Chris Snee Not Ready to Retire: In an interview with The New York Post on Wednesday, right guard Chris Snee says he is not ready to retire from the NFL. The 32-year old Snee has been hampered by injuries to both hips and and right elbow the last couple of years. He has one year left on his current contract and will count $11.3 million against the 2014 NFL salary cap unless he accepts a pay cut or re-structure.
Snee only started in the first three games of the 2014 season before being placed on season-ending Injured Reserve with a torn labrum in his right hip that required surgery last October. He also underwent elbow surgery last November. Snee had surgery to repair a torn labrum and to clean out bone chips in his left hip after the 2012 season.
“I don’t want my last memory to be a dismal performance in Carolina (in week 3),’’ said Snee. “There’s a changing of the guard, I want to help this team right the ship.
“If I didn’t feel good I would have no decision to make. I’ve always put the team first and I’ve talked to all the doctors who have operated on me and I’ve done all the research. Talked to a bunch of former teammates, asked them what factors they thought in their decision-making process and obviously most importantly sitting down with my wife. I think it came down to the fact I feel really good. Am I the guy who was controlling the line of scrimmage four years ago? No, but do I think I can play at a high level and compete with most of the guards in the league? Absolutely.
“I think I would regret not giving it my all, that’s what I’ve always done for this organization, give it everything I have. That’s what I’ll do, I’ll try to do that for one more year.
“If you would have forced me to make a decision in November or December I would say yeah. My frustration level at that point was at an all-time high, just because this is sort of uncharted territory. I was always able to play through things but when you get up there in years and realize you have to feel good to play well and you can’t hide the injuries anymore.
“The hip last year was in much worse condition,” said Snee. “This rehab was a lot easier and everything came back quicker. Been working out hard for a month now…and haven’t woken up and been sore, which is a good thing…I’m rehabbing (the elbow) now, trying to get the strength back in my arm because they had do some stuff with the nerve, move it back into place.”
The New York Post reports that Snee, who was unable to lift weights while he rehabbed, lost nearly 40 pounds. He is now back up around 295 pounds.
“I’ve had discussions with (General Manger) Jerry (Reese) and there’s interest on both sides (about me returning),’’ Snee said. “If there was no interest from their point of view I’d probably say thanks for everything and call it a career. At this point it’s not about money for me. I’m a Giant, I couldn’t imagine myself playing for any other organization.’’
Regarding his high salary cap figure, Snee said, “I’m not worried about if the deal will get done but when. I’ve had no issues before restructuring, I just want to win so I’ll do whatever it takes.’’
Snee’s agent told The Post, “I can’t speak for them, but I would imagine that the Giants would want to make some adjustments if everything goes as planned with Chris’ recovery. Chris and all of us are on board and we will do what makes the most sense for both sides to protect the various outcomes. It really is not something that is difficult to work out, and I am sure that if that comes up, we will be able to get it done quickly.’’
“I realized I think I would regret not trying it again, not trying to go out on a high note,’’ said Snee. “That would be something that would eat at me and something I don’t want to regret five years down the road.’’
Snee told The Post he believes he can make it back.
“That’s exactly my mindset right now,’’ Snee said. “If it’s different come mini-camp in June and I’m struggling to get up off a stool I’ll be the first to let the Giants know. I love this team, I love everything about being a Giant and I want to help the team as much as I can. For me to come back lets you believe I think I can help.’’
NJ.com – New York Giants to Target Guards in 2014 Free Agency: According to NJ.com, the New York Giants will target offensive guards in free agency. Free agency begins officially on March 11. NJ.com speculates that the Giants may be interested in Jon Asamoah (Kansas City Chiefs), Geoff Schwartz (Kansas City Chiefs), Chad Rinehart (San Diego Chargers), Zane Beadles (Denver Broncos), and Shawn Lauvao (Cleveland Browns).
According to an unidentified source, NJ.com also reports there is a good chance that guard Kevin Booth, a soon-to-be unrestricted free agent, will re-sign. What is not clear is how much the Giants are relying on left tackle Will Beatty, right guard Chris Snee, and center David Baas. All three players have significant injury and high salary-cap concerns. Beatty ($7.4 million 2014 cap number) broke his leg in the season finale, Snee ($11.3 million) has had serious problems with both hips and his elbow, and Baas ($8.225 million) had knee and neck issues.
