The most interesting thing about the Giants’ cannonball into the free-agent pool is that it’s really never been their way. They prefer to build through the draft, to invest in their homegrown assets and leave the wild spending sprees to Daniel Snyder and Jerry Jones. Yet that’s not exactly been the plan in the 2 ½ months since a dejected John Mara addressed the media in the wake of a season he called “as disappointing as any in my memory.” He vowed that day that the Giants would “do everything that we have to do to improve the team.” But he also said that “as a long-term solution, it’s not a good idea being too aggressive in free agency.” That was 19 players and $108.6 million worth of contracts ago. Maybe that’s a sign of just how desperate the Giants were after missing the playoffs in four of the last five seasons, or of how bad they felt last year’s team really was despite a 7-3 finish. But it’s a reminder that when GM Jerry Reese says, as he often does, that “there is no template” for how the Giants do business, he isn’t kidding. They’ll do whatever they have to do. This year, they decided to spend. The good news is, these are still the Giants, and their seemingly wild spree really wasn’t wild at all. They didn’t dump obscene sums of money onto big-name players in the hopes of creating headlines, nor did they overpay for a star player whose best days are a thing of the past. They went young, for starters, signing a class with an average age of 27.4. In fact the only over-30 player was 34-year-old kicker Josh Brown. Remember, at the end of the season Mara lamented the “inordinate number of injuries” that helped ruin the Giants’ season. They were determined to get younger and more durable, which was a big reason they swallowed the bitter pill of cutting 30-year-old defensive end Justin Tuck. They also didn’t overreact, despite Mara’s postseason complaint about the “broken” offense. Only a third of their spending went to that side ($36.9 million), and their two biggest offensive acquisitions — guard Geoff Schwartz (four years, $16.8 million) and running back Rashad Jennings (four years, $10 million) — hardly got bank-breaking deals. The only truly big deal was the five-year, $35 million contract they gave cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, on whom some have argued they overspent. But the market for top cornerbacks had gone through the roof. The Bucs gave Alterraun Verner $26.5 million over four years. Aqib Talib got six years and $57 million from Denver. Green Bay re-signed Sam Shields for four years and $39 million. Measured against that, the price for Rodgers-Cromartie — a 27-year-old cornerback who has 19 interceptions (and just four missed games) in six NFL seasons — wasn’t unreasonable at all. And it made sense, even if the Giants spending $68.4M on the NFL’s eighth-ranked defense came as a surprise. Yes, they’ve lived by the credo that “you can never have enough pass rushers” but they spent the season watching their pass rush just miss getting to quarterbacks who were firing off passes in three seconds or less. So, with hopes for the healthy return of defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, they decided to counteract that trend by bolstering their secondary with cornerbacks Walter Thurmond (from a Seattle secondary that was one of the best in NFL history) and Rodgers-Cromartie, assuming better coverage could give their pass rushers just a little more time.
NY Giants break from old way of doing business and spend big in free agency
New York Daily News | Mar 23