by Yankee27 for BlueInteractive.com
Though the past three years have certainly been important in terms of improving the overall talent on the Giants, the changes in personnel this offseason will be the most significant, as the success (or lack of success) of the 2007 Giants will have a far ranging effect on how your Giants team is run in 2008 and beyond.
Improvement needs to start with the defense, particularly at linebacker. After watching Antonio Pierce the past few seasons as a Giant, I believe that he is a very good linebacker, but is better suited to play on the weak side. Knowledge of the game and open field tackling have never been issues for Pierce, but size has been a problem, and the times that he has been completely engulfed by a blocker increased during the past season. Some on BBI have raised some questions regarding his overall speed, but I don’t see it as an issue if he is moved outside. Some options for a new middle linebacker include:
Kawika Mitchell of the Kansas City Chiefs has now had back-to-back 100+ tackle seasons for the Chiefs and at 260 pounds, would be a great addition to the middle of the Giants defense. Mitchell is an extremely hard worker, and coaches at South Florida and Kansas City have praised his efforts and attitude. Giants cornerback coach Pete Guinta worked with Mitchell for three seasons season in KC, and more interestingly, Mitchell recently switched his agent, choosing Tom Condon over former agent Peter Schaffer. Condon is also the agent for Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin.
Napolean Harris of the Vikings is another possibility. A former first rounder, who was part of the infamous Randy Moss deal to the Raiders, could Harris be reunited with Mike Waufle in New York? Harris came to the Vikings on the strong recommendation of Fred Pagac, the Vikings new linebacker coach, who had previously worked with Waufle in Oakland. The Vikings just threw a ton of money on an extension to LB E.J. Henderson, and LB Chad Greenway, their top pick in 06, is fully healed from the season ending ACL injury, and likely to be given the MLB position in Minny. At 6-2 and 255 pounds, Harris has solid NFL experience at both middle linebacker and strongside linebacker. (Note: Some websites list Harris as an unrestricted free agent, and some don’t).
Vinny Ciurciu of the Panthers is a linebacker more known for his speed, rather than his size. His Boston College and New Jersey roots make him an option for the Giants. He has had some solid preseason and regular games against the Giants, and represents a better backup linebacker/special teams player that current Giant Reggie Torbor.
The Giants received solid production from tackles Fred Robbins and Barry Cofield, but William Joseph and Jonas Seawright may reach the end of their Giants careers by September. I really hope the Giants make a run at signing Raiders defensive tackle Terdell Sands. Sands is a huge player that I watched often, including his time with the Packers, and I was often frustrated by his lack of production. That changed in 2006, as Sands was a strong contributor to the Raiders defense with outstanding production, including 41 tackles, 11 assists, and 1 sack. The light bulb has gone on for this 6’7” 340 pound monster. He is only 27, and represents a significant need for the Giants – a defensive who can occupy blockers and let our linebackers make tackles.
I was disappointed that unrestricted free agents Keith Lewis of the 49er’s and Coy Wire of the Bills have come off the market in the past three days, each signing new contracts with their original teams. Each represented a solid young safety that had shown significant improvement in 2006. I’m really not that interested in the other safeties now available, including Ken Hamlin. Hamlin is too much of a gambler, and I’d rather have a more savvy safety with the aggressive Giants defense we can expect in ‘07.
At cornerback, I could see the Giants adding a player like Roderick Hood. It’s pretty common for a new defensive coordinator to bring a player or two from his old team, and I think Hood will be that Eagles player making the move to New York. Hood also represents a solid option as a kickoff returner.
Two players stand out to me as unrestricted free agents who could be in Giants blue by March. Wide Receiver Kevin Curtis, just like Kawika Mitchell above, has recently switched agents, selecting Tom Condon (the agent for Tom Coughlin). I wish Curtis was a little bigger, but his speed cannot be questioned. I still think Tim Carter is a better option than Curtis, but Curtis has made it pretty clear he is looking for a new team and a bigger long-term contract.
I think halfback Dominic Rhodes of the Indianapolis Colts would look great in Blue. I think that halfback is a position in which the Giants are very attractive to any unrestricted free agent with the retirement of Tiki Barber. The more successful teams this past season utilized more of a two tailback tandem, and I think that teaming up Rhodes with Brandon Jacobs would be a great addition t the Giants offense. Musa Smith is another low to the ground pounder like Rhodes. Smith has been a real disappointment for the Ravens, as a 3rd round pick that has constantly been hurt, and has minimal NFL yardage over his pro career. Rhodes would be my first choice, but Smith will be a reasonably priced option if he can overcome the injury bug.
I have not mentioned any of the big names in 2007 Free Agency. I don’t think the current coaching situation with the Giants will lead to a strong interest of the major players, who will have many other options available to them. I think that a March that would result in four new Giants (Mitchell, Sands, Hood, and Rhodes), represents a reasonable expectation of what could happen.
I also hope that the Giants re-sign tight end Visanthe Shiancoe. His blocking has always been solid, and I can recall many plays at Giants Stadium where a wide-open Shiancoe was overlooked by Eli. If the Giants are going to be successful, Eli needs to improve in finding secondary receivers. Shiancoe has been out there and open on plays. It’s up to Eli to find him.
At the end of February, I expect that the Giants will have re-signed center Shaun O’Hara and kicker Jay Feely.