The Most Important New York Giants Free-Agent Signings

Which free agent signings were the most important for the New York Giants?
Dec 10, 2023; Santa Clara, California, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Drew Lock (2) yells after throwing a touchdown pass against the San Francisco 49ers during the third quarter at Levi's Stadium.
Dec 10, 2023; Santa Clara, California, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Drew Lock (2) yells after throwing a touchdown pass against the San Francisco 49ers during the third quarter at Levi's Stadium. / Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
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The New York Giants went out this offseason and addressed multiple glaring team needs with moves like trading for Carolina Panthers star edge rusher Brian Burns and using a first-round pick to draft LSU wide receiver Malik Nabers.

Those are the big moves that help sell jerseys and tickets, but the moves made with unrestricted free agents helped fill out this roster and get them closer to where they need to be in order to be competitive.

Which were the most important free agent signings made? Here is our list.

QB Drew Lock

The likely outcome here is that Drew Lock loses to Daniel Jones in a quarterback competition before the season. That doesn’t mean that adding Lock wasn’t the most important signing though.

Lock has spent the past two seasons backing up Geno Smith with the Seattle Seahawks, appearing in four games with a 63.2 percent completion percentage, 543 passing yards, three touchdowns, and three interceptions. 

With Lock’s skillset, he’s a more aggressive option at quarterback than Jones is but he’s proven capable of being a fine option in a pinch at the worst.

The contract that the Giants signed Lock to is just a one-year deal worth $5 million that keeps him as one of the lowest-paid starting quarterbacks if he wins the job and one of the highest-paid backups if he loses the job. 

The risk is low and the reward is high if he needs to start at any point, which most QBs backing up Jones have had to do at some point.

Jon Runyan
Sep 10, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Green Bay Packers guard Jon Runyan (76) and center Josh Myers (71) clear a path for running back Aaron Jones (33) during the third quarter of their regular season opening game at Soldier Field. / Mark Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

OL Jon Runyan, Jr

The Giants placed an added emphasis on addressing the offensive line in free agency and brought in Jon Runyan Jr. from the Green Bay Packers to do it. 

Runyan has had an up-and-down career to this point, struggling as a run blocker specifically, but I think he’ll be better suited to work in the Giants' system.

I’ve long said that the Giants will shift toward a more gap-based run game, which will better suit Runyan’s skill set than the Packers’ wide zone style. Runyan will significantly improve the Giants' pass protection.

Runyan allowed just two sacks all last season. Both of them came in the first half of the season, and one of them was to retired Rams star Aaron Donald. The Giants, on the other hand, gave up 18 sacks allowed by their guards in 2023, a disgustingly bad showing.

New York Giants offensive lineman Jermaine Eluemunor
New York Giants offensive lineman Jermaine Eluemunor / Patricia Traina - New York Giants on SI

OL Jermaine Eluemunor

Another offensive lineman the Giants brought in was Jermaine Eluemunor from the Las Vegas Raiders. Eluemunor comes in with experience with the New York Giants' new offensive line coach, Carmen Bricillo, who was the offensive line coach in Las Vegas.

The level of versatility and experience that Eluemunor brings to the table for the Giants is invaluable. Through his first seven seasons in the NFL, he’s played significant snaps at both tackle spots as well as right guard. 

The expectation for 2024 is that Eluemunor will play guard with the ability to slide out to tackle if needed. Eluemunor gave up six sacks in 2023 but was also playing tackle, so he will have more help in 2024.

If the Giants do make the aforementioned move to a gap-based scheme, Eluemunor’s familiarity will help that transition.

Devin Singletary
Jan 20, 2024; Baltimore, MD, USA; Houston Texans running back Devin Singletary (26) reacts after making a first down against the Baltimore Ravens during the first quarter of a 2024 AFC divisional round game at M&T Bank Stadium. / Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

RB Devin Singletary

Former Giants running back Saquon Barkley left the team in free agency to go to the Philadelphia Eagles. To replace him, the Giants added Devin Singletary from the Houston Texans on a three-year contract worth $16.5 million with $9.5 million guaranteed.

Singletary had a career-high in rushing yards in 2023 and his third-straight season with over 1,000 scrimmage yards. It’s not realistic to expect Singletary to play better than Barkley, however with an improved offensive line, the rushing production could be replicated. 

As a receiver, Singletary is nothing more than a checkdown option but the rest of the committee should be more creative.

cornerback Jalen Mills
Dec 17, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots cornerback Jalen Mills (2) warms up before a game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Gillette Stadium. / Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

S Jalen Mills

The Giants' signing of Jalen Mills was fairly under the radar, and there’s a decent chance he won’t even start the whole season in 2024 if he makes the 53-man roster. That doesn’t mean his addition isn’t important, however. 

Mills is one of the most versatile defensive backs in the NFL, having spent significant time as a nickel, safety, and outside cornerback. That kind of skillset is rare, let alone someone who can play all of those positions without being a liability at any of them.

My expectation is that Mills will compete for a starting spot at safety initially. If/when Tyler Nubin is ready to take over next to Jason Pinnock, we see Mills become a rotational piece at multiple spots. 

Mills' experience in multiple defensive schemes, some of which were very zone-heavy, should help him be a veteran presence that young defensive backs can rely on.

Chris Manhertz
Nov 13, 2023; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Denver Broncos tight end Chris Manhertz (84) goes to the locker room before a game against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium. / Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

TE Chris Manhertz

Chris Manhertz has been one of the more reliable blocking tight ends in the NFL for the past few seasons now. He’s never been much of a contributor as a pass-catcher but he’s consistently found himself making rosters and finding playing time because of his blocking ability.

While Daniel Bellinger will likely be the Giants' starting tight end in 2024, Manhertz could realistically be the first man up to rotate in as an in-line option and could start if Bellinger were to go down at all. Manhertz has experience flexing out into the slot or out wide, but he’s best suited as an in-line option, while Bellinger can flex out to have a legit blocking presence on the field. 

I would also expect Manhertz to find success as a blocker on kick returns with the new kickoff rules.

wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie
Nov 12, 2023; Frankfurt, Germany; Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie (6) makes a catch against the New England Patriots in the third quarter during an International Series game at Deutsche Bank Park. / Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

WR Isaiah McKenzie

Speaking of the new kickoff rules, Isaiah McKenzie could find a role as a return man for the Giants in 2024 since he has plenty of experience already in that area. McKenzie has returned 142 kicks in his seven-year NFL career and has returned one for a touchdown.

McKenzie has never been a big-time contributor at the NFL level, and 2023 was a down year for him with the Colts following Josh Downs' breakout in the slot. As many veterans have done after down seasons, McKenzie has signed with a team that brings him some familiarity and comfort where he previously found success.

From 2018-2022, McKenzie was a Buffalo Bill that had significant overlap with head coach Brian Daboll, who used McKenzie all over the formation as a runner and receiver. With how young the Giants receiver room is, this could be a welcome addition.

It’s also understated that with Daboll likely taking over play-calling duties full-time this is a signing that could give Daboll a little bit of familiarity and comfort as well.



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Brandon Olsen

BRANDON OLSEN

Brandon Olsen is the founder of Whole Nine Sports, specializing in NFL Draft coverage, and is the host of the Locked On Gators Podcast.