2023 Giants Free Agency Part 2

We spoke with Wonder, the UltimateNYG Draft Analyst, about what the Giants have done here in Free Agency. He was nothing short of glowing. “Schoen has been unbelievable.”

“The Giants are going to be MUCH better, I mean muucchhhh better than last year. Their record may not look a lot better than 9-7-1 but they will be a much better team.”

“The Eagles will not be the Eagles this year. Salary cap casualties galore.”

“I thought Darren Waller was pretty healthy last year, but he was dinged up with bumps and bruises. That stuff can be cyclical, so I think he can just as easily be at full strength this season. For what the Giants paid, a 3.100 (practically a comp pick), that is a ridiculous price. It is a joke. It is a steal. This guy can easily become Daniel Jones’ best friend. I had him as the 3rd best TE in the NFL last year behind Kittle and Kelce. That is how good he is. If he can stay on the field, it is gigantic for the Giants,” said Wonder.

Scheme-wise, there are so many ways Waller helps your team. Wonder notes: Double TE set at Goal line, what does a Defense do when the ball can go to Barkley, or either of your two TEs (Waller, Bellinger) can slip out? That is just brutal to cover.

Onto Parris Campbell. Let’s go back 4 years ago to what Wonder said about the player pre-Draft.

16. WR Parris Campbell. So good, so fast, cuts on a dime, hands of glue. I’d take him at 1.17 if Haskins taken 1.06. (Andy’s only note here- Dread.) Good guy. Incredible feet and quickness. Not musclebound. But sleek. End arounds, bubble screens. Snatches the ball out of the air like no one I have seen. Once he gets the ball, forget it. Can put on 10-12 lbs of muscle w/o losing any speed. Insane vertical. Crazy quick. How does anyone cover this guy in the slot/option routes?! Improved every single year of college. His career is predicated on who his QB is and where he goes. Absolutely love this guy. Comparison: OBJ with less baggage.

Wonder’s 2019 Draft Board

Now we fast forward to 2023, and Campbell has been oft-injured. But here is where Schoen shines again. He pays $3M + another $3M in incentives for 1 year. It is a ‘show me’ deal. Prove it. Work your tail off to get a big contract. “Campbell played with a horrible QB who had to be benched last year. Campbell was open all the time. Schoen got him so freaking cheap. If he can communicate in the slot with Jones on 3rd and 5, he will be unguardable. Brady did this with Wes Welker and Julian Edelman. The only way to stop it is to double team it. For the money they paid, it is all upside, no downside, a helluva deal.”

Onto the new hoover vacuum cleaner Linebacker. Bobby Okereke got panned by some, who thought the Giants could have done better or gone a different direction for the money. Wonder disagrees. “He is a very good signing. Good team player. Athletic. My vibe/sense is that he is a good locker room guy who his teammates want to be around. He plays tough. I like guys who have a nose for the ball, and Okereke seems to always be around the ball. Whether it is tips, or fumble recoveries, or just being a tackling machine, I like him. I want guys like this who just make plays.”

What about overpaying for Running Back with Saquon Barkley? Wonder actually disagrees with this NY Giants blogger. “Barkley, yes, is $4M more than you spend on a RB, but he is great for the locker room, his teammates like him, he’s a hard worker, and he is talented. What they did in tagging him was ok. Emotionally he means a lot to the team. So I was ok with that tag. It’s $4M. If that is the price of locker room harmony, I am ok with it.”

They still need a WR Receiver, a Mike Evans big guy. DeAndre Hopkins in a trade? Hopkins has a lot left. Even at 31, he catches everything, unguardable. But you won’t be able to fit him into the cap. Maybe they get lucky in R2.

If the Jets release Denzel Mims 6’3 220, I’d be on the lookout for a guy like that. The Jets wasted him. If Rodgers forces the Jets to get a guy like Cobb, Mims might be had for cheap.

