After the furious start to free agency that saw the Giants sign five players and re-sign one, morning came, and with it, a calm. No new signing were announced, no exciting rumors floated, but two familiar faces will be rejoining the team in 2015, fullback Henry Hynoski and linebacker Mark Herzlich.
Hynoski is entering his fifth NFL season, all with the Giants, after joining the team as a free agent out of Pittsburgh University in 2011. His primary role is run blocking, an area where he excels. Hynoski is the second highest rated run blocking fullback for 2014 according to the profootballfocus.com (PFF) rankings behind only the Kansas City Chiefs Anthony Sherman. Tom Coughlin has expressed a desire to return to a power running style as part of the short passing game featured in Ben McAdoo’s west coast offense, and Hynoski’s lead blocking will plow the road for Rashad Jennings, Andre Williams, and newcomer Shane Vereen.
According to his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, Hynoski signed a 2 year, $2 million dollar contract to return to the Giants, and matches his 2014 salary. Having missed 13 games in 2013 with a shoulder injury, Hynoski struggled early last season with another, but rebounded to turn in a solid season. He’ll now look to improve upon that as he heads into 2015 at full health.
Herzlich, known for his special teams prowess, started 8 games for the Giants at strong side linebacker and excelled at run defense. He struggled in coverage, often turned around or out of position, while opponent’s running backs and tight ends ran free for large gains. With free agent linebackers Jonathan Casillas and J.T. Thomas added to the roster yesterday, Herzlich will face competition for his roster spot, and his special teams performance will have to rebound to pre-2014 levels in order for him to secure it. Herzlich’s performance on special teams suffered last season, attributable to his focus on the starting defense. Details on Herzlich’s contract are not yet available.
Contract details regarding four of the six players signed yesterday were revealed by overthecap.com, with three coming close to the estimates Giants360 provided in our evening update yesterday. Chris Ogbannaya will count $610,000 against the 2015 salary cap as he fights for a roster spot in a suddenly crowded backfield. There was speculation that Ogbannaya might be considered for the fullback position prior to Hynoski re-signing.
Shane Vereen’s first year is a manageable $2.52 million dollar cap charge, approximately $100,000 more than the estimate previously provided. If he returns to his injury prone ways and the Giants choose to release him next season when his cap charge jumps up to $4.9 million, he generates a manageable $2.3 million in dead money, which drops to $1.2 million in 2017. Given the explosive potential Vereen provides on an offense with Odell Beckham and a healthy Victor Cruz, his contract is not outlandish.
Marshall Newhouse signed a contract that indicated the Giants view him as the backup, swing tackle on the offensive line. His 2015 cap charge is $1.3 million, spot on the Giants360 estimate, and it jumps to a palatable $1.7 million in 2016. If only Newhouse’s pass protecting skills were as palatable.
When reviewing J.T. Thomas’ history and ratings, he presents as a backup linebacker and special teams player, but his contract indicated that the Giants view him differently. With a $2 million cap charge in 2015, Thomas is being paid like a low end starter, and the charge doubles to $4 Million in both 2016 and 2017. If his play mirrors his PFF ratings and the Giants want to part ways next season, he will generate over $2.5 million in dead money, more than Shane Vereen. The Thomas signing has all the markers of a bad Jerry Reese contract, potentially David Baas bad, although the dead money is not of the same magnitude.
Jonathan Casillas received a contract more in line with a backup linebacker and special teams player, even though his PFF ratings are more impressive than J.T. Thomas’, although it may be a function of minumal snaps. With only a $2 million signing bonus to amortize, Casillas will count just $1.67 million against the salary cap this season. When his salary jumps in 2016, his cap charge jumps to $3.17 million, but he can be released with deal money of just $1.34 million if the team wants to move in another direction.
Both Thomas and Casillas appears to be more than special teams signings, as they are young and athletic, Steve Spagnuolo may have an eye toward developing their skills within his scheme. A contract breakdown for Dwayne Harris is not yet available. Giants360 will bring you a detailed analysis when we have the information.
The hot topic of conversation for the Giants remains a glaring need for an experienced safety. Rahim Moore and Ron Parker are remain unsigned and are making the rounds to interested teams. Moore visited Houston, and Parker, Chicago, who is also hosting former Giant Antrel Rolle. The Giants have not announced visits for either Moore or Parker.
Parker has a Giants connection through wide receiver Corey Washington. Both are Newberry College alumni and are workout partners in the off season. Washington is said to be recruiting Parker to the Giants through this connection. Given Parker’s scheduled visit with the Bears, Washington’s impact as a recruiter appears minimal.
While there has been no formal announcement, there have been several reports that a one year contract extension for Tom Coughlin is imminent. In line with the Giants practice of not permitting a head coach to enter a season on the final year of his contract, an extension has been rumored for Coughlin since the Scouting Combine last month. He will still enter the season firmly on the hot seat if the team is viewed as under performing.
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