The New York Giants a) don't usually partake too aggressively in the annual free-agent frenzy and b) don't have any money to spend this year on potential free agents. But even the tamest and most frugal NFL teams wind up bringing in a few free agents every spring, so with that in mind I've identified four particular players that Jerry Reese and Tom Coughlin should have in mind as March 12 approaches.
1. Kelvin Hayden (CB, Chicago Bears)
If the Giants decide to part ways with Corey Webster and invest in a high draft pick to join Prince Amukamara and Jayron Hosley at cornerback, they'll need one more veteran with the ability to step into a starting role and avoid embarrassing himself. Hayden might be that guy, mainly because he flew under the radar behind Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings in Chicago last year and thus might actually be affordable.
Hayden has 12 picks in 49 career starts and is coming off a decent season as a reserve in Chicago, holding opposing quarterbacks to a completion percentage of 59.3 (per Pro Football Focus). He'd ideally be used as a veteran backup, but he is definitely good enough in slot coverage to be the team's regular nickel corner.
Other possibilities here include Jacob Lacey and Captain Munnerlyn. Beggars can't be choosers.
2. Darryl Tapp (DE, Philadelphia Eagles)
Ideally, the Giants will draft a pass-rusher to complement Jason Pierre-Paul for years to come. The real question, though, is whether they keep Justin Tuck and/or Osi Umenyiora. If both leave town, they'll need some support in the pass rush. If at least one of those veterans departs, they'd still be smart to find a cheap defensive end who can at least provide some depth.
Tapp is the perfect man for that role. He has starting experience from his time in Seattle, and he knows the teams in the division well from his time in Philadelphia. He could at the very least be a nice locker-room presence, and he'll come cheap because he was lost in a large crowd with the Eagles.
The 29-year-old is sneaky productive, though, and would definitely be a useful addition to New York's defense.
3. Sammie Hill (DT, Detroit Lions)
With Chris Canty gone and only question marks Shaun Rogers and Marvin Austin around to replace him at this point, Hill might be a nice addition to the fray at defensive tackle. Many expected him to have a breakout season in Detroit last year, but that didn't happen.
The Giants don't have the money to spend on blue-chip guys (otherwise they'd still have Canty), but Hill might be affordable after starting only three games for the Lions in 2012. He's an underrated pass-rusher, which is what the G-Men need. And who knows, maybe that breakout season will come a year later than expected.
At the end of the day, I'd much rather have Hill than Rogers or Rocky Bernard.
4. Nick Roach (LB, Bears)
Chase Blackburn shouldn't be starting at middle linebacker, but there's nobody around to push him except Mark Herzlich. Roach, who is a versatile veteran, can do exactly that while also competing for the starting outside linebacker spot that Michael Boley has left vacant.
At the very least, the 27-year-old would be an upgrade over Keith Rivers. That being said, it would be best if the Giants kept Rivers, too.