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New York Giants 2016 Free Agency Breakdown: Offense

After four straight years of missing the playoffs, the Giants’ brass decided to make a big change in hopes of turning things around, firing longtime head coach Tom Coughlin and replacing him with former offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo. Over the coming weeks and months, Big Blue will have an opportunity to make even more changes, this time to the personnel.

On Sunday, free agents can begin discussion and negotiation with all 32 NFL teams, and next Wednesday, free agents can officially sign new contracts.

Several of those players looking for new contracts will be members of the 2015 Giants, as a whopping 28 players are set to become free agents in just a few days. With the Giants expected to have nearly $60 million in cap space, it will be interesting to see if they choose to focus on bringing back their own free agents, build a new team with other free agents, or land somewhere in between.

For now, let’s take a look at the offensive players who are looking for new contracts.

WR Rueben Randle

Randle is easily the biggest name among the Giants’ offensive free agents. Unfortunately, his big name didn’t come with big production in 2015.

Since being drafted in the second round of LSU in 2012, there have always been high hopes for Randle on the Giants, with many thinking he and Victor Cruz could form a formidable 1-2 punch for the next several years.

But time and time again, Randle failed to take advantage of seemingly endless opportunities. After Cruz went down with a knee injury during the 2014 season, he had a chance to become a target machine for the Giants, but was instead overshadowed by rookie sensation Odell Beckham Jr. And while OBJ was the no-doubt No. 1 receiver entering the 2015 season, Randle had another opportunity to step up for the Giants when Cruz was unable to return to the field.

While Randle did score a career-high eight touchdowns last season, they came with just 797 yards on 57 catches – hardly the figure he was looking for in a contract year. He was also prone to drops, mental mistakes and perceived laziness. Reports surfaced that many in the organization had soured on him.

With Beckham firmly entrenched as the Giants’ go-to receiver, Randle is unlikely to be a priority for the Giants this offseason. With the uncertainty surrounding Cruz’s health, a reunion with Randle can’t be written off completely, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see another team overpay Randle in a weak receiver market.

TE Larry Donnell (RFA)

Donnell is a restricted free agent, meaning as long as the Giants opt to tender him a modest one-year contract, they will have the ability to match any deal Donnell agrees to with another team. Of course, it’s not a given the Giants will tender Donnell thanks to the neck injury he suffered last season.

As of February 25, Donnell was still not cleared for action, nearly three months after the injury occurred. Since neck injuries can be tricky and can lead to serious consequences if they are aggravated, it’s unclear when, or if, Donnell will be able to resume football activities.

There is optimism Donnell will eventually be cleared, but it’s not a guarantee. That, along with Donnell’s inconsistent play last year before his injury last year, and the emergence of Will Tye, suggests the Giants may decide against tendering Donnell. Instead, they could let him become an unrestricted free agent, and monitor his recovery before deciding whether or not they want to re-sign him.

TE Will Tye (ERFA)

Like Donnell, Tye is also not an unrestricted free agent. Tye is ticketed for exclusive rights free agency, meaning as long as he tendered a one-year contract, he is unable to negotiate with other teams, and must accept the tender if he wants to play in 2016.

Tye, an undrafted free agent out of Stony Brook, turned heads after taking over as the starter following Donnell’s neck injury. He became a reliable safety net for Eli Manning in the passing game, averaging 11.0 yards per catch on his way to 464 yards in 13 games (seven starts). He also scored three touchdowns.

Truthfully, Tye is a solid player who helped the Giants in a pinch last year, but they should be aiming higher for a starting tight end in 2015. Either way, there’s little doubt he’ll be back with Big Blue next season.

WR Hakeem Nicks

At this stage of his career, Nicks is a name and a veteran mentor, and not much else. The former first-round pick found crickets on the open market last offseason before landing with the Titans for training camp. Despite Tennessee’s lack of playmaking receivers, Nicks was still cut at the end of the preseason, and went unsigned until he reunited with the Giants in November.

Nicks was little more than a deep reserve upon his return to Big Blue, recording just seven catches for 54 yards and no touchdowns in six games.

Nicks will hit the open market in a few days, and will likely remain there until the summer, if he is signed at all.

RB Orleans Darkwa (ERFA)

Like Tye, Darkwa is a free agent in name only, and is essentially under team control as long as the Giants wish to retain him.

Darkwa served as the Giants’ No. 4 running back, and didn’t see his first carry until Week 7 against Dallas when he cracked the rotation and rushed for an impressive 48 yards and a touchdown on eight carries. Unfortunately, Darkwa peaked early and while he received a surprising number of carries for the remainder of the season, he didn’t do much with them, totaling just 105 yards on 28 carries (3.75 YPC) after Week 7.

The Giants’ top three running backs are all under contract for next season, but after Andre Williams’ dreadful 2015 season, Darkwa will likely be retained, at the very least for depth purposes.

TE Daniel Fells

Fells opened the season as the Giants’ backup tight end, but football became the furthest thing from anyone’s mind when it was discovered he contracted MRSA, ending his season. The infection put Fells in danger of losing his foot, but thankfully, he made a great recovery and is now MRSA-free. He had to undergo seven surgeries on the infected foot, which likely ended his playing career, but the most important thing is the father of two is healthy.

TE Jerome Cunningham (ERFA)

Cunningham began the season on the practice squad, but was eventually promoted to the active roster following season-ending ailments to Donnell and Fells. Tye, of course, dominated snaps at tight end, but Cunningham still managed to appear on the stat sheet, tallying eight catches for 59 yards in nine games. With the Giants boasting so little depth at the position, Cunningham, an exclusive rights free agent, should be tendered.

WR Myles White (ERFA)

White spent most of the season as a special teamer, but made the most of his few snaps with the offense, catching seven passes for 88 yards and a touchdown over 12 games. White’s biggest moment of the season came when he secured a fumbled kick return against the Cowboys that helped seal the win at home in Week 7. With the tender only costing a few hundred thousand dollars, White should be back to compete for a roster spot this summer.

OL Dallas Reynolds

Reynolds has been a flexible offensive linemen for the Giants over the last few years, but mostly filled in at center and guard this year. He failed to make much of an impact last season despite appearing in 16 games and starting two. After releasing Will Beatty and Geoff Schwartz, the Giants could try to hang onto Reynolds as a reliable backup again, but he’s probably not high on the priority list.

OL Brandon Mosley

Mosley has been a disappointment for the Giants since he was drafted out of Auburn in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Out of a possible 64 games, Mosley has appeared in just 22 and started one. None of those came last season, who spent the season on IR with a back injury. He won’t be back.

OL Adam Gettis (R)

Gettis spent most of the past two seasons on the Giants’ practice squad, but was called up to the active roster in 2015, appearing in just one game. The Giants could use some depth along the offensive line, but likely have their sights set higher than Gettis. A restricted free agent, Gettis is unlikely to fetch a tender, and should hit unrestricted free agency.

Check back soon for a look at the Giants’ defensive and special teams players set to become free agents.

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