Giants GM Dave Gettleman still needs to fill these 4 holes after slew of free agency moves

Ralph Vacchiano
SNY

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In some ways, Dave Gettleman went for quantity over quality during his free-agent shopping spree last week. For the most part, instead of getting the most expensive players on the market, he spread his money out so he could fill some of the Giants' many needs.

And he certainly did. He filled a big hole at cornerback, two at linebacker, and added a right tackle, all while also finding a backup quarterback, a special teams ace, and a blocking tight end. He also re-signed his kicker, the Giants' best special teamer, and -- though not everyone loves this move -- insured the Giants will get at least a full year out of Leonard Williams after his controversial trade.

In the process, Gettleman has used almost all of the Giants' $72.7 million in cap space. The exact number is hard to figure until the details of all the contracts are known, but he seems to have only about $7 million left based on the contracts and contract numbers SNY has obtained. He'll actually need to create some more space with either cuts or contract restructures to sign the Giants' draft picks and keep enough money as an in-season reserve.

 

And unfortunately for Gettleman, he has more to do, too. Here's a look at some of the remaining holes Gettleman still needs to fill, and where he might find some help:

Safety

The Giants have Jabrill Peppers returning from a fractured back, and Julian Love returning from a rookie season where he really didn't get on the field until Peppers went down. They also signed special-teamer Nate Ebner, who plays safety, and Sean Chandler is back.

Now, it's possible the Giants see the 31-year-old Ebner as the replacement for veteran Michael Thomas, who remains an unsigned free agent. If so, they could be done here. But it still feels like an inexperienced group that could use some guidance. It wouldn't be a shock if they re-sign Thomas back at some point to add his well-respected voice and leadership to this group.

Center

Right now, the incumbent starting center is Spencer Pulley as the Giants hope for a quick return for Jon Halapio from the Achilles tear he suffered at the end of last year. But their faith in those two was exposed as they nosed around the free-agent center market over the last week. So far they've come up empty, though they did take a good shot at Joe Looney before he returned to Dallas on a one-year deal.

The big problem is the free-agent market for centers has really thinned out, and it wasn't a particularly good one to begin with. There's no obvious option out there that is a clear upgrade over Pulley at the moment. That means the Giants are going to have to look to the draft, and very likely Day 2 of the draft.

A name to watch: Michigan center Cesar Ruiz -- a powerful, 6-foot-3, 307-pounder who some scouts believe has first-round talent, but is much more likely to land in Round 2. Temple's Matt Hennessy, the bigger (6-foot-4, 307) younger brother of Jets long-snapper Thomas Hennessy, could be an intriguing Day 2 option, too.

Offensive tackle

The Giants added Cam Fleming at right tackle and they still have Nate Solder on the left, and some in the organization like Nick Gates, though it's possible he'll eventually move inside to guard.

What the Giants are missing is depth at tackle, youth, and a future replacement for Solder or Fleming -- possibly both as soon as next year. That's why, at the moment, it's hard to imagine the Giants picking anything other than an offensive tackle with the fourth overall pick -- especially if Gettleman is ever going to back up his love of Hog Mollies with actual action.

Keep your eyes on Iowa's Tristan Wirfs. The Giants love him, as SNY has told you, and it's easy to see why. He's 6-foot-5, 320 pounds, and showed at the NFL Combine that he's the most athletic tackle in the draft.

The other contender, it seems, would be Louisville's Mekhi Becton, who is pretty athletic too and is simply massive in size -- 6-foot-7, 364 pounds. That could be hard to resist.

The Giants, by the way, have 10 picks in this draft. They would be wise to add another tackle or two later in the draft, too.

Edge rusher

As Gettleman noted, these are awfully difficult to find. They were simply never going to spend the cap room needed for Jadeveon Clowney, so they went the bargain route instead with Kyler Fackrell, in the hopes that he can regain his 2018 form when he had 10.5 sacks. It's the same kind of chance the Giants took on Markus Golden last year, and that paid off with a 10-sack season.

Whether they can find help elsewhere, or are even looking, is unclear. There are a few players out there -- Golden, Jordan Jenkins -- but even on a one-year, prove-it contract they'd be hard to fit into the Giants' remaining cap space. Maybe they could go the "old" route and take a flier on LB Clay Matthews or DE Jabal Sheard. Recently released Everson Griffin is surely out of their range.

Most likely, what you see is what you get. The Giants will hope that Fackrell and Lorenzo Carter can get the job done, and that maybe Leonard Williams can either be enough of a disruptive presence to help them, or can start picking up a few sacks of his own.

And then there's the draft, though unless Chase Young magically slips to No. 4, that help will have to come on Day 2. Some names to watch: Penn State LB Yetur Gross-Matos and Wisconsin LB Zack Baun, who both should be available in the second round.

Video: How are the New York GMs doing in free agency so far?

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