With fullback Henry Hynoski still recovering from knee surgery, and with concerns that he won't be ready for the start of the regular season, the Giants are pondering a last-ditch effort to sign free agent fullback Vonta Leach, the Daily News has learned.
The 31-year-old Leach was released by the Baltimore Ravens two weeks ago and appeared set to sign with the Miami Dolphins. But according to two NFL sources, the Giants have remained in contact with his agent and are considering upping their offer to him. They had hoped to lure Leach with the standard one-year, minimum-salary deal they've given to most of their free agents this offseason.
However, according to a source, they may offer more because they are worried about Hynoski, who suffered an injury to his left knee at the Giants' first spring practice on May 22 and underwent surgery two days later. Hynoski is already expected to miss most of training camp, which he'll likely begin on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.
Hynoski, in a statement released back in May, said he was told being ready for the Giants' Sept. 8 opener "is not an unrealistic goal" despite an unspecified injury to his left MCL and a chip fracture to the later plateau in his knee. However, a source said the Giants are not certain at all that he'll be recovered in time.
Asked for an update on Hynsoki after the Giants' first mini-camp practice on June 11, Tom Coughlin said "He's doing well." Asked if he thought it was realistic to expect Hynoski to be ready for the opener, Coughlin said "I hope so."
With no other fullbacks on the roster, tight end Bear Pascoe filled in at that position during mini-camp, but the Giants would prefer to have a full-time fullback fill that position. The 6-foot-, 260-pound Leach – whom the Giants pursued back in 2007 when they signed him to a restricted free agent offer sheet that the Houston Texans eventually matched -- would be a huge upgrade if the Giants can figure out how to fit him under the salary cap.
That won't be easy, though, because he was cut by the Ravens after they couldn't reach an agreement on a restructured contract, and a source said he has no intentions of signing anywhere for one year and a minimum salary.
That puts the Giants in a bind because they have only $3.3 million of room under the salary cap according to NFLPA records and the Dolphins, the only team Leach has visited, has $17.6 million of room. The Houston Texans are also interested in Leach, according to a source, but they have even less cap room than the Giants ($2.8 million).
To lure Leach, the Giants would have to get creative to keep the first-year cap number low, and would likely need to offer a multi-year deal. Leach visited the Dolphins on June 12 and they still remain the favorites to sign him. A source said eight teams expressed some interest in signing Leach, but he has no immediate plans to make any more free-agent visits.