The Giants will undoubtedly be looking for help at tight end this offseason and they may need reinforcements at defensive tackle, too. But they've decided to bring back a couple of their own players at those positions to see if they can get any help from within.
Both tight end Matt LaCosse and defensive tackle Robert Thomas have re-signed with the Giants, according to NFL sources. Both were "exclusive rights" free agents, meaning all it took for the Giants to bring them back was to offer a minimum salary and a one-year deal.
For LaCosse, who spent all of last season on injured reserve, that's worth a 2017 salary of $465,000. For Thomas, his salary will be $540,000.
Meanwhile, the Giants have decided not to tender receiver Ben Edwards, another of their ERFAs, according to another NFL source. The 24-year-old missed all of last season with a torn ACL, after playing two games (and catching one pass) for them in 2015. The Giants have not ruled out inviting him to training camp or even mini-camp later in the spring if he hasn't signed elsewhere by then.
Those moves leave the Giants with two other ERFAs to deal with -- tight end Will Tye and fullback Nikita Whitlock. Both are expected to be tendered, given the low risk and low expense of ERFAs.
LaCosse, 24, is a player who has intrigued the Giants and could have factored into their tight end rotation (or mess) last season if he hadn't injured his knee in August. The 6-6, 261-pound undrafted free agent out of Illinois also hurt his chances as a rookie in 2015 when he injured his hamstring early in his first training camp. He was eventually cut and then landed briefly in the Jets' training camp. But the Giants brought him back to the practice squad that November.
He even played the last two games of his rookie season with the Giants, catching three passes for 22 yards (all during a Week 16 blowout loss in Minnesota).
It remains to be seen where LaCosse fits in with the Giants tight ends in 2017. They are not planning to bring back Larry Donnell, who will be an unrestricted free agent on March 9. So LaCosse will compete with Tye and with Jerrel Adams, a seventh-round rookie last season. The Giants also will likely pursue another tight end either in free agency or the draft.
As for Thomas, the Giants claimed the 25-year-old off waivers in September and stuck by him as he missed the first five games of the season with an undisclosed illness. The 6-3, 325-pounder has spent time with six teams in his three NFL seasons. He played in eight games for the Giants in 2016 and had one sack.