5 greatest Giants free agency moves of all time

The Giants have fueled several different Super Bowl runs with masterful work in free agency, adding crucial cogs that helped push Big Blue to big things.

Let’s look at their five best veteran free agent acquisitions. The list, starting with fifth-best and going up, is below.

For the purposes of this exercise, we are only considering veteran free agents, so undrafted gems such as Emlen Tunnell and Victor Cruz are ineligible. Still, we love a good success story, and these five fit….


When the Giants signed Rolle in 2010, they added a vocal, play-making defensive back who became a captain. No wonder they gave him a five-year, $37 million deal that made him the highest-paid safety in NFL history at the time. It paid off as he played every game over that span and was a key part of the team that beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI.

Rolle totaled 464 tackles and 14 interceptions with the Giants and made three solo tackles in that Super victory over New England. He was an All-Pro twice and made two Pro Bowls. In 2013, he was second in the NFL with six interceptions. His guest spots on WFAN became must-listens, too.


McKenzie was born in Willingboro, NJ, and ended up playing his whole NFL career in Jersey, starting with four years with the Jets until he signed a seven-year deal with the Giants before the 2005 season worth $37.5 million. McKenzie, a tackle, was a stalwart on the offensive line and was part of two Super Bowl champs with the Giants beating the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII and XLVI.

McKenzie played out his entire contract with the Giants, playing in 105 of a possible 112 regular season games. In 2005, McKenzie was part of the offensive line that cleared running room for Tiki Barber, who rushed for 1,860 yards, a Giants’ single-season record.

Linebacker Antonio Pierce played nine years in the NFL, earning a Super Bowl ring with the New York Giants in the 2007 season.
Linebacker Antonio Pierce played nine years in the NFL, earning a Super Bowl ring with the New York Giants in the 2007 season. / Robert Hanashiro / USA TODAY NETWORK


The Las Vegas Raiders coach first made his mark in the NFL as a rugged linebacker and defensive leader, and he was a key part of the Super Bowl XLII title team for the Giants. He signed a six-year, $26 million contract with Big Blue in 2005 and played five seasons for the team, amassing 491 tackles, seven sacks, four interceptions, six forced fumbles and seven fumble recoveries, according to Pro Football Reference.

Pierce, who was selected to the Pro Bowl after the 2006 season, made a tackle for the ages in the NFC Championship Game against the Packers during the 2007 season. With Green Bay driving, he wrecked a screen pass that seemed destined for a long gain by tackling Brandon Jackson even as a Packers blocker was trying to shove Pierce away. The play would've been a certain first down and perhaps even a touchdown without Pierce, and it’s become an indelible moment in Pierce’s career, as well as team lore, as the Giants won a squeaker in Green Bay en route to the Super Bowl.

Oh, and Pierce made 11 tackles in the Giants’ 17-14 victory over the previously undefeated Patriots in the Super Bowl.


Quarterback is the most important single position in all of sports and when a team signs a QB who then takes them to the Super Bowl, that QB gets on this list. Up high, too.

Collins began his Giants career as a backup, but soon supplanted Kent Graham and ended an era of signal-caller instability in blue. Collins took over in 1999 and then led the Giants to a 12-4 record and Super Bowl XXXV the next season, where they lost to the Ravens. Collins sparkled in the NFC Championship Game to get there, though, throwing five TD passes in a 41-0 demolition of Minnesota.

Collins is fourth on the Giants’ career list for passing yards and sixth in career TD passes. The team has nine seasons in which a QB has thrown for 4,000-plus yards – eight by Eli Manning and one by Collins. Collins led the Giants to the playoffs in 2002 when he threw for 4,073 yards, which was the Giants’ record until Manning broke it.


With 35 seconds left in Super Bowl XLII, Burress caught a 13-yard TD pass from Manning to beat the previously perfect Patriots and etch himself into Giants lore for all time. That signature moment is why he tops our list of best free agent signings by Big Blue, but Burress has plenty of other reasons, too.

He was a dynamic play-maker for a team and a QB who needed one and, at 6-5, he was difficult to cover on routes where he could go up and get the ball. He spent four seasons with the Giants, totaling 244 catches, 3,681 yards and 33 touchdowns. He’s fourth in catches per game in team history and ninth in TD receptions.

In 2005, Burress had 1,214 yards receiving. In 2007, he had 1,025 yards and 12 TD catches. The 12 touchdown receptions are tied for second-most in a single season in Giants history.

His TD catch in the Super Bowl was not his only heroics in that title run. He had 11 receptions for 151 yards in the NFC Championship Game victory over Green Bay. His Giants career could’ve been greater, too, but he accidentally shot himself in the leg at a nightclub in 2008, leading to a suspension by the league and, later, his release and prison. He didn’t play again until 2011 with the Jets.