Corey Webster Still Wants to Play: Cornerback According to The Star-Ledger, cornerback Corey Webster has no intention of retiring and wants to continue to play football. The Giants voided the last year of Webster’s contract earlier this month, a move that will make Webster an unrestricted free agent.
New York Giants Cornerbacks Coach Peter Giunta at the NFL Combine: A video of New York Giants Cornerbacks Coach Peter Giunta working with the defensive backs at the 2014 NFL Combine is available at Giants.com.
Articles on the New York Giants and the 2014 NFL Draft:
- NFL Combine: Updated list of players to meet with Giants by Jordan Raanan and Conor Orr of NJ.com
- Giants could use first draft pick on big receiver by Tom Rock of Newsday
- Taylor Lewan not going to be available for the Giants at No. 12? by Jordan Raanan of NJ.com
Article on the New York Giants and 2014 NFL Free Agency: Giants free-agent possibilities if Tuck leaves by Dan Graziano of ESPN.com
Article on Head Coach Tom Coughlin: Tom Coughlin’s contract extension with Giants: What it really means by Jordan Raanan of NJ.com
Article on Quarterback Eli Manning: Eli Manning contract thoughts by Dan Graziano of ESPN.com
Article on the New York Giants Safeties: Big Blue Morning: The plan at safety by Dan Graziano of ESPN.com
Article on Current Giants and the NFL Combine: Giants fastest times in the 40-Yard Dash by Dan Salomone of Giants.com
Article on Former New York Giants Offensive Lineman Roy Simmons: Roy Simmons, who came out as gay after NFL career, dead at 57 by George Willis of The New York Post
General Manager Jerry Reese NFL Combine Media Sessions: Video clips of General Manager Jerry Reese’s media sessions at the NFL Combine on Saturday are available at Giants.com:
Some tidbits of note:
- Reese on picking at #12 in the first round: “We’ll try and get the best player available on the board. We’ll keep our options open there. If someone wants to come up to 12 and entertain us moving back, we’ll consider that as well.”
- Reese on the salary cap being raised from $123 million to reportedly $130-132 million: “Anything is better than flat. It makes a difference to me…It’s been pretty flat for the last few years. It’s hard to maintain a high-caliber roster with a flat salary cap, especially when you’re picking late and last some of the times you’re picking. It’s not a lot higher, but it’s better than nothing.”
- Reese on approaching the free agent market: “The last couple of years it’s been a pretty saturated market. If there are guys you like and you have the money, you can go get them. But if you can hold your water there will probably be some guys available in the second and third wave (of free agency)…If you have the funds available to extend (your own) guys and tie them up, we’ve done that a lot in the past. We think right now it’s best to see what the market is and make our move from there.”
- Reese on WR Hakeem Nicks, DE Justin Tuck, and LB Jon Beason, all who will be free agents on March 11: “I have talks with all of those guys and free agency means free agency. It means you go out and try to get as much money as you can. I’m always in favor of guys getting as much money as they can. Justin deserves to see what the market is. We’d love to have him back, but we’ll see where it goes. Beason as well. We’ve had some talks with him and hopefully we’ll be able to get him back as well. Who knows? If we can get something done maybe neither one of those guys will go, but we’ll leave our options open and I’m sure they’ll do the same.”
- Reese on RB David Wilson, who is recovering from offseason neck surgery: “Obviously, we can’t put all our eggs in that basket. We will continue to look for running backs in free agency and the draft as well.”
- Reese on fixing the offensive line: “You start in-house with your offensive line. We (have) drafted a few young players and hopefully they can grow into a role for us. Obviously, you look at free agency and we have a couple guys that ended on (Injured Reserve) for us last year. We’ll see what their status is moving forward and, of course, the draft there seems to be some good offensive linemen in this draft…Obviously we’ll go out in free agency and we’ll see where we can find some guys that can fill some holes for us…The No. 1 factor is who is going to be healthy. We’ve got to see Chris (Snee) and David Baas – those guys went down for us early in the season – if they are going to be healthy, if they’re going to come back and be contributors. Everything else will take care of itself after that…Both (Snee and Baas) want to play. I’ve talked to them and they want to play. They had significant injuries and right now they seem to be on a good track to recovery and we’ll see where it goes.”