SUMMARY: Schoen has really done some great work in extracting value out of the Free Agent/trade market, which is not easy to do. You have to compare this to what our same Draft Analyst said about Dave Gettleman when he overpaid for players like Nate Solder, Patrick Omameh and Golden Tate. It is on the record:

These historic comments about other moves show that just because it is March does not mean Wonder is kissing the Giants ***. He is not a homer. He won’t be perfect, but he will call it the way he sees it. That is a lot better than the rest, who are either riding the fence or always sunny.

2023 Giants Free Agency+

We are not going to do any deep dives, but want to quickly share some preliminary thoughts on the NY Giants’ front office moves after the start of Free Agency.

The big splash move is signing former Colts LB Bobby Okereke. They paid $40M for 4 years, with $22M guaranteed. Wonder commented positively on the move. “Okereke is a tackling machine. The Giants got themselves a very solid player. He is a 3 down LBer who covers okay. The contract is reasonably priced.”

“The guaranteed money, at ~50% is in line with what they needed to do,” said the UltimateNYG draft analyst. Wonder noted that Okereke is better than where Blake Martinez was pre-injury. “This move fills a big need at the right price, giving Schoen more flexibility in next month’s draft.”

As the offseason began, I put out a poll on Twitter for where the Giants should go with their Round 1.25 pick.

Of course the correct answer is to Trade Down. My last choice would have been to take a Wide Receiver, given I have shown over and over what a waste of Round 1 draft capital it is for a position that is ALWAYS AVAILABLE. What other position could see elite players like AJ Brown, OBJ, DeAndre Hopkins, Tyreek Hill and Devante Adams all become available via trade in their prime? Please, name me another position on the field where 5 elite All Pro players are made available? My second choice in the poll, the one position of greatest need this offseason, was Linebacker. That Joe Schoen made his big 2023 splash on LBer shows what we have been saying about the new Giants GM- he is a disciplined, smart, organized leader who has a plan and knows how to execute on the plan.

And speaking about finding a receiving option, always available, the Giants may have found one…

The TE Darren Waller move is a high reward, relatively low risk play. If Waller is healthy, it is a score. Waller could easily become Jones’ best receiving target. If Waller is not healthy, he has 1 year of cap money, and the Giants will have lost a late Round 3 draft pick (the 3.100 KC Toney pick). That is the risk. I am not expecting Waller to fail his physical, but the Giants can use that toggle to their advantage in keeping the trade low/er risk. I have to imagine that the Giants would not have made this deal if Waller was a significant risk to simply burn the salary and draft pick.

Schneier and Falato talk scheme in how Waller will fit in. They are glowing in the risk vs reward. 12 Personnel! Bellinger and Waller. The coaching staff knows how to use the Tight End. If healthy, it is a gamechanger.

The re-signing of RB Matt Breida is a thumbs up. Breida can do it all. He is a quality backup who can deliver the plays for $2M. What is not to like?!

The signing of IDL Rakeem Nunez-Roches is competent roster filler. Ok player. A backup who can take some decent snaps.

The Giants re-signed WR Isaiah Hodgins. They got him for 1 year and $1M. That to me is a freaking steal. I would have preferred to get more term on that deal.

The Giants re-signed P Jamie Gillen. I was not a fan of Gillen and would have preferred the Giants go in another direction, preferably one where the punts angle properly and do not end up in the end zone for touchbacks.

SUMMARY: The Okereke FA signing is the big move of Giants Free Agency. It addresses probably the biggest need of the offseason, enabling the Giants to go in many different directions in the draft. I still prefer they trade completely out of Round 1 and get more Round 2 players, given their needs at so many positions. This makes even more sense given that they traded away 3.100 and got a major receiving threat. Round 2, all steak, no sizzle.

EXTRA: What is the best thing to have happened this offseason to the Gmen? Everyone will point to re-signing Jones. Of course that is huge. But the stroke of luck is that Mike Kafka is back at Offensive Coordinator. Getting him and Jones together for a second consecutive year is enormous for the entire franchise. Things are shaping up very well for the Gmen. If Evan Neal can make progress, this team rates to be very competitive.

