Close to half of the New York Giants‘ players are heading for unrestricted free agency. But after a disappointing 7-9 campaign, it wouldn’t be surprising to see several of these players heading to new teams. That list includes receiver Hakeem Nicks, who is one of the few players who could be in line to receive the Giants’ lone franchise tag. The other two are Linval Joseph and Jon Beason.
While Beason and Joseph are more likely to return to Big Blue than Nicks is, neither is worthy of the franchise tag. Let’s start with Beason. He arrived four games into the season after a trade with the Carolina Panthers that cost the Giants just a seventh-round pick. He was a revelation, solidifying a previously shaky Giants defense that went on to finish the season as the eighth-ranked unit.
He was second on the team with 93 tackles in just 12 games, and added an interception as well. But more important than any number, he was the quarterback of the defense. He filled the role Chase Blackburn previously occupied — a role Blackburn himself proved to be invaluable during the Giants 2011 Super Bowl run. But even after saying all of that, it’s hard to stomach paying Beason as one of the top linebackers in the league.
For starters, the Giants don’t value the linebacker position highly. With all the improvements the team has to make — and the salary cap structured the way it is — the Giants can’t afford to throw that much money at a player who has an extensive injury history and was deemed expendable by his previous team.
Is there a benefit to having Beason back? Absolutely. But does he deserve to be paid as one of the best in the league? Absolutely not. Yes, a franchise tag is only a one-year guarantee, but it gives Beason leverage in negotiations. Remember the Dallas Cowboys franchised Anthony Spencer, and that forced them to offer a large amount of guaranteed money since he was already guaranteed a sizable amount from the franchise tag.
Joseph is another top playmaker for the Giants defense. The team worked hard last offseason to improve the defensive tackle position, and the improvement was surely noticeable. The tackles were arguably the deepest and most talented group on the field. While Joseph might’ve been the best of the bunch, the fact that the unit is so deep works against him.
The Giants signed Cullen Jenkins to a three-year contract just last offseason, and drafted Johnathan Hankins in the second-round in the most recent draft. That’s already a lot of resources for one unit, adding a big contract to that mix doesn’t make sense. If Joseph is coming back, it’ll probably be for below-market value.
You could’ve argued the case for Nicks before the season started. He has been a standout receiver for the Giants, and he was an integral part of the Super Bowl win back in 2011. Since then, injuries have taken their toll, and he has put together two subpar years. There’s even the sense the coaching staff wasn’t completely pleased with his effort level.
Some believe he was trying to avoid injury as he headed into free agency. Why would you want to have that player on another one-year deal? And do you feel comfortable handing him a lucrative contract?
The Giants likely have a price in mind for all their free agents. If anyone is coming back, it will be on the front office’s terms. This has already been evident with the Justin Tuck negotiations. After the season they had, I can’t imagine any of these players being irreplaceable, and certainly none of them deserve a franchise tag that the Giants seldom use anyway.