- More from Reese on OG Chris Snee: “Is he going to be healthy? That’s the number one thing. Obviously he’s got a big contract. That’s an issue as well. All of that will get hashed out when we figure out if he’s going to be healthy or not…I talked to Chris Snee and he definitely wants to play. He has significant injuries and he’s not a baby at this point in his career. That always factors in, your age.”
- Reese on what he looks for in an offensive lineman: “You just want some big nasty guys up front who can keep our quarterback upright. We always look for versatile guys on the offensive line. The more you can do, the better you are for us. If a guy can play some guard, some tackle, some center, the more versatile, we like it.”
- Reese on changing offensive coordinators: “It was time to make a change…(new coordinator Ben McAdoo is) a bright guy, well-prepared. I think he’s going to bring some new life. Obviously Coach (Kevin) Gilbride did a terrific job for us, but the change is going to energize our offense a little bit and get some new learning for our quarterback and our offensive staff. He’s an interesting guy. He’s very bright…It was time to make a change. I think everybody is excited about what’s going on.”
Article on the New York Giants and the 2014 NFL Draft: Ebron draws interest from Jets, Giants by Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com
Tom Coughlin and Giants Agree to One-Year Contract Extension: Head Coach Tom Coughlin and the New York Giants have agreed to a 1-year contract extension reported to be around $7 million. Coughlin’s contract had been set to expire after the 2014 NFL season. Coughlin last agreed to a 3-year, $20 million contract extension after winning Super Bowl XLVI. He is now signed through the 2015 NFL season.
“I had great confidence that it would happen,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin on Friday. “And it did.”
Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s NFL Combine Media Sessions: Video clips of Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s media sessions at the NFL Combine on Friday are available at Giants.com:
Some tidbits of note:
- Coughlin on the impact and role of new Offensive Coordinator Ben McAdoo: “I’m involved very much in (the offense). As are all our coaches. It’s a very good exchange right now because we’re doing the best we can to meld a couple of systems, to discuss those types of things. Everyone has responsibilities and makes strong contributions. We’re certainly listening to the entire system and Ben will have the final say on that and of course play-calling, but I’ll be very much involved…(McAdoo) interesting enough does not describe himself as West Coast (Offense guy). He thinks more in terms of the ball going vertical and down the field…I would say that you will notice some differences for sure. Anytime you have different people, personalities, play callers, you’ll see some differences. I think definitely we would maintain a commitment to the run, and that will be a factor no matter what. And that’s been agreed upon by all. But as far as changes, they may be subtle; there may be some drastic ones. But the number one thing will be the players, the team, the opportunity to again get ourselves back on track the way we need to be, the ball security issues being first and foremost. The obvious questions being made about the offensive line, we’ll see where that goes. Who knows what that would have been like last year had a couple of our guys been able to stay on the field. “
- More on McAdoo: “I like Ben because he did a superb job in terms of his preparation. He’s very fundamentally sound. He started out with that aspect of it, not necessarily starting to talk about Xs and Os, but just about fundamentals. He had some very detailed video of the way in which he teaches. The way in which he presents, the way in which he teaches, he did an outstanding job with that. And great knowledge of the system he believes in and also knowledge of our team. The critical games that we had played against the Packers the last few years and the fact that we’ve had a little success there. That combination was a good one for both of us in terms of attracting him and being a franchise that he very much respected and wanted to be a part of if the opportunity came his way.”
- Coughlin on QB Eli Manning: “We’re very confident that Eli will, with the help of others around him, with the help of his coaches and the help of his teammates, will return to the high stature that we hold him in. I feel very good about that.”
