Joe Schoen will have various decisions to make with the new league 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 was previously the assistant GM for the Buffalo Bills.
Schoen will first need to hire a new head coach to replace the recently fired Joe Judge, but a little down the road, he’ll have to decide what to do with the team’s own free agents.
The new league year (and the free agency period) officially commences on March 16 — there are various notable free agents the Giants will either need to re-sign or let walk.
What should Schoen do with each of those individuals?
OT Nate Solder — Let walk
This is an easy decision.
The Giants need to rid themselves of Nate Solder, whose on-field issues have set the offense back on various occasions.
Andrew Thomas is the clearcut left tackle of the future (at least we hope) and the organization could definitely address the right tackle position early in the draft.
And if the Giants are going to keep a reserve swing tackle, it would be smart to retain the younger, cheaper Matthew Peart.
DL Austin Johnson — Let walk
Austin Johnson started all 17 games for the Giants this past year after he signed a one-year extension ahead of the 2021 campaign.
But the Giants need to be careful given their dreadful cap situation — if they’re going to re-sign anyone, it shouldn’t be a replaceable defensive lineman.
Schoen should let Johnson test the waters in free agency while looking for his replacement in the draft.
C Billy Price — Re-sign
Listen, I understand Billy Price isn’t the best option at center.
But Nick Gates’ future is unclear after he fractured his leg in Week 2. The Giants may need another option on the interior of the offensive line, and Price at least carries experience working with the other components of the unit.
And even if Gates returns and is ready by the beginning of the 2022 season, Price could be a decent backup considering that experience with the other line pieces.
TE Evan Engram — Let walk
It’s time for the Giants to part ways with Evan Engram.
The 2017 first-rounder hasn’t developed into one of the best tight ends in the league despite possessing superb potential.
From the drops to the missed blocks to the failure to truly fit in with the offense on a consistent basis, Engram has been a bust for New York.
Time to move on.
S Jabrill Peppers — Let walk
Either the Giants can re-sign Jabrill Peppers, who’s a liability in coverage, or move forward with Xavier McKinney, who was one of the better young safeties in the league in 2021, led the team with five picks, and is still on his rookie deal for another two years.
This is an easy decision — let Peppers walk.
OG Will Hernandez — Let walk
Will Hernandez is inconsistent and shouldn’t be in the Giants’ future plans; it would be better for either party to end the unhealthy on-field relationship.
Hernandez could get a fresh start elsewhere and the Giants could easily replace him via free agency or early in the draft should they decide to use one of their picks on an interior offensive lineman.
However, I truly hope they don’t use the No. 5 overall selection on a guard — that pick should be exclusively reserved for an offensive tackle, edge rusher, or quarterback.
DL Danny Shelton — Let walk
It’s the exact 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 dishing out any of their limited cap space on a player like that.
Shelton didn’t even have a significant role in 2021 — the veteran played just 29% of the defensive snaps (13 games total). And that was with a defensive coordinator that actually knows how to utilize his personnel in Patrick Graham.
LB Reggie Ragland — Re-sign
The Giants should absolutely look to bring Reggie Ragland back on an affordable, short-term deal.
My guess is that Blake Martinez could be a cap casualty after he missed 14 games due to a torn ACL this past season — his release would assist the team’s cap situation and save the Giants a little 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 on this defense again in 2022. Keeping the Crowder-Ragland linebacking tandem could be beneficial for New York.
However, the retaining of Ragland has to — and I cannot stress this enough — has to be at the right price. Losing Ragland in free agency would not be as bad as overpaying him for his services.
FB Elijhaa Penny — Let walk
You don’t need a fullback in this era.
And although Elijhaa Penny can be an effective runner at times, I’m against re-signing any sort of running back unless they’re a star.
Penny is obviously not a player of that magnitude, so sayonara.
EDGE Lorenzo Carter — Let walk
Lorenzo Carter experienced a productive end to the 2021 season, but that shouldn’t drastically alter his future with the organization.
For the majority of his Giants tenure, the 2018 third-round draft pick has mainly been inconsistent and has only recorded 14.5 sacks in four years (49 total games). He’s also injury-prone, having missed games in every season since entering the league (Carter sat out three games this past season after missing 11 matchups in 2020 due to an Achilles rupture).
Expect the Giants to heavily address the edge rusher position this offseason, whether that be via free agency, the draft, or both — this should fog up Carter’s future in East Rutherford.
Follow Ryan Honey on Twitter: @RyanHoneyESNY