The Giants‘ 2022 season has come to a close following a playoff loss to the NFC champion Eagles. And what a year it was for Big Blue. In a campaign that was supposed to be disastrous with a new regime and unproven quarterback, the Giants shocked the world by achieving their first winning season and playoff berth in six years.
But it is now time to look at how the Giants and general manager Joe Schoen could improve the roster this offseason.
How could the Giants operate in free agency? What could they do in the draft?
Let’s take an early look at the team’s 2023 offseason blueprint.
Who to bring back? Before the Giants’ can really put pen to paper on any external free agents, they must address the futures of some of their own.
Quarterback Daniel Jones, running back Saquon Barkley, safety Julian Love, center Jon Feliciano, and wide receiver Darius Slayton have expiring contracts.
It’s clear the Giants need to bring back Jones on a brand new contract, one that’s 3-4 years and likely carries a $30-plus million average annual value. He’s proven to be a legitimate NFL starting quarterback and one that can lead this franchise in the future. There is a good chance the Giants will need to use the franchise tag on Jones, which would complicate their offseason.
As for Barkley, the Giants should definitely look at tagging their former No. 2 overall pick. Although he returned to his rookie-year form in 2022 and earned his second Pro Bowl nod, the running back is still entering his sixth season in the league. We’ve seen various running backs decline at this stage of their careers, and there’s already a lack of value tied to the position. So a multi-year investment isn’t it, but a one-year franchise tag at a projected price of $10.1 million (also per OTC) could be worth it. If Barkley has another great year, Schoen could tag him a second time next offseason if need be. But the tag can only be used if the Giants do not tag Jones.
The Giants retaining two of their top offensive players might lead to Schoen passing on a Julian Love return. While the fourth-year safety played the best football of his life in 2022, the Giants may view him as expendable especially with fellow safety Xavier McKinney potentially in line for an extension either this offseason or next (preferably next). Feliciano (on the wrong side of 30 years old and coming off a down year) and Slayton (nice player, but not an offensive staple) should walk in free agency.
Fifth-year options. The only fifth-year option the Giants need to address this offseason is 2020 first-round left tackle Andrew Thomas. And it’s obvious they need to pick up the extra year.
Thomas has become one of the better left tackles in the NFL, and while the Giants should sign him long term, there’s still the opportunity to do that next offseason. Get whatever you can from the cheap rookie contract before needing to sign Thomas to a potentially monster deal in 2024.
Free agency? The obvious move to make in free agency: sign an established receiver. While Slayton was OK this season and receivers Richie James and Isaiah Hodgins came along nicely, it’s tough to imagine any of these guys are franchise wideouts. Schoen likely brings Hodgins back since he impressed down the stretch. But all in all, they have to sign somebody else who’s closer in talent to a No. 1.
Pending available free agents include Allen Lazard, Jakobi Meyers, and … Odell Beckham. And yes, the Giants could consider a reunion.
This isn’t for clicks; this isn’t for East Rutherford headlines. If Beckham is healthy, he could provide speed and elusiveness from the slot position better than the other current roster options can. The Giants could probably land him on an affordable one- or two-year contract. If they give him a multi-year deal, they should structure it in a way that allows them to get out of the contract after a season.
The draft? The Giants have nine picks in the upcoming draft after sending wide receiver Kadarius Toney to Kansas City for a pair of them (third- and sixth-rounders) in October. And even if they sign one of the aforementioned receivers, they still need to look for one in the first round.
If the organization is going to trust Jones to take the reigns for at least another few years, the receiver position needs a desperate upgrade. That means drafting a guy at No. 26 overall in the first round. USC’s Jordan Addison comes to mind, and so does Tennessee’s Jaylin Hyatt.
The Giants also need to upgrade the secondary and take a corner who could eventually grow into a starter in the second round. There’s hope Adoree’ Jackson impresses next year like he did prior to his knee injury this past season. But with Aaron Robinson and Cor’Dale Flott (who have yet to prove much at all) still under rookie contracts for multiple years, the Giants need to locate a better option for one of the starting boundary spots.
Maybe one of the higher-projected cornerbacks (like Georgia’s Kelee Ringo) drops to the second round? Would surely be a blessing for Big Blue, who must improve in defending the pass. The Giants finished the regular season 18th in passer rating allowed (89.9) and 14th in passing yards allowed (214.0 per game).
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