- Coughlin on RB David Wilson, who recovering from career-threatening neck surgery: “Do I think he’ll be ready for training camp? I really don’t know the answer to that. A lot has to do with his attitude, the way he feels and the way the doctors and trainers obviously feel…I saw him about four or five days ago and he’s that same bouncy personality. He’s very pleased with where he’s at right now. He’s able to do work with his legs for example, not as a heavy-duty thing but in a lighter capacity. He’s excited about that. He looks good, he feels good. He doesn’t have a lot of pain. I’m excited about that…Forget about that he could be a difference-maker on the team, it’s the idea that is he going to be healthy enough to be able to withstand (hits). That will be the doctors’ and our main concern. We’re not going to put him out there unless he really, really believes in himself again and the doctors believe he’ll be ready to go. He’s not going to be put out there unless he’s ready for that. I’m not even sure how he’s going to be limited in the spring.”
- Coughin on OG Chris Snee, who is recovering from elbow and hip injuries. “I think there’s no question (he intends to play in 2014)…I think certainly there’s a natural, built-in timetable as far as progress goes along here. He’s in the rehab aspect of it. For anyone that has been injured, the rehab and all of those things come into play as you start to formulate where you are. Right now, I’m optimistic about it. He’s progressing well, he’s working, he’s building himself up. He’s feeling good and he’s looking forward to feeling better. So all I can tell you is that he’s made very good progress.”
No New Deal Currently in the Works for Eli Manning: According to The Star-Ledger, there have been no discussions between the New York Giants and quarterback Eli Manning to re-structure his current contract. Manning has two years left on his current contract. He will count $20.4 million against the estimated $130 million 2014 NFL salary cap – the fourth highest cap number in the NFL.
In order to re-structure a contract, the contract is usually extended with more guaranteed money. The Giants do not appear willing to do that at this time according to The Ledger.
Hakeem Nicks Changes Agents, Not Likely to Re-Sign with Giants: Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent on March 11, has changed agents. Like wide receiver Victor Cruz, Nicks will have his contract negotiations handled by the agency CAA while his marketing affairs will be handled by Jay-Z’s RocNation. Nicks was formerly represented by agent Peter Schaffer.
A number of current Giants have relationships with CAA, including Cruz, quarterback Eli Manning, and defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka.
According to NJ.com, an unidentified source says the chances of Nicks re-signing with the Giants are “close to zero.”
Head Coach Tom Coughlin did not sound overly optimistic on Friday when asked about Nicks.
“He’s a free agent,” Coughlin said. “Who knows? You’d basically like to have all of your free agents back. That doesn’t happen. You have guys that are injured, you have limitations on salary. I’m sure that the (free-agent) market will be where Hakeem will go and we’ll see what happens.”
Article on the New York Giants and the 2014 NFL Draft: NY Giants focused on helping Eli Manning through NFL draft this offseason by Ebenezer Samuel of The New York Daily News
Articles on the New York Giants and the NFL Combine:
- What ‘s the NFL Combine all about? Giants’ Justin Pugh breaks it down by Jordan Raanan of NJ.com
- NFL Combine 2014: Top TE Eric Ebron a Giants fan, loved Jeremy Shockey by Jordan Raanan of NJ.com
- Giants looking at offensive linemen at NFL Combine by Tom Rock of Newsday
More on David Wilson’s Status: Adam Schefter of ESPN is reporting that an unidentified source has said that running back David Wilson is ahead of schedule on his rehab from offseason neck surgery and he is expected to be ready for training camp. Wilson had a procedure to fuse neck vertebrae to repair a herniated disc on January 16.
However, The New York Daily News is reporting that Wilson’s early return is the optimistic view from Wilson’s side and that while the New York Giants remain “hopeful”, his availability for the 2014 NFL season remains unknown.
Article on Defensive End Justin Tuck: Justin Tuck’s agent: Giants star is best DE in strong free-agent class by Jordan Raanan of NJ.com
Articles on the New York Giants and the NFL Free Agency Franchise and Transition Tags:
- Which Giants are eligible for franchise tag? by Dan Salomone of Giants.com
- Franchise/transition tags: Giants by Dan Graziano of ESPN.com
Articles on the New York Giants and the NFL Combine:
- NFL Combine 2014: The Giants primer by Jordan Raanan of NJ.com
- Giants have eyes on blockers at NFL Combine by Bart Hubbuch of The New York Post
- NFL Combine: Players to watch for the Giants by Jordan Raanan of NJ.com
- Combine Watch: TE Eric Ebron by Dan Graziano of ESPN.com
- Combine watch: OT Taylor Lewan by Dan Graziano of ESPN.com
- Combine watch: LB C.J. Mosley by Dan Graziano of ESPN.com
- Combine watch: WR Mike Evans by Dan Graziano of ESPN.com
- Combine watch: CB Justin Gilbert by Dan Graziano of ESPN.com
Giants.com Inside the Film Room: Video breakdowns of the following Giants players are available at Giants.com:
In the history of the New York Giants, the 2005-2011 time period will be remembered as one of the franchise’s golden ages. In seven seasons, under the combined leadership and skill of Head Coach Tom Coughlin and quarterback Eli Manning, the Giants made the playoffs five times, won three NFC East titles, two NFC Championships, and two NFL Championships.
