The 2022 free agency period is unlikely to compare to the excitement of the 2021 period for the New York Football Giants. 2021 saw the franchise land big-ticket signings CB Adoree’ Jackson and WR Kenny Golladay. The old regime spent big-time money in the free-agent market a year ago, a luxury Joe Schoen does not have this time around.
Despite this, there have already been several key moves that will impact the future of the franchise. This is part two of a two-part series looking at the new era of Giants football in New York.
A number of key players from the Dave Gettleman administration are on expiring contracts, a situation which Joe Schoen now has to manage. Below we look at a couple of important players who became free agents at the end of the 2021 season.
Evan Engram – Tight End
Former Giants TE Evan Engram has already signed a 1-year, $9 million deal with the Jaguars, proving too expensive for the Giants to bring back. In Engram’s five seasons in New York, the 2017 first-round pick accumulated 262 receptions for 2,828 yards and 16 touchdowns, including a team-high 6 in his rookie season.
Engram’s stint in New York will not be remembered for touchdowns, however, with the pro-bowler having issues with drops throughout his time in East Rutherford, resulting in a complicated relationship with the fan base.
A fresh start is likely to be the best situation for both parties, with the Giants already making a move to sign former Washington TE Ricky Seals-Jones to a one-year, $1.2m deal. The contract is significantly less than it would have cost to re-sign Engram and keeps the door open for the Giants to draft a long-term replacement on day two or three of the draft, should they find a prospect they like.
Jabrill Peppers – Safety
It is expected SS Jabrill Peppers will follow Engram out the door before the start of the 2022 season. The exciting safety spent three seasons with the Giants after being a part of the trade package which saw WR Odell Beckham Jr. leave New York for Cleveland after the 2018 season.
The former first-round pick is likely to attract interest from teams in much healthier salary cap positions than the Giants, despite suffering a season-ending ACL injury during the 2021 season.
The most glaring need on the roster heading into the 2022 league year is the offensive line. The line ranked 30th in the league according to Pro Football Focus in 2021, up 1 place from their 2020 ranking of 31st.
Dave Gettleman was only able to draft one competent lineman in his four-year tenure as the Giants’ general manager – left tackle Andrew Thomas. Entering free agency the team is in the market for up to four starting linemen, with depth at all five positions desperately required.
It is therefore music to Giants fan’s ears that Schoen has already made four early moves in free agency to help protect Daniel Jones. The team have signed C Jon Feliciano, OG Mark Glowinski, and versatile linemen Matt Gono and Jamil Douglas. While it is likely Gono and Douglas will be depth pieces on the line, the other two signings have the potential to start for the Giants from week 1 of the 2022 season.
Jon Feliciano – Center
Schoen and the Giants agreed to terms with free-agent offensive lineman Jon Feliciano. The 7-year pro has been signed to a 1-year deal to play center for the G-men in 2022.
The signing is likely to raise a few eyebrows in New York, with only 2 of his 43 career starts being at center.
The position, however, is a key area of need for the Giants. Starting center Nick Gates’ availability is unclear after suffering a season-ending lower leg fracture in week 2 of the 2021 season. Gates himself has stated he is unsure when, or even if, he will be able to return to playing football at the highest level and so it is no surprise to see a free agent signed to fill the position.
Feliciano, previously with the Bills and Raiders, has experience with new Giants head coach Brian Daboll, as well as offensive line coach Bobby Johnson, as both had spent time with the Bills prior to 2022.
The previous connection appears to have been a key factor in Feliciano and the Giants reaching an agreement, with the veteran stating in a zoom call shortly after signing that he had discussed his desire to start at center with both Daboll and Johnson before signing the 1-year deal.
Mark Glowinski – Guard
The Giants signed Mark Glowinski to a 3-year, $18.3 million deal. The veteran guard has spent the last five seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, starting 14 games for the team which made the wildcard round in 2021.
Glowinski is an instant upgrade at the position for the Giants and barring any further free agent or draft moves will be a starting guard for the team in 2022.
Like Feliciano, Glowinski is also reuniting with Bobby Johnson, with Johnson previously being the assistant offensive line coach with the Colts. The 6-foot-4 guard, who provides an immediate improvement in pass protection, has particularly excelled in run blocking during his NFL career.
The Giants will hope to utilize this to help unleash Saquon Barkley, with the star running back averaging less than 2 yards before contact in 2021.
Tyrod Taylor – Quarterback
The Giants and Tyrod Taylor reached an agreement on a two-year, $11 million deal shortly after the new league year started. The 11-year veteran was considered one of the best backup Quarterbacks available on the free-agent market and provides an immediate upgrade to the QB room which the Giants operated with during 2021.
While Daniel Jones will enter the new season as the starter in New York, the 24-year-old is certainly not considered a lock to be the Giant’s QB moving forward. Jones has struggled in his time as the Giants starter and missed the final six games of the 2021 season with a neck injury suffered against the Eagles on Nov. 28, with his final game under center also representing the last win of the Giants’ season.
After Jones went out for the season, a combination of Mike Glennon and Jake Fromm went 0-6 to finish the year, averaging under 10 points per game in that period. Taylor is a significant upgrade over both Glennon and Fromm, with the veteran providing a threat both through the air and on the ground, having 19 career-rushing TDs under his belt.
The structure of the deal is perhaps the most telling part of the signing. While the average salary is $5.5 million a year plus incentives, much of the hit to the salary cap occurs in 2023.
Schoen now has the flexibility to move on from Daniel Jones if his 2022 performance does not warrant a new contract. Taylor will be on contract in 2023 and would be a great mentor to a potentially newly drafted franchise QB, should Schoen and the Giants take this route.
A key indication of the future of the franchise at the position will come on May 2nd, as Schoen and the Giants will need to officially activate Daniel Jones’ 5th-year option by this date.
Either way, the quarterback situation in New York creates a fascinating storyline to watch during what might be an otherwise uninspiring 2022 campaign.
Matt Breida – Running Back
Veteran running back Matt Breida signed a one-year deal with the Giants. Most recently with the Bills, the 5-year pro has 13 career TDs. Breida joins a running back room that, outside of Saquon Barkley, is lacking talent and NFL experience.
If the season started today Breida would likely be the RB2 for the Giants but they are rumored to be interested in drafting a RB on day two or three of the 2022 draft.
The signing, initially a depth move, becomes far more interesting if the Giants trade Barkley – a rumor which has been circulating all offseason. Breida would then become the presumptive starting running back, likely playing a mentoring role for a rookie, should the Giants draft one.
Overall the new regime is a breath of fresh air for Giants fans desperate to see light at the end of a decade-long tunnel. Schoen and the organization have shown that they are committed to a rebuild, clearing out salary space in future years, as well as putting in place options to reassess key positions, such as QB, after the 2022 season.
A slow and steady rebuild may not be the most attractive prospect to the Giants faithful, but, long removed from the days of Superbowl runs and championship parades in the big apple, big blue may soon have reason to dream of a return to the postseason.
Keep an eye out for overtime heroics Giants 2022 mock draft coming in April to see how the Giants can best use the significant draft capital at their disposal to build on a promising start to the Joe Schoen era.
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