COMMENTARY | Pinched by the salary cap, the New York Giants have been forced into making a few roster changes this offseason. They've said goodbye to a number of popular and experienced players, including Osi Umenyiora, Ahmad Bradshaw and Chase Blackburn, and brought in some new (and old) players. But have these recent transactions improved the team? Here's a ranking of Big Blue's free agent acquisitions to date, from most to least significant, and a look at what they bring to the team.
DT Cullen Jenkins -- The Giants beefed up the defensive line with the addition of Jenkins, who started 16 games for the Philadelphia Eagles in three of the last four seasons. He's an upgrade over Chris Canty (released in February) and should make a big difference for the G-Men. New York's defense was trampled in the second half of last season and finished ranked No. 25 against the run.
TE Brandon Myers -- When Martellus Bennett inked a new deal with the Chicago Bears, the Giants promptly signed Myers, who started every game for the Oakland Raiders last season. The pass-catching tight end had career-high totals of 79 receptions for 806 yards and four touchdowns. Recently, Myers was named to NFL.com's All-Underrated team. Giants fans are not going to miss Bennett.
WR Louis Murphy -- Murphy will be a great replacement on offense for Domenik Hixon, who signed with the Carolina Panthers. In four pro seasons, he has 115 receptions for 1,707 yards and seven touchdowns, but just the threat of his game-breaking speed will stretch the field for the likes of Myers, Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. He signed a one-year deal, so the Giants have nothing to lose.
PK Josh Brown -- Lawrence Tynes made 84.6 percent of his field goal attempts in 2012, his highest conversion rate over a full season since 2007. But he's an unrestricted free agent, so the Giants signed Brown, who made 11 of 12 kicks for the Cincinnati Bengals this past season. Incidentally, over their careers, Tynes and Brown have made 81.5 and 81.3 percent of their FGAs, respectively.
LB Dan Connor -- Connor will replace leading-tackler Blackburn, who signed with the Panthers, and probably will compete with Mark Herzlich for snaps at middle linebacker next season. Connor has experience playing inside, outside and in the middle. Last season, he started eight games and made 55 tackles for the Dallas Cowboys. It's a low-risk, one-year deal, so what's not to like about it?
S Ryan Mundy -- Big Blue added depth in the secondary by signing Mundy, who previously played for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He has experience playing both strong safety and free safety, as well as special teams. Mundy will compete with Will Hill and Tyler Sash for a backup roll behind starters Antrel Rolle and Stevie Brown. Basically, he's a cheaper alternative to Kenny Phillips, who left for the Eagles.
CB Aaron Ross -- The Giants signed Ross to a low-risk, one-year contract to help the secondary, which finished ranked No. 28 against the pass in 2012. However, he's coming off a poor year with the Jacksonville Jaguars, who released him after the season. The experienced Ross started 41 games and won two Super Bowls in five seasons with the Giants, but he's nothing more than a depth player now.
DT Mike Patterson -- After undergoing brain surgery in January, Patterson played a career-low five games in 2012. However, the former first-round pick started 15 games the previous season and has played in 115 career games. He's going to have to fight for snaps next season. Starters Jenkins and Linval Joseph will be backed up by Shaun Rogers, Marvin Austin and Markus Kuhn.
What do you think of the Giants' free agent additions? Has the team improved or regressed since the end of last season? Let me know in the comments section below.Adam Martini is a freelance sports writer with more than 15 years of experience covering amateur and professional sports for several print and online media outlets. He tracked the New York Giants for Yahoo! Contributor Network during the team's Super Bowl run in 2011-12. Adam can be found on Twitter @Pegcitysports.
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