Start With Offensive Line, Then Move On To Linebacker Before Hitting Tight End

By Steve Silverman
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Hey, Jerry Reese, are you prepared for free agency?

The Giants’ general manager has proven himself quite worthy when it comes to protecting the assets of the Mara and Tisch families, but that should not be his biggest concern.

Instead, Reese has to go about the business of restoring the sheen to the New York Giants franchise. At the very least, this team needs to win the very mediocre NFC East next season. There’s probably too much work to do to get the Giants on even terms with the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers, but that’s where Reese needs to be aiming.

The first step, of course, is free agency. The official rules of the game say you can’t sign a player until March 11, but deals will be made starting Saturday. That’s when NFL general managers and their emissaries can start making deals with agents.

In the case of the Giants, they should be looking at five free agents that can help the team climb in the standings. The Giants have big needs on the offensive line and at linebacker, and they can also use some help at tight end.

They could also use a solid running back, but that’s a position that will be better attacked with middle-round selections in the upcoming draft.

It’s time for Reese to get his potential signees lined up. The Giants have failed to make the playoffs each of the last two seasons, and Reese can no longer hang his hat on past achievements. He is in the same boat as quarterback Eli Manning, as both have much to prove in 2014.

Here are the players that the Giants need to pursue with a purpose in free agency:

OG Jon Asamoah, Kansas City – The Giants need help with their interior offensive line, and Asamoah started most of the season for the Chiefs before he was replaced by Geoff Schwartz. However, the 6-foot-4, 306-pound Asamoah has the skills to give the Giants an upgrade at the position. His feet are quick enough and he has the strength in his hands to open holes or redirect pass rushers. Asamoah was a third-round draft pick out of Illinois in 2010, and has four full years of experience. He is about to come into his own, and he is not going to come close to breaking the bank. That should please Reese greatly.

OG Zane Beadles, Denver – It wouldn’t be the end of the world if the Giants picked up Beadles in addition to Asamoah. Beadles was also drafted in 2010 and was quite consistent for the Broncos, starting 62 of 64 games. He looks the part at 6-4 and 310 pounds, and he is going to give you everything he has for 60 minutes. He certainly did his part protecting Peyton Manning, but the Broncos’ quarterback gets rid of the ball faster than any other passer in the league. If Reese can only get one of these guards, it should be Asamoah.

LB Karlos Dansby, Arizona – His middle name is Montez, but it might as well be Monster after the year he just had. Dansby was dynamic for the Cardinals with 121 tackles, 6.5 sacks and four interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. Critics say that his productivity was based on the scheme the Cardinals were using that funneled ball carriers in his direction, but further analysis showed that Dansby was playing at top speed, dominated blockers and was hungry to make an impact on every snap. You can’t go wrong with that kind of direction.

LB Brandon Spikes, New England – Spikes is the kind of hard-hitting linebacker who could help the Giants establish a strong defensive identity from the start of the season. Spikes is one of the best run defenders at his position because he rarely misses tackles and he usually punishes opponents when he brings them to the ground. He has had problems keeping his emotions in check, but is trending in the right direction in that area and could be quite a pick-up.

TE Garrett Graham, Houston – This would not be an area of need if the Giants hadn’t let Martellus Bennett get away last year and sign with the Bears. Jermichael Finley would appear to have the most potential of any of the tight ends available, but he is coming off cervical fusion surgery and it’s hard to see him playing with abandon and staying healthy in the future. Graham can catch the ball and he doesn’t need to have a picture-perfect throw to make the reception. That’s what makes him a better option than Detroit’s Brandon Pettigrew, who is simply unreliable.

Follow Steve on Twitter at @ProFootballBoy

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