A big reason why the New York Giants have been unable to create a dynasty like the New England Patriots is their inability to supplement some of the roster's glaring holes until the right draft pick came along.
Sometimes the right draft pick isn't sitting there waiting to be chosen, which is where a solid free agency plan comes into play. So let's take a look back at the free-agent opportunities missed by the Giants throughout the years to fill in the transition period between cornerstones at select positions.
After Ahmad Bradshaw but before Saquon Barkley
LeGarrette Blount: He wasn’t the first player you would select in a fantasy draft, but Blount was a solid running back over his nine NFL seasons. His standout year was 2016, in which he scored a whopping 18 touchdowns for a New England team that went on to win the Super Bowl.
That same season, the Giants offense scored six rushing touchdowns. They could have made a deeper playoff run with a starting running back like Blount.
Latavius Murray: Another example of a running back who got the job done quietly. Originally an Oakland Raider, Murray ran for 1,000 yards in 2015. The next season, he scored 12 touchdowns.
He signed with Minnesota in 2017 after Marshawn Lynch joined the Raiders and continued his workmanlike effort for a Vikings team that went to the NFC Championship game. As was the case the year before, the Giants collectively tallied six rushing touchdowns in 2017.
After Kevin Boss and Before Evan Engram
Delanie Walker: After spending seven seasons under the radar in San Francisco, Walker signed with Tennessee in 2013. He immediately made his presence felt, catching 23 touchdowns over the next four seasons.
His 1,088 receiving yards in 2015 were even more impressive, considering that the Titans only won three games that year. He would have fit in quite well in a Giants offense that scored the sixth-most points in the NFL in 2015, even while starting Will Tye and Larry Donnell at tight end.
Jared Cook: Walker’s arrival in Tennessee coincided with Cook’s departure. He spent the next three seasons with the St. Louis Rams in relative anonymity. He’s never been flashy but has remained consistent over his 12 NFL seasons.
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(after the 2007-10 quintet of David Diehl, Rich Seubert, Shaun O'Hara, Chris Snee, and Kareem McKenzie broke up)
Andrew Whitworth: Whitworth signed with the Los Angeles Rams in 2017 after spending 11 seasons in Cincinnati. In his very first season in L.A., he was a first-team All-Pro.
The next year, the Rams went to the Super Bowl. Whitworth, who at one point revealed the Giants never reached out to him, was the leader the Giants have desperately needed on the offensive line in recent years, but they instead stayed loyal to Ereck Flowers.
Mitchell Schwartz: Another veteran presence the Giants could have used on an inexperienced offensive line. Schwartz left Cleveland for the greener pastures of Kansas City in 2016 and quickly matured into one of the NFL’s best offensive linemen.
He was a first-team All-Pro in 2018 and won the Super Bowl with the Chiefs the next year. This was also a classic case of passing on the wrong brother, as Mitchell’s older sibling, Geoff, spent two unsuccessful and injury-filled seasons in New York.
Demario Davis: The worst part of not signing Davis was that he was right in the Giants’ backyard. He spent five of his first six seasons with the Jets. He’s played the last three seasons in New Orleans, developing into one of football's best linebackers.
The Giants could have used that kind of veteran talent in their linebacking corps. Could you imagine Davis and Blake Martinez lining up next to each other these days?
Karlos Dansby: If you’re looking for proof that Pro Bowl selections are meaningless, look no further than Karlos Dansby. In 14 seasons, Dansby recorded 100 tackles six times.
Twice, he got to 100 by himself. Even with those numbers, he has not a single Pro Bowl appearance to his name. He would have starred on the Giants, especially in his career year of 2013, when he notched 114 solo tackles.
The Giants’ lack of splashy free agents in recent years has, of course, been due to their lack of competitiveness. Now, with a primarily rebuilt defense, there are no excuses.
Plenty of big names are out there to shore up the defense, namely Matt Judon, Melvin Ingram, Bud Dupree, and Jurrell Casey.
They could also add talent on offense with names like Allen Robinson and T.Y. Hilton. After some frustrating off-seasons, New York is once again a viable option for free agents.