What was remarkable about the second title was that the Giants were able to win it despite losing foundation players after the 2007 Championship. By the time 2011 rolled around, gone were Michael Strahan, Antonio Pierce, Barry Cofield, Fred Robbins, Plaxico Burress, Amani Toomer, Kevin Boss, Shaun O’Hara, Rich Seubert, and others. Championship teams seldom lose core players like that and still manage to win another title. But the Giants reloaded with players such as Jason Pierre-Paul, Linval Joseph, Chris Canty, Michael Boley, Antrel Rolle, Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, Mario Manningham, Jake Ballard, and David Baas.
As we enter the heart of the 2014 offseason, more of those core components of the glorious 2007 and 2011 campaigns are gone, will soon be gone, or have faded. Can the Giants restock their roster once again in order to provide the 67-year old Coughlin and the 33-year old Manning one more realistic shot at a ring?
Regardless of unforeseen factors or excuses, Senior Vice President and General Manager Jerry Reese miscalculated in 2012 and 2013. Reese believed that major components of the 2011 team would not have to be replaced quite so soon. He gambled he could postpone the inevitable transition by simply tweaking the roster, not tearing it up. The result was a combined 16-16 regular-season record and two no-shows in the playoff tournament.
2013 was a disaster and the Giants were far worse than their 7-9 record would indicate. While the defense improved, the once high-flying passing game regressed to the point of embarrassment. The Giants could not run the football or protect Eli Manning. The big-play receivers stopped making big plays. And the two-time Super Bowl MVP found himself once again the target of critics who had been cowering for the last five years. If the Giants had not played a string of teams with terrible quarterback issues, they likely would have finished the season with a 4-12 record or worse.
So is it over? Has the window closed? It may have. Reese appears to be gambling again that it has not. Coughlin is at an age when most retire but he will return for at least one more campaign. The 2013 season was not Coughlin’s fault. He will go down in history as one of the Giants’ best coaches along with Steve Owen and Bill Parcells. But replacing him with a younger man for what looks to be at least a moderate rebuilding project had to be considered as a viable option in January. If the Giants fail to make the playoffs in 2014 and Coughlin is let go in January 2015, then it was a mistake to retain him. Reese is betting that not only can Coughlin get this team back into the playoffs in 2014, but that he will be here a few more years in order to shepherd the Giants into one more legitimate title run.
Reese also appears to believe that Eli’s career can be resurrected. His current salary-cap busting contract is set to expire after the 2015 season. The safe bet would be to not re-structure his contract at the current time until the team can clearly see if he can rebound to his 2011 level. However, to not do so at the present time will limit what the Giants can do in rebuilding the roster since Manning currently accounts for roughly 15 percent of the Giants’ salary cap. It is important to note that all three of the Giants’ offensive assistant coaching hires this offseason are former quarterbacks coaches. The early indications – right or wrong – are that Reese believes Manning will be able to revert back to his 2011 form. If Reese re-structures Manning’s contract in the coming months, then that becomes a certainty.
So let’s assume Reese has already made the decision that the Coughlin-Manning combination has one more run in them. A coach and quarterback can’t do it alone. Can Reese and his personnel department provide Coughlin and Manning with enough support to seriously challenge teams like the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers in the NFC? Right now, as of February 2014, the Giants are nowhere near their class. Equipped with only six draft picks and a moderate amount of salary cap room (which looks inflated right now due to all of unsigned players), it will take a superlative effort by the front office to close the gap.