Giants 2023 Offseason

Twas the day after Christmas
This blog predicted moans
‘Cause a stealth bull market was brewing
For a kid named Jones

There is little question that Joe Schoen is going to re-sign Jones. He will end up paying Jones more than you think. It will be QB eye-popping numbers. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Even his biggest proponents will take pause when they see the tab. But that is the price of the most important position on the field. There are readers of this NY Giants blog that harbor doubts about Jones. They will be skeptical about Jones being worthy of the insane money that Schoen is going to pay him this offseason. A franchise tag may be part of those negotiations. Jones has earned the contract. 

UltimateNYG, Daniel Jones Franchise QB, Dec 26 2022

People were delusional about $20M. Still delusional about $25M. $30M? Think again. It is now almost two months later, and here we are here with QB eye-popping numbers. Schwartz is thinking ($190M over 5 years for) $38M.

And then Florio drops a $45M number for what Daniel Jones’s camp (may be?) floating, and every Giants fan is freaking out. Predictably. Despite my warning.


This is a classic negotiating tactic called anchoring. You mention a super high (or if buying, low) number to start discussions to psychologically “anchor” the other side to a high starting price. It has already worked. On you. Because when Jones ends up with a deal in the high $30’s per year, you’ll think that Jones gave up something. And you will be happy that he did not sign at $45M. Jones is not getting $45M. He knows that. But he is going to get mid to high $30’s, which most Giants fans would never have believed even a short while ago.

Let’s shift gears to Jones’ contract sparring partner, Saquon Barkley. The two go seemingly hand in hand this offseason in questioning how Schoen will handle them. For our opinion on Barkley, you have to go back another 2 months to October 23. It has not changed:

Pacheco’s cap hit is $0.7M. I am surprised it is that large, but that only tells me the cost of re-signing Barkley is going to be ginormous, ~20X near $15M per yr, if some NFL team is stupid enough to pay that. The problem for these second RB contracts is they are a cap suck. Elliott is 6 yrs $90M. McCaffrey is 4 yrs $64M (and Carolina got out of that quickly enough). The takeaway is simple- every dollar you blow at this position, you have less to pay the Left Tackles, the Edge Rushers and the Quarterbacks. You can get 80-90% of Barkley for 10-20-30% of the cost. Aren’t the Breidas ($1M cap hit) and Brightwells ($0.7M) in your own backyard proving that? Isn’t Andy Reid, the coach of one of the top 3 contenders this year, proving that?

UltimateNYG, Do NOT Re-sign Barkley, October 23 2022

Was it enough that we highlighted an unknown rookie Round 7 draft pick who would go on to be another in a long list of starting Running Back nobodies to win a Super Bowl???!!!

In Barkley’s final stretch of 9 games, he rushed for 495 yards. That is a less than eye-popping 55 yards per game. What happened? He got hurt. That is what RBs do. And at the tail end of the season the Offense graduated and began flowing through Jones instead of through Barkley. That is what is supposed to happen when your QB ascends.

September 2022 Preview: Super bullish on Barkley in 2022
October 2022: At peak Barkley, don’t pay this guy in the Offseason
December 2022: Get used to it, and pay Jones eye-popping numbers
January 2023: Barkley finishes the second half of 2022 with 55 yards per game
February 2023: Pacheco and the Chiefs get a ring
February 2023: The Giants and Jones are kicking around eye-popping numbers

How many of you watched the playoff game between Dallas and SF? Ezekiel Elliott gets the monster $15M per, but dirt cheap Pollard is the star that stirs that drink. Pollard goes down and the Cowboys lose. Do we need to keep getting pounded, pelted, and assaulted by reason after reason why you have to let Barkley walk? Any player or fan who sobs about what a leader Barkley is, how the Giants can’t let him go, is thinking with their heart and not their head. The Giants will need this money for Dexter Lawrence, Andrew Thomas, Daniel Jones and as much cap space as they can squeeze for their Super Bowl run. That is how the Chiefs did it. This has been the blueprint for nearly every Super Bowl winner for the past 17 years.

Pay Jones. Don’t pay Barkley. It’s a Quarterback league. It is definitely not a Running Back league. Sorry, not sorry.