The Giants have spent the 2022 Free Agent (FA) signing period looking for bargains in the clearance and factory outlet equivalents of NFL players. This is what happens when a team is in salary cap hell. GM Joe Schoen has done a masterful job balancing player releases with low-budget signings and one-year “prove it” deals while staying below the salary cap.
Building an Offensive Line on the Cheap
With many position holes to fill on this team, Joe has spent significant effort filling out the offensive line. Six of the Giants’ free agent signings were linemen, including three 2021 starters for other teams. Guard/Center John Feliciano enters his eighth season as an experienced starter for both the Raiders and the Bills, especially as a starter at right guard for the Buffalo Bills the last three years. Feliciano can shift to Center to replace Nick Gates. Gates is still on the team but has a long road to recover from his severely broken leg against Washington early last season. Schoen’s top FA signing of 2022 so far is Guard Mark Glowinski, a six-season starter for the Seahawks and Colts. Glowinski comes to the Giants from the Colts’ vaunted offensive line. Today, the Giants signed Guard Max Garcia, another starting guard that adds more experience as an inside lineman most recently at Left Guard. With Left Tackle, Andrew Thomas, this potentially gives the Giants three to four solid starters in front of Daniel Jones. The remaining OL signings are viable linemen that can use this opportunity to compete for a starting job.
What these signings also indicate is that there is still an opening for a Right Tackle opposite LT Thomas. This 2022 draft has multiple highly graded tackles at the top of the class. Ikem Ekwonu, Evan Neal, and Charles Cross are the top tackles in this class. Ekwonu and Neal are also rated as two of the top seven prospects in this draft. The Giants have draft picks 5 and 7 on Day 1 next month. Are they positioned to take one of these tackles? That would give the team a serious set of powerful offensive line bookends for the next decade. And it would go a long way to protecting QB Daniel Jones. Yet, there are so many other needs as well…
The Giants have nine picks overall and five of the first 81 picks in this draft. While it is possible the Giants look to grab additional picks by trading back from the early pick 5 or pick 7, Joe Schoen confirmed that hasn’t been determined yet. He’s willing to listen to offers. Right now, the team is well-positioned to draft immediate impact players on both offense and defense. Speculation is the team also needs an Edge rusher or a Safety to complete a solid defense. Then there is the team’s desire to make sure Daniel Jones has the weapons at skill positions to give him the best chance to succeed. This draft is loaded with Wide Receivers, Tight Ends, and Running Backs. This leads me to one very important skill player under contract…
The Players That Weren’t Traded or Released
As soon as he was hired, Joe Schoen set a plan in motion to get under the salary cap. Easy cap savings would have come with a trade of RB Saquon Barkley and CB James Bradberry. Both players have been rumored to be on the trading block. However, Joe Schoen clarified his intentions with Barkley during a meeting with media at the current NFL Owners meetings. In addition, Schoen stated today the team doesn’t want to trade CB James Bradberry either. Scheon’s comments on both players are perhaps his concessions to his offensive-minded head coach and his defensive coordinator. Barkley can be key to the Giants’ offense and the success of Daniel Jones. Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale’s schemes rely on solid cover cornerbacks. Bradberry certainly fits that role. The Giants still need cap space though. Both of these veterans may see what Schoen wanted to avoid, renegotiated contracts that push cap hits into 2023 and beyond.
To take advantage of the wealth of draft picks, the Giants need to clear $15-20 million dollars in cap space. That’s what is needed to sign the Giants’ future stars. March free agency brings April draft decisions.