One good thing about the Giants' miserable season and their recent run of (mostly) futility: They don't have a lot of free agents on their roster that they absolutely must sign.
They do have 25 players approaching free agency, though, and a little more than a month to make some decisions. Here's a look at all their free agents-to-be, and their prospects of returning or finding potential riches somewhere else around the league:
Unrestricted free agents
OL Justin Pugh -- He's the best player on this list, but he's made it clear he wants to get paid. And given how weak the offensive line class is in free agency, he'll have plenty of suitors, even coming off a back injury. He'd be a nice, versatile piece the Giants could build around as they fix their line. They may try, but the cost to keep him could be too much.
C Weston Richburg -- He was not playing well, even before a concussion ended his season in Week 4. He's been a solid starter, though, which means he'll have teams after him, too. The Giants may prefer to keep Brett Jones at center since he filled in admirably for most of last year.
OL D.J. Fluker -- Once he came in last season, the Giants' run game played better, and they'd surely like to keep him. Again, the issue will be cost. In a weak market he could be in demand. If the price is reasonable he could return.
RB Orleans Darkwa -- A tough-as-nails runner who might have more value to the Giants than anyone else. Running backs rarely get paid in free agency anymore, and he won't have a ton of value coming off a 751-yard season. Giants know, though, he could have value to them, perhaps in a rotation behind a better offensive line.
LB Devon Kennard -- A good, but not great starter who started to scratch the surface as a pass rusher with four sacks last season. He has the tools to be effective in what is expected to be a blitz-happy defense under new coordinator James Bettcher. He'd be very valuable if they switch even part time to a 3-4.
LB Jonathan Casillas -- He's a team leader, which is something the Giants can't afford to lose as they try to rebuild the locker room. Then again, the current locker room leadership wasn't exactly effective last season -- particularly on defense. And Casillas will be 31, missed half the season with injuries and struggled when he returned late in the year. He wants to come back, but the Giants may be ready to move on.
RB Shane Vereen -- He never really became the weapon the Giants thought he'd be. He'll end up somewhere else as a third-down back or returner.
LB Kelvin Sheppard -- He's a 30-year-old journeyman, but he was an underrated part of the Giants' defense last season. He likely won't have a huge market, so the Giants could bring him back at a bargain. If they do go 3-4 on defense, they'll need all the linebacker depth they can get.
LB Keenan Robinson -- His injury history makes him too much of a risk for anything other than a one-year, prove-it type of deal, which is basically what he got from the Giants each of the last two years.
QB Geno Smith -- He rehabbed his image in his one year with the Giants, but his one start didn't excite anyone. Regardless, the Giants will have Davis Webb and maybe a rookie backing up Eli Manning next season. Smith, meanwhile, has said he wants to sign someplace where he has a better shot at starting.
LB Mark Herzlich -- An organizational favorite, he's now 30, coming off a neck injury and is basically a special teams player. If he returns, it'll be for one year and a minimum salary, but it's unclear if new GM Dave Gettleman will be as sentimental about him as the previous regime had been.
DT Jay Bromley -- The former third-round pick out of Brooklyn never blossomed in his hometown. He showed he could be a depth and rotational player this season, but the Giants won't pay much for that.
DE Kerry Wynn -- The Giants paid him $1.8 million last season for one sack and 19 tackles. He's shown some promise as a rotational player, but not enough to justify much more than the minimum.
WR Tavarres King -- He's a good depth player with some speed who hasn't really gotten a chance with the Giants. It might be better for him to try and find more playing time elsewhere.
S Nat Berhe -- A hard-hitting safety who was good on special teams, but had concussion issues. He's buried on this team behind Landon Collins, Darian Thompson and Andrew Adams. Someone else will give him a shot.
CB Ross Cockrell -- A late-summer trade brought him to the Giants and he played well, with three interceptions. He's veteran depth at the right price for a potentially thin cornerback group.
OL Jon Greco -- A 32-year-old veteran tackle is almost certainly not in the Giants' long-term plans.
LB Akeem Ayers -- Was signed late in the year to help when injuries ravaged the defense. He won't be back.
CB Darryl Morris -- A late-season injury replacement, he's also not part of the team's future.
Restricted free agents
(Giants can keep their rights by tendering them at an amount still to be determined by the NFL and NFLPA. That would allow them to match any offer the player gets and receive draft-pick compensation if they don't.)
C Brett Jones -- He was better than expected filling in for the injured Richburg. He's surely going to get tendered, likely at the second-round level ($3 million-ish) at least, and could be the Giants' starting center.
LB Deonte Skinner -- He could be back, but not at the RFA tender. He'll have to re-sign for the minimum after he's non-tendered instead.
Exclusive Rights free agents
(Giants can keep these players simply by tendering them a one-year, minimum-salary deal)
DT Robert Thomas -- He hasn't done much in two seasons with the Giants, but he was in camp two years ago with Gettleman's Panthers and has some promise, so he'll probably be re-signed.
LB Curtis Grant -- Mostly a special teams player, he tore his ACL in late November. Whether the Giants tender him or try to re-sign him later depends on where he is in his recovery.
OL Jon Halapio -- Filled in well late in the year when injuries ravaged the O-line. For a team in desperate need of help up front, he's worth the minimum for depth.
TE Ryan O'Malley -- He only joined the Giants in late December. At 6-foot-6, 260 pounds and just 24 years old, Giants figure to tender him so they can at least see what they have.