Ranking the Giants’ top 3 needs heading into free agency and draft season

New York Giants offensive tackle Andrew Thomas (78) and offensive tackle Tyre Phillips (79) and offensive tackle Korey Cunningham (70) jog on the field with teammates during training camp at the Quest Diagnostics Training Facility

New York Giants General Manager Joe Schoen may have just one more off-season to rectify a team that is trending in the wrong direction. The 2023 season unveiled challenges that no one anticipated, with quarterback Daniel Jones suffering a torn ACL and the team struggling to secure wins.

While they managed a few victories against lesser teams, and notably against the Green Bay Packers, their performance against competitive teams left much to be desired.

Coaching Carousel and Press Scrutiny

The season was further complicated by the turnover of multiple coaches, attracting significant negative press, particularly around the Wink Martindale situation. The near loss of offensive coordinator Mike Kafka and the failure to secure top defensive coordinator targets only added to the turmoil.

At this juncture, the Giants are in dire need of a turnaround, with a critical emphasis on bolstering the roster across several units. Yet, the most pivotal focus remains on the quarterback position and the strategy for Daniel Jones’ future following his torn ACL.

READ MORE: Giants’ second-year RB could play larger role in 2024

Prioritizing the Giants’ Needs

1. Quarterback

If the Giants have a shot at landing one of the top three quarterbacks in the draft, they shouldn’t hesitate.

Jones may have signed a four-year, $160 million deal, but they can essentially leverage him as a bridge quarterback, taking the out in his contract after 2024 that would leave $22.2 million in dead salary behind. He has a $69.3 million dead money hit this upcoming season with a $47.1 cap hit, so the Giants will be restricted from signing free agents if they don’t prepare for the future and clear salary space from his deal — they can restructure Dexter Lawrence and Andrew Thomas to open up around $25 million.

Consider this: the Giants would save nearly $20 million by releasing him next season, if not more, if they spread the salary between 2025 and 2026. Drafting a rookie quarterback is in their best interest, but protecting him is also a priority.

2. Offensive Line

The Giants hired Carmen Bricillo from the Las Vegas Raiders this off-season to help support a unit that has been a disaster for years.

Under the leadership of Bobby Johnson, the Giants hosted the bottom-ranked pass-protecting unit in football. They allowed a staggering 267 pressures and 45 sacks, so expect plenty of personnel turnover and some free-agent acquisitions.

The Giants could allocate another draft pick toward the group, but the most important variable is developing talent already on the roster. Bricillo will certainly have his work cut out for him, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Giants targeted one of his former players, Jermaine Eluemunor, to take over the starting job at right tackle.

Former top 10 pick Evan Neal will likely kick inside and compete, cross-training at both RT and guard. Unfortunately, Neal has dealt with injury and inconsistency, and the Giants simply can’t afford to have him as a liability on the outside any longer.

3. Pass Rush

Beyond Kayvon Thibodeaux, the Giants’ pass rush requires substantial reinforcement. Utilizing draft picks and exploring free agency options are essential strategies to bolster this unit.

While high-profile signings like Danielle Hunter might represent a luxury, finding cost-effective yet impactful players is crucial for improving the team’s pass rush capabilities. Dexter Lawrence’s standout performance notwithstanding, the development of players like Thibodeaux under new Defensive Coordinator Shane Bowen is crucial for the team’s defensive success.

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