The NFL offseason will kick into high gear next week with the annual NFL Scouting Combine, when the entire league converges upon Indianapolis.What do Giants cuts mean for JPP?
The combine is about evaluating prospects for April's NFL Draft, but it is also the unofficial start of free agency, as teams and agents meet to get rough estimates about the market ahead of the start of the legal tampering period on March 7, and the start of free agency on March 9.
Over the next few days, the Giants' offseason outlook for each position group will be examined. Here's the rundown on the defensive ends:
GIANTS DEFENSIVE ENDS OFFSEASON OUTLOOK:
Giants under contract: Olivier Vernon (through 2021); Owa Odighizuwa (2018); Romeo Okwara (2018/RFA); Stansly Maponga (futures); Jordan Williams (futures).
Giants free agents: Jason Pierre-Paul; Kerry Wynn (RFA).
Position priority: High. If Pierre-Paul leaves, it might be the team's biggest need. If he stays, the Giants should still consider signing an end or adding one with a high draft pick. They desperately need to add more proven pass rush production.
The Giants had 35 sacks as a team in 2016 (tied for 14th in the NFL). Pierre-Paul and Vernon had 15.5 sacks together. The Giant defensive backs had eight. Odighizuwa, Okwara and Wynn combined for 1.5. Excluding Vernon, the ends currently under contract for 2017 have two sacks total in their careers.
Top free agents: Calais Campbell, Cardinals; Melvin Ingram, Chargers; Chandler Jones, Cardinals*; Nick Perry, Packers; Pierre-Paul.
* -- likely to get franchise tag
NFL top 50 free agents in 2017
Second-tier free agents: Mario Addison, Panthers; Barkevious Mingo, Patriots; Chris Baker, Redskins; Charles Johnson, Panthers; Chris Long, Patriots; Jared Odrick, Jaguars; Jabaal Sheard, Patriots; DeMarcus Ware, Broncos.
What to expect in the offseason: It all starts with Pierre-Paul. The Giants want him back, he wants to be back, but the money has to be there. The situation should become a bit clearer as the franchise tag deadline fast approaches. If the Giants do not tag Pierre-Paul and lose him on the open market, they could pivot and go after another one of the top options. Ingram may demand even more money than Pierre-Paul, though. Perry could be an interesting target, but a team with a 3-4 scheme may outbid. If Pierre-Paul leaves, the Giants' best bet would likely be to sign one or two of the second-tier veterans on short-term deals and look to the draft to land a long-term replacement.
Draft strategy: Selecting a pass rusher should be in play from the first round on. The Giants have been connected to several ends in mock drafts, chiefly Michigan's Taco Charlton and Tennessee's Derek Barnett. If Pierre-Paul returns, the Giants' best bet would be to land an end who can move inside on pass downs. The need for an extra pass rusher goes beyond production - the Giants need to reduce snap counts on Vernon (and Pierre-Paul if he returns) in 2017.
James Kratch may be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JamesKratch. Find our Giants coverage on Facebook.
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