After missing the playoffs this season, the New York Giants will enter the offseason in need of reinforcements. There are plenty of areas of weakness that general manager Joe Schoen could patch up through free agency. Three free agents stand out stand out as potentially high-priority targets for the Giants to consider pursuing.
While the Giants would unlikely be able to afford to sign all three of these high-priority free agents, even adding just one of the names on the list would be a massive boost to the roster.
Reuniting an elite run-stuffer with Wink Martindale
Targeting a player like Michael Pierce is contingent on whether or not defensive coordinator Wink Martindale returns next season. But if he does, the Giants have a Leonard Williams-sized void to fill on the interior of their defensive line, and Pierce could be their solution.
The 31-year-old veteran defensive tackle has been one of the best run-stuffers in the NFL for the majority of his career, but he really rose to prominence under Martindale’s tutelage.
Martindale was the Baltimore Ravens’ defensive coordinator from 2018-2021 prior to joining Big Blue. Those seasons under Martindale were arguably the best of Pierce’s entire career. He posted a career-high 90.8 overall Pro Football Focus grade in 2018 with 32 combined tackles and four tackles for loss.
Entering the twilight stage of his career, Pierce could be signed at a reasonable price point to fill a massive need on the Giants’ defense. Signing Pierce would give the Giants a big-bodied, two-down defensive lineman who can stuff the run and plug gaps while All-Pro DT Dexter Lawrence continues to dominate in both phases of the game.
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The Giants need some pass-rushing help
Za’Darius Smith is another former Baltimore Raven that the Giants could aim to bring back under the wing of Martindale. The veteran pass-rusher played under Martindale while he was still the Ravens’ linebackers coach in 2017, then one season under Martindale as the defensive coordinator in 2018.
Since 2018, Smith has bounced around to several different teams, unable to call one place home for longer than a few seasons. This year he is contributing to the Cleveland Browns’ stifling defense, totaling 27 combined tackles and 5.5 sacks on the year.
At 31 years old, Smith is another veteran player who could be acquired on an affordable contract. He could give the Giants some much-needed edge-rushing depth next season, taking some pressure off Kayvon Thibodeaux and pressuring the quarterback in passing situations.
Robert Hunt could be an anchor on the interior
Fixing the offensive line will be a main priority for the Giants this offseason. While the unit is one that Big Blue could address at the top of the 2024 NFL Draft, there will also be enticing options available in free agency, like right guard Robert Hunt.
Hunt has established himself as one of the best interior offensive linemen in the NFL this season with the Miami Dolphins. This season, Hunt has surrendered just five total pressures and one sack in 10 games (495 snaps) and has been one of the main catalysts to success in the Dolphins’ elite rushing attack.
PFF projects a four-year, $70 million ($17.5 million per year), $42 million total guaranteed contract for Hunt this offseason. This deal would make Hunt the third-highest-paid right guard in the NFL (Over The Cap).
After signing right tackle Austin Jackson to a three-year, $36 million extension this season, the Dolphins may be unable to afford to extend Hunt, too. This could lead the veteran guard to reach free agency where the Giants should make it their main priority to sign the 27-year-old lineman. Adding Hunt to the interior would immediately upgrade the Giants’ offensive line in both the passing and rushing attacks.