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Giants now have money; where should they spend it?

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Darren Waller retirement has given Giants some cap relief

The New York Giants found themselves a bit richer after tight end Darren Waller’s post-June 1 retirement. The Giants gained $11.625 million in cap savings for the 2024 season, with just $2.9 million in dead cap (reflected in the previously listed number) and $4.9 million next season. New York currently has roughly $12.7 million in salary-cap space.

They’re hardly the robber barons of the 19th century, but they still have room to fortify the roster now that Waller has retired. GM Joe Schoen already had contingency plans in place for the potential Waller departure; the additions of Jack Stoll and Chris Manhertz in free agency, combined with the fourth-round draft pick of Theo Johnson, gives the Giants options at tight end.

Still, there are other areas of the roster that could use an infusion of talent and competition. Here are six players who should interest the Giants.

Stephon Gilmore, CB

Gilmore is 33 years old but played at an above-average level for the Dallas Cowboys last season. The longtime Buffalo Bill and New England Patriots’ CB has played for a different team each of the last three seasons. In 2021, he had an injury-plagued year with Carolina before thriving with the Indianapolis Colts in 2022 prior to joining Dallas. He played more than 1,000 snaps in the last two seasons.

He only allowed a 56.8% catch rate last year with the Cowboys, with nine passes defended and two interceptions. According to Pro Football Focus, he did allow five touchdowns and committed six penalties. Gilmore is a sure tackling cornerback who has only missed 11 tackles in the three seasons.

The Giants have question marks at cornerback opposite last year’s first-round pick, Deonte Banks. Gilmore would provide immediate support to buttress the secondary for the 2024 season. However, his signing would prevent young cornerbacks on the roster, Cor’Dale Flott specifically, from seizing a golden opportunity.

Gilmore may also be too expensive for the Giants. Spotrac.com currently has him earning $9 million a year, which the Giants could afford, but his demand could grow if injuries at cornerback afflict other teams around the league. Gilmore may also want to join a true competitor, and the Giants aren’t exactly that as currently constructed.

Fabian Moreau, CB

Should the Giants reunite with Fabian Moreau? Possibly, and it could be more realistic than Gilmore. Moreau provided the Giants and current Giants’ defensive backs’ coach Jerome Henderson 860 (mostly) starting snaps in the team’s 2022 playoff push. He’s another sure-tackling cornerback with 12 passes defended over the last two seasons.

If the Giants went back to Moreau, well, it would certainly not guarantee the veteran cornerback a starting spot, but it would provide adequate depth behind Banks and, hopefully, Flott. He signed a one-year, $1.3 million contract with the Broncos last season and provided the team with 739 snaps in 15 games (11 starts). It’s not the sexiest move, but it could prove useful, especially if the Giants suffer injuries.

Hassan Ridgeway, DL

Ridgeway had a rough few seasons after showing flashes of potential early in his career. He was drafted in the fourth round by the Colts in 2016. He spent three years in Indianapolis and then three years in Philadelphia before joining the 49ers in 2022. He only played 285 snaps in San Francisco, and a calf injury rendered his time short with Kyle Shanahan.

Ridgeway followed DeMeco Ryans to Houston, but he only played in three games and eventually tore his Achilles. He has 59 pressures and 9.5 sacks in his 995 pass-rushing snaps. Here’s his testing from the 2016 combine:

That was eight years and several injuries ago. Still, the Giants should add depth along their defensive line, specifically quicker players who can act as one-gap penetrators. Most of the Giants’ defensive linemen are 320-plus pounds. Ridgeway is a different build and offers a slightly varied skill set. His situation would make him cost-effective.

Emmanuel Ogbah, edge

I wrote about a potential marriage with the Giants and Ogbah last month. He may very well be too expensive for the Giants, but the team could certainly use his skill set along the defensive front.

The 6-foot-4, 278-pound edge defender provided the Dolphins 612 snaps, 35 pressures, and 7 sacks through two seasons on his massive four-year, $65-million contract extension. In his first two years with the Dolphins, Ogbah played over 750 snaps each season and had over 60 pressures each year. The drop in production – and the contract number – led to his release earlier this off-season.

He may be looking for a prove-it deal, but he would likely have a clearer path to snaps in another situation. However, he could theoretically earn inside snaps next to Dexter Lawrence in passing situations, albeit he’s much more experienced aligning out wide. Still, with Brian Burns, Kayvon Thibodeaux, and Azeez Ojulari on the roster, he could fill a valuable role for the Giants, but it likely would consist of only a few hundred snaps if injuries do not befall the team.

Calais Campbell, DL/edge

I would absolutely love to see Campbell, one of the best veteran defensive linemen available, play next to Dexter Lawrence. He will be 38 years old at the start of the season, but the Giants should still entertain him as an option, albeit he may be looking to play with a true competitor as well. Who better to help guide this potential potent pass rush filled with young players than a player as experienced—and still effective—as Calais Campbell?

Campbell played 712 snaps with Atlanta last year, recording 42 pressures and 6.5 sacks. He is still a stout run defender who can align outside of a four-shade, giving the Giants flexibility to employ him as an end in certain situations.

The 6-foot-8, 285-pound Campbell fills a valuable hole and would have an important role in Shane Bowen’s defense. However, he cost the Falcons seven million on a one-year contract last season. With Waller now released, the Giants could afford Campbell, but it’s fair to question if that’s the most judicious use of the small amount of cap space Schoen has at his disposal.

Latavius Murray, RB

I know, he’s 34 years old. I know the running back is a young man’s position. Still, the Giants could use a bigger-bodied running back to compete – and/or complement – the rest of the running back room.

With Saquon Barkley gone, the Giants have Devin Singletary, Eric Gray, Tyrone Tracy Jr., Jashaun Corbin, and Dante Miller as running backs. Gary Brightwell was recently waived with an injury settlement. It’s fair to assert that the Giants could use another competent player at the position for depth and, possibly, to earn a role when the regular season comes around.

Pro Football Focus lists Jashaun Corbin at 221 pounds, but he weighed 202 pounds at the combine in 2022. I’m uncertain of his actual weight, but I can say that Murray—although nearing Methuselah status for a running back in the NFL—is a big-bodied back who was functional in recent memory.

Murray averaged 3.8 yards per carry last year as the short-yardage back in Buffalo. He had 300 yards on 790 carries with four touchdowns. Prior to 2023, Murray averaged no less than 4.2 yards per carry in every season since 2018. He also spent 2.5 seasons with the Giants’ RB coach, Joel Thomas, as a compliment to Alvin Kamara in 2019, 2020, and 2022. He’s not the most exciting option, but he could earn a role.

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