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NFC East Free Agency Roundup: New York


After taking stock of how the Cowboys roster has changed since the 2014 season ended, we move on to the New York Giants, who return the Eli Manning-Tom Coughlin combination for the 12th consecutive season …

2014 Record: 6-10 (3rd)
2015 Non-Division Opponents: Atlanta, Carolina, New England, New York Jets, San Francisco, at New Orleans, at Tampa Bay, at Buffalo, at Miami, at Minnesota

Goodbye: Like the Cowboys, the Giants also saw one of their own sign with the Eagles in the first week of free agency. But while the Eagles have high hopes for cornerback Walter Thurmond, it's only fair to say that he had less of an impact on the Giants than DeMarco Murray had on Dallas in 2014. Thurmond was signed by the Giants as a free agent last offseason with the expectation that he would take over their nickel position, but he went on injured reserve with a torn pectoral after two weeks.

Elsewhere in the secondary, the Giants also said farewell to perhaps their best free agent signing in recent history, safetyAntrel Rolle, who joined the Giants in 2010 and started all 16 games in each of the next five seasons, earning two Pro Bowls in the process. The 32-year-old Rolle signed with the Chicago Bears.

An accurate description of the 2014 Giants roster could probably be surmised by the fact that 11 players who were on the team last season remain unsigned on the free agent market, including former starters Mathias Kiwanuka, Jacquian Williams and J.D. Walton. SafetyStevie Brown remains unsigned, though there have been reports that he may eventually return to the Giants. Otherwise, they'll be tasked with replacing two starting safeties.

Welcome: First, on the welcome back front, the Giants have brought back five players thus far – cornerbackChykie Brown, tight endDaniel Fells, fullback Henry Hynoski, guard John Jerry and linebacker Mark Herzlich.

Meanwhile, the Giants have brought in four players from the outside. The headliner is probably former Patriots running back Shane Vereen, who is considered one of the league's best third-down backs and who will complement Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams in the Giants' backfield. Former Cowboys return specialist and wide receiver Dwayne Harris jumped ship to the Giants, where he'll compete to be the third receiver behind Odell Beckham, Jr., and Victor Cruz.

Defensive lineman Kenrick Ellis is an under-the-radar signing who may make a big impact as he stays in East Rutherford but swaps green for blue. With the Jets, Ellis was stuck behind an impressive starting group of defensive linemen, but his role will grow with a Giants defense that could use the help up front. The Giants made a similar upside-play signing in former Jaguars linebacker J.T. Thomas, who stepped in as the Jaguars' middle linebacker when Paul Posluszny was injured last season. Thomas is a solid special teamer, but the Giants will hope he emerge as more.

Finally, the Giants' most impactful move of the offseason thus far was the placement of the franchise tag on former first-round pickJason Pierre-Paul. Still just 26, Pierre-Paul had a bounceback season in 2014, notching 12.5 sacks, his first time in double digits since his second year in 2011.

Draft Focus:To date, the Giants own eight picks in this year's NFL Draft, with their own pick in all seven rounds and an extra seventh-rounder. In the first round, the Giants own the ninth overall selection, which should allow them to focus on the proverbial "best player available," considering their relative lack of young, impact players. Of course, the Giants hit a home run with last year's first-round pick when they took Beckham at No. 12. The most obvious areas of long-term need for New York are offensive line, defensive line and safety.

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