Rather quietly, in the shadows of the DeSean Jackson- and Michael Vick-fueled ruckus elsewhere in their division, the New York Giants have pulled off a fairly significant overhaul of their roster this offseason.
The latest move: New York signed ex-Broncos DE Robert Ayers to a two-year deal on Wednesday. Ayers is the 14th player added from outside the organization this offseason, ranging from high-profile additions like Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to overlooked pickups like those of Trindon Holliday and Rashad Jennings. The ongoing result is that while the heart and soul of the 2014 Giants looks familiar -- Eli Manning, Victor Cruz, Jason Pierre-Paul, etc. -- the pieces around them will have undergone plenty of changes.
Despite coming off a career-year (5.5 sacks) in Denver, the 28-year-old Ayers found his market surprisingly quiet for the first few weeks of free agency. The inactivity played to the Giants' benefit. Ayers may not replace the 11 sacks delivered by Justin Tuck last season (Tuck signed with the Raiders), but he provides a decent fallback option as New York recalibrates up front.
There remain issues for the Giants to address, namely at defensive tackle, wide receiver, tight end and possibly in the secondary. Most of the pieces they have picked up thus far, though, will be expected to contribute in 2014.
Though Rodgers-Cromartie was the headliner of the class, at least a handful of other signees could wind up in the starting lineup, including Geoff Schwartz, Charles Brown, Jennings (if David Wilson is slow coming back from injury), Walter Thurmond and Jameel McClain. Without breaking the bank on any move, the Giants definitely appear to have upgraded their depth chart, despite losing Linval Joseph, Hakeem Nicks and Tuck.
The Giants have not often been this active early in free agency, so a lot could have gone wrong with the change of pace. Instead, GM Jerry Reese has done -- at least on paper -- some intelligent and necessary work.
In addition to keeping their roster on track, the Giants' moves have left the door wide open heading into the draft. Those few aforementioned potential holes could be addressed in Round 1. But Reese has few, if any, glaring issues to deal with next month at Radio City Music Hall. Ayers' addition may not turn the Giants from the 7-9 team they were last season into a Super Bowl contender. It does, however, fall in line with Reese's crafty efforts since free agency opened. Though the latest signing won't bump Jackson from the national headlines, it will help the Giants.