What should Joe Schoen do with the Giants’ notable free agents?
Joe Schoen will have various decisions to make with the league’s new year arriving in March.
The Giants officially have a new general manager. To replace Dave Gettleman (who, again, went 19-46 in four years and somehow earned the right to “retire”), Big Blue hired Joe Schoen on Friday. Schoen previously served as assistant general manager for the Buffalo Bills.
Schoen will first have to hire a new head coach to replace recently fired Joe Judge, but a little later he will have to decide what to do with the team’s own free agents.
The league’s new year (and free agency period) officially begins on March 16 — there are various notable free agents the Giants will either have to re-sign or let go.
What should Schoen do with each of these individuals?
OT Nate Solder – Let It Walk
It’s an easy decision.
The Giants need to get rid of Nate Solder, whose on-field issues have repeatedly set the offense back.
Andrew Thomas is the clear left tackle of the future (at least we hope so) and the organization could certainly approach the right tackle position early in the draft.
And if the Giants are going to keep a reserve tackle, it would be smart to keep the younger, cheaper Matthew Peart.
DL Austin Johnson — Let it Walk
Austin Johnson started all 17 games for the Giants last year after signing a one-year extension ahead of the 2021 campaign.
But the Giants have to be careful given their dire cap situation — if they want to re-sign someone, it shouldn’t be a replaceable defensive lineman.
Schoen is expected to let Johnson test the waters in free agency while looking for his replacement in the draft.
C Billy Price — Re-sign
Look, I understand Billy Price isn’t the best option at center.
But Nick Gates’ future is unclear after fracturing his leg in Week 2. The Giants might need another option inside the offensive line, and Price has at least one. experience working with the other components of the unit.
And even if Gates returns and is ready at the start of the 2022 season, Price could be a decent backup given that experience with the other plays in the line.
TE Evan Engram — Let It Go
It’s time for the Giants to part ways with Evan Engram.
The 2017 first round didn’t become one of the best tight ends in the league despite his superb potential.
From pinfalls to missed blocks to failing to really fit into the offense consistently, Engram has been a failure for New York.
It is time to move on.
S Jabrill Peppers — Let It Walk
Either the Giants can re-sign Jabrill Peppers, who is a cover liability, or move forward with Xavier McKinney, who was one of the best youngsters in the league in 2021, led the team with five pick and is still on his rookie deal for another two years.
It’s an easy decision – let Peppers walk.
OG Will Hernandez — Let it Walk
Will Hernandez is inconsistent and shouldn’t feature in the Giants’ future plans; it would be better if either party ended the unhealthy relationship on the pitch.
Hernandez could get a fresh start elsewhere and the Giants could easily replace him through free agency or early in the draft if they decide to use one of their picks on an inside offensive lineman.
However, I really hope they don’t use the No. 5 overall pick on a guard – that pick should be exclusively for an offensive tackle, rusher, or quarterback.
DL Danny Shelton — Let It Walk
It’s exactly the same situation as the one involving Austin Johnson.
At the end of the day, Danny Shelton is a replaceable defensive lineman and the Giants shouldn’t be handing out their limited cap space to a player like that.
Shelton hasn’t even played a significant role in 2021 — the veteran has only played 29% of defensive snaps (13 games overall). And that was with a defensive coordinator who really knows how to use his people in Patrick Graham.
LB Reggie Ragland – Re-sign
The Giants should definitely be looking to bring Reggie Ragland back on an affordable, short-term deal.
Guess Blake Martinez could be a cap victim after missing 14 games with a torn ACL last season – his release would help the team’s cap situation and save the Giants a bit over $8.5 million in space.
Ragland could be a legitimate starter in this league and has experience playing alongside Tae Crowder, who should be a leader of this defense again in 2022. Keeping the Crowder-Ragland tandem could benefit New York.
However, maintaining Ragland must – and I can’t stress this enough – come at the right price. Losing Ragland in free agency wouldn’t be as bad as overpaying him for his services.
FB Elijhaa Penny — Let It Walk
You don’t need a rear at this time.
And while Elijhaa Penny can be an effective runner at times, I’m against re-signing any type of running back unless he’s a star.
Penny obviously isn’t a player of that magnitude, so sayonara.
EDGE Lorenzo Carter — Let It Walk
Lorenzo Carter had a productive end to the 2021 season, but that shouldn’t drastically alter his future with the organization.
For the majority of his tenure with the Giants, the 2018 third-round pick has been mostly inconsistent and recorded just 14.5 sacks in four years (49 games overall). He’s also injury-prone, having missed games in every season since entering the league (Carter missed three games last season after missing 11 games in 2020 with a ruptured Achilles).
Expect the Giants to heavily approach the top rusher position this offseason, whether through free agency, the draft or both — that should cloud Carter’s future at East Rutherford.
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