Giants could still take a swing at former Pro Bowl safety

New York Giants, Justin Simmons
DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 22: Justin Simmons #31 of the Denver Broncos stands on the field as he warms up before a game against the Detroit Lions at Empower Field at Mile High on December 22, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

The New York Giants currently have $8.71 million in available salary space after restructuring Dexter Lawrence’s contract, but that is barely enough to sign their draft class and carry a little bit of extra financial freedom into the regular season.

If the Giants still have plans to address the secondary in free agency, they will have to open up a bit more salary space, which they could do by restructuring Andrew Thomas’s contract and Bobby Okereke.

However, general manager Joe Schoen doesn’t seem too keen on spending big on a new safety or a top cornerback. If the Giants wanted to spend a bit more on safety and take a more cost-efficient approach at corner, they could target 30-year-old Justin Simmons, who has seven years of NFL experience and multiple Pro Bowls to his name.

Should the Giants Pay Up For Justin Simmons?

The Denver Broncos released Simmons to save a substantial amount of salary space, but his versatility on defense would help supplement the loss of McKinney to a degree.

Last season, Simmons played 985 snaps, posting 59 tackles with 324 yards allowed in coverage, including three touchdowns, three interceptions, and five pass breakups. He’s been one of the best free safeties in football for a long time, but he’s also solid in run defense and capable of stepping up into the box and making plays.

Since he’s a bit older, Simmons likely won’t command top dollar, with Spotrac suggesting a projected yearly salary of $11.1 million. I don’t get the sense that the Giants are going to be dropping $11 million for safety, especially since they’ve drafted a few mid-to-late-round picks over the past few years on developmental players.

One of those young safeties is Dane Belton, who has been with the Giants for two years but sat quietly behind McKinney and Jason Pinnock, waiting for an opportunity.

Last season, Belton started the final two games of the season, posting two interceptions and giving up 12 yards in coverage with five tackles. Belton was used sporadically throughout the campaign, but he has the size to support in run defense and good athleticism to aid in coverage. The Giants played him predominantly at the strong safety position, but he showed some flashes at safety, and they may be looking to graduate him to a starter if they want to keep costs down.

In addition, the Giants could consider drafting a young safety and adding some competition to the mix, but the falloff in production will be steep, considering McKinney’s value and contributions last season. However, they should get equal to more impact from Brian Burns, their new star pass rusher acquired from the Carolina Panthers.

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