to work his magic on Jones. Suddenly, the Giants have a competent offensive and will be in shape to be players again next year in free agency as they look like a well-run playoff candidate.
Worst case offseason scenario: The Giants are taking it on the chin out of season. They tossed several of their best players – perhaps Bradberry, Shepard and center-back Blake Martinez – to fend for themselves financially. They are not players in free agency, and 2022 looks like another tough season before Schoen gets them back on track.
Early look at the NFL draft from ESPN analyst Jordan Reid: With two choices in the top 10, the Giants could go in several directions in the 2022 draft. The offensive and defensive lines are the biggest areas of concern. Using both choices could be options, as improvements in the trenches should be at the top of the list of priorities for the Schoen.
Top needs: EDGE, OL, LB
Top picks: Nr. 5 and 7