With the exception of the still-unfolding DeSean Jackson sweepstakes, the gaudy portion of free agency has come and gone. The big names are off the market and the flashy contracts have all been signed.
That doesn’t mean the Cowboys’ divisional rivals in the NFC East have been idle, though. I’ve already written about this some, but it’s worth keeping an eye on: New York, Philadelphia and Washington all continue to make additions that are smart, if not entirely eye-catching.
The Giants continued that trend Tuesday afternoon when they signed offensive tackle Charles Brown to an undisclosed contract. Brown was a second round pick by New Orleans in 2010 and started 22 games in four seasons, 14 of those coming in 2013. Given his lofty overall selection of No. 64, it’s probably fair to say he didn’t quite pan out with the Saints.
That’s not surprising, though – not many players still on the market after three weeks of free agency are what you’d call “in demand.”
You have to admire the Giants’ commitment to fixing their offensive line, though. New York’s front line was decimated by injury last season, as longtime center David Baas and longtime guard Chris Snee combined to play in just six games. Tackle David Diehl dealt with injuries of his own that knocked him out of five games.
The effects were evident, as Eli Manning was sacked 40 times and the Giants struggled to the league’s fourth-worst rushing game.
Baas was cut following the season, and Diehl retired. Snee is returning from injury with hopes of regaining his old form, while the Giants also bring back both tackles – Will Beatty, who struggled to protect Eli Manning’s blindside, and Justin Pugh, who was a rookie.
The offseason agenda, at least on the offensive side of the ball, seems to be focused on fixing those problems. Brown is the fourth offensive lineman the team has signed in free agency, along with Geoff Schwartz, John Jerry and J.D Walton.
As I’ve already noted, none is the type of guy that’s going to grab headlines. For that matter, there’s no guarantee any of them secure a starting job. But all four new additions have started at least one season for another team, and in some cases two.
They can figure out the pecking order in training camp, but they certainly should feel better about their chances of keeping Manning upright and giving new running back Rashad Jennings someone to run behind.
The same type of focus on the secondary could yield some interesting results, as well. While the Giants notably let Justin Tuck leave for Oakland, they re-signed two of their own defensive backs and brought in three proven corners in Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Walter Thurmond and Zack Bowman.
The trio of Antrel Rolle, Stevie Brown and Will Hill, combined with Rodgers-Cromartie, Walter Thurmond, Bowman and Prince Amukamara sounds like an awfully good security blanket for a pass rush that’s going to have to find its way without Tuck.
It’s obviously only April – the draft is still a month off. But the Giants clearly targeted their areas of concern in free agency, and it took them surprisingly little time to revamp them from the disappointments of 2013.