Dave Gettleman isn't fooling around. He's all business when it comes to fixing the Giants. And in case anyone hasn't noticed, he's going to be aggressive with his plan.
If he didn't make that clear when he cut guard Bobby Hart and benched tackle Ereck Flowers in his first days on the job last December, it was pretty clear over the last few days when he got rid of cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and punter Brad Wing, and traded for linebacker Alec Ogletree. There may be more cuts to come (perhaps receivers Dwayne Harris and Brandon Marshall) too, possibly before the free-agent market opens.
And when it does, Gettleman will likely be aggressive there too.
That doesn't mean he'll be splashy. The Giants do have some salary cap constraints. They figure to be only about $26 million under the $177.2 million cap, assuming they do a simple restructuring of Ogletree's deal. But that's enough to make at least one big splash - perhaps guard Andrew Norwell - and a lot of smaller ones as he reshapes the roster.
And yes, the priority will be exactly what Gettleman promised: To "fix" the offensive line.
"I said it in my opening presser. I'm not going to lie to anybody - give me a break," Gettleman said. "But we'll do it piece by piece. If the right guy is there, we'll make a move."
Who are the right guys for the Giants under Gettleman and new coach Pat Shurmur? The GM is big on "culture" and finding "tough guys that hate to lose". He's also big on big men - particularly his beloved "Hog Mollies" on offense.
So, here's a look at some of the free agents to watch, and that the Giants will be watching and discussing when the league-wide negotiating period opens on Monday at noon:
G Andrew Norwell (Panthers) - A former undrafted free agent find by Gettleman in Carolina who developed into an All-Pro, the Giants are expected to make a major run at him, even though he could cost more than $12 million per year. Why is a guard worth that? Because, as Gettleman said, "There isn't a quarterback alive that's going to get in the huddle and say 'OK, boys, let them up the middle. I'll deal with it.' You need to be firm in the middle."
G Justin Pugh (Giants) - When a player hits free agency, he almost always ends up signing elsewhere, so the Giants best hope is that Pugh's expected market doesn't materialize. That seems unlikely if his back is healthy. But if he can't find big money elsewhere - and if the Giants can't sign Norwell -- remember how Gettleman described Pugh: "He's a versatile, smart football player. Really he's a four-hole guy which is unusual."
G Josh Kline (Titans) - A solid starter with the Titans who is expected to become a free agent because he knows the market will be lucrative. Consider the 6-foot-3, 300-pounder to be the head of the fallback class.
RB Jerick McKinnon (Vikings) - Shurmur spoke at length about the importance of a running back who can run, block, and catch, and he just happened to have a good one last season in Minnesota. And since McKinnon is likely in the market for a new team, since a healthy Dalvin Cook will get his old job back with the Vikings next season, this seems like a perfect match.
CB Patrick Robinson (Eagles) - With Rodgers-Cromartie now cut, the Giants need some veteran help in a suddenly thin and questionable defensive backfield. Robinson would be a terrific slot corner, but he could also start if the Giants find out that they still can't trust Eli Apple or Janoris Jenkins next season. One problem: The Eagles were reportedly close to re-signing him as of Monday morning.
CB Morris Claiborne (Jets) - The cornerback market could get pricey, but it's unclear if the injury-prone former Cowboy can get the big deal he wants. He did make it through 15 games last season, but his history of missing games could keep his price down enough to make him worth a short-term deal.
CB Malcolm Butler (Patriots) - He could be one of the best and highest-paid corners on the market, in which case the Giants would probably pass. But the buzz at the scouting combine was that his down season and bizarre Super Bowl benching might force him to take a one-year deal to re-establish his value. That's something the Giants could do.
OT Chris Hubbard (Steelers) - The Giants want to find competition for Flowers this offseason, but one team source said they believe the tackle market will be badly overpriced. So, they'll look to the second or third tiers of free agency. The 6-foot-4, 295-pound Hubbard should be there after making 10 starts as a fill-in right tackle last season. He can play guard, too.
LB Avery Williamson (Titans) - The trade for Ogletree was only the beginning of the Giants' conversion to a 3-4 defense. With Jonathan Casillas and Devon Kennard expected to sign elsewhere, they need more linebackers. A four-year starter in Tennessee, he's an outstanding run-stuffer.