The New York Giants were determined not to let history repeat itself.
Sort of. The referenced history is a massive free-agency spending spree, which the team embarked on in 2014 and again in 2016, which resulted in just one winning season and a playoff berth (2016) before the house of contracts collapsed and left a crater-sized hole in the dead money ledger.
So what makes this year’s free-agent spending spree different?
For starters, nine of the contracts given to new players were for one year, and a fair number of those deals won’t cost the Giants an arm and a leg should they end up having a change of heart or find someone better.
Even those contracts that went for longer periods and more money were creatively structured to allow the Giants to exit from the deals with minimal dead money hitting a future cap year. Cornerback Adoree’ Jackson’s contract is a perfect example of this as his deal has one voidable year in it.
And the benefit of a voidable year is that it allows a team to prorate the signing bonus out over as many years as possible (in Jackson’s case, five years, which is the maximum number of years a signing bonus can be prorated, even though his contract is technically for four years).
Here are a few other benefits the Giants stand to gain following their free-agency spending spree.
There’s No Pressure to Force a Draft Pick at Any One Position
Before even getting started, everyone knew that the team would be in the market for some playmakers on offense. And general manager Dave Gettleman always likes to say the worst thing a team can do at draft time is to pre-determine what positions it needs to have, as doing so almost always results in a mistake.
So Gettleman put the team in a position where it’s not as obvious as to what they might be looking to do in the draft. His two most significant acquisitions, receiver Kenny Golladay and cornerback Adoree’ Jackson, filled important needs that, before free agency draft enthusiasts were mocking players from those same positions to New York at No. 11.
Because the Giants signed players at almost every position, they have greater flexibility in shaping the 53-man roster.
Again, with very few exceptions, most of the contracts they handed out can be trimmed from the books with minimal dead money implications. So if we thought last year's training camp was highly competitive, we probably haven't seen anything yet.
It Gives Them Their Best Circumstances to Trade Down in the First Round
Gettleman has never traded down in the first round of the draft.
By reinforcing the depth at every position, the Giants are probably in their best position yet to trade down and still come out of the first round with a solid player.
And if such a deal were consummated and resulted in the Giants getting a few extra draft picks this year and/or next year, even better.
It Provides Insurance for Positions That Aren’t Plentiful in the draft
Depending on whose opinions you believe, this year’s draft class is strong in some positions and weak in others. While the Giants won’t publicly admit their feelings about each position group in the draft, they’ve protected themselves across the board against being caught short-handed if injuries strike.
For example, if Danny Shelton is the projected starter at nose tackle and he can’t go, the Giants have Austin Johnson and B.J. Hill, who can rotate into the lineup at that spot.
The Giants still could use some additional reinforcement at certain positions, such as running back and edge rusher, unless they have as much faith in the young talent at those spots as they do with the offensive line. But again, they’re not in dire straits where they have to have a player at any one position.