The NFL offseason may be off to a slow start, but things are surely about to pick up with cuts and contract restructures on their way, and with the scouting combine just two weeks away.
With that in mind, here is our weekly look at some of the biggest questions facing the Giants, what's new about them, where they stand on finding an answer, and if any of the issues have changed.
1. How are they going to fix their offensive line?
The free-agent market is a little thin, will likely be expensive, and has more good right tackles expected to be available than left tackles. And while almost everyone agrees the Giants will have to focus on the line this offseason, they also have to consider the cost. Consider that the projected franchise tag for offensive linemen is around $14.4 million. That's so high that the Baltimore Ravens are reportedly not likely to use it on right tackle Rick Wagner, who some think is the best lineman that will be available. But he might still end up with a deal close to that as a yearly average.
The cost, and the limited supply, is why many mock drafts seem to be focusing on offensive linemen for the Giants in the draft at No. 23. It's still way too early to know who might be available there, or whether that's the option the Giants choose to pursue. But if they do, two early names to keep an eye on are Wisconsin T Ryan Ramsczyk and Utah T Garett Bolles.
2. Can they find a reliable, play-making tight end?
This is another area where the free-agent market is generally a little older, overall uninspiring, and perhaps overpriced. It remains possible the Giants will take a look at free agents like Martellus Bennett or Jared Cook, though if they had a desire to commit decent money and extra years to Bennett they would've done it four years ago when he was on their roster.
The tantalizing part about this position is that there are a couple of interesting draftees who could possibly be there for them at 23, or near enough that they could jump up. Again, it's early, but keep an eye on Alabama TE O.J. Howard and Miami TE David Njoku, who has been rising up some draft boards.
3. Is Jason Pierre-Paul coming back, and if not who will replace him?
The last projection I saw for the franchise tag at defensive end was $16.9 million, and I've heard it could be over $17 million, so I still don't think the Giants are going to use the tag on him this year. They are projected to have somewhere in the neighborhood of $35 million in cap room once they finish with their cuts. It seems crazy to use half of that on one player when they have so many other free agents and needs.
But, the tagging period begins on Wednesday and lasts until March 1, so we will know soon enough. If they don't, there is currently no indication the Giants have a shot at signing him to a long-term deal before free agency opens. They surely will try, but JPP has indicated he wants to test the market in search of a big pay day.
If he does, I've said and written this before: Watch the Dallas Cowboys, especially if they get rid of Tony Romo and can clear the necessary cap room.
4. Are they content with Paul Perkins as their running back next season?
We got the first part of their answer on Monday when they released veteran running back Rashad Jennings -- definitely not an unexpected move. Perkins had surpassed Jennings as the starter late in the season anyway, and Jennings' age (32) and salary ($2.5 million) and declining production and injuries all conspired to make him expendable.
By all indications, the Giants are content with Perkins as the starter, but they will likely pair him with another back and probably a veteran.The good news for the Giants? Assuming Le'Veon Bell is franchise-tagged by the Steelers, the market for running backs isn't great. In fact, one of the best options out there is Green Bay's Eddie Lacy, who has battled weight issues and is coming off ankle surgery.
Oh, right, I said "good news." Well, according to the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Lacy is surely going to have to sign a one-year, "prove it" deal worth around $2 million -- which certainly makes him a low-risk player with potentially high rewards. The Packers supposedly want him back. But could the Giants, with the Packers' old quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo at the helm, sweeten that a little and bring him in to split time with Perkins?
5. Who will be their No. 3 receiver?
It now officially won't be Victor Cruz, who was not surprisingly released on Monday in a painful but probably prudent move. It was clear that his skills were declining and he was ill-fitted on the outside with the Giants committed to Sterling Shepard in the slot.
There is some sentiment in the organization that the Giants need to add a taller receiver in free agency on the outside. There are a few, but they could be costly. One interesting name who reportedly will be available is Kenny Britt, the 6-3, 223-pound New Jersey native who has played with the Titans and most recently the Rams. He's had some off-field issues, though none in a few years, but he is coming off his first 1,000-yard season (68-1,002-5).
That's not nothing, considering how awful the Rams quarterback situation was. But it's worrisome that it took eight years for the former first-round pick out of Rutgers. Regardless, he could be a very interesting, inexpensive option, perhaps paired with a young receiver through the draft.