Offense: The New York Giants finished the 2011 season 9th on offense (5th passing, 32nd rushing). The Giants fell to 14th (12th passing, 14th rushing) in 2012 and 28th (19th passing, 29th rushing) in 2013. Despite the public perception to the contrary, Eli Manning doesn’t need a strong running game to succeed. But he needs decent pass protection and quality play-makers to catch the ball.
Offensive Line: Another myth that surrounds Manning is that he has been the beneficiary of superlative pass protection during much of his career. That simply is not true. Both David Diehl and Kareem McKenzie had issues with outside rushers, particularly in 2011. But the Giants’ interior pass protection really deteriorated in 2013, combined with a very inconsistent and disappointing season by left tackle Will Beatty. It is astounding really that the Giants were able to win an NFL Championship in 2011 with a 32nd-ranked rushing attack, shoddy-at-times pass protection, and the 27th-ranked defense. But Eli Manning and the 5th-ranked passing game carried the Giants to the playoffs where the running game and defense finally showed enough improvement to help New York win its eighth NFL title.
In 2013, the deteriorating, inept offensive line finally made its impact felt. The running game continued to struggle, but now Manning became gun-shy as pressure hit him from all angles. The Giants couldn’t run the ball and they couldn’t pass it. The opposition controlled the line of scrimmage and the Giants were pushed around by more physical opponents. Perhaps the biggest knock of all against Jerry Reese is that he and his personnel department did not do enough to restock the line as Diehl-Seubert-O’Hara-Snee-McKenzie aged and faded.
Right now, the line is a mess. It’s arguably the worst offensive line in the NFL. The Giants have one player to build around: Justin Pugh. Pugh not only appears to have a bright future, but he is flexible enough to be plugged in anywhere on the offensive line. He will likely be the right or left tackle in 2014 depending on the injury status of Will Beatty, who suffered a serious leg fracture in the regular-season finale. The injury-prone and inconsistent Beatty, who was given a 5-year, $39 million contract last offseason, is coming off of a bad season. If he recovers quickly and if he can rebound to his 2012 level of play, that will help. But those are two big “ifs.” Then you have super injury-prone David Baas and the aging and breaking-down Chris Snee. The Giants counted on both to deliver in 2013 and neither could even make it past the first half of the season. It would be highly risky to count on Beatty, Baas, and Snee in 2014. Worse, Beatty ($7.4 million), Baas ($8.2 million), and Snee ($11.3 million) will take up almost $27 million in 2014 salary cap room unless they are cut or agree to take massive pay cuts. The problem with cutting them is dead money. Beatty is basically uncuttable with $15.5 million in dead money. Baas would cost $6.45 million in dead money if cut before June 1st; Snee $4.5 million. Kevin Boothe is a free agent and will turn 31 in July. As I said, it’s a mess.
And this mess is exacerbated by the fact that there is not a lot of young talent waiting in the wings to take over unless you have a lot of faith in James Brewer, Brandon Mosley, Stephen Goodin, Jim Cordle (free agent), and Eric Herman.
The Giants will obviously have to address the offensive line in the draft (with only six picks and many other needs) and free agency. Reese may feel he will be forced to gamble one more time on Beatty, Baas, and/or Snee. But if he does, and one, two, or three of these players end up on IR again or continue to struggle, then not only will the line once again be placed in a revolving door-type situation, but the offensive line rebuild that is necessary will be delayed yet another season.
I don’t think the offensive line can be fixed in one offseason. I think they can add one or two draft picks and add 2-3 free agents this offseason. But unless the Giants spend both their first and second round picks on linemen, it is only plausible that one rookie may start in 2014. On the free agent front, the Giants may be able to go after one premium offensive lineman, but the others will likely be older, short-term veterans merely signed to hold down the fort until more long-term reinforcements appear in 2015.
Tight Ends: Like the offensive line, the Giants have arguably the worst group of tight ends in the NFL. At times, it was like the Giants were playing with 10 men on offense. Brandon Myers is not a starting-caliber player. He is best suited as a role-playing H-Back. Since he is a free agent, there is a good chance the Giants won’t even bother re-signing him. Bear Pascoe is another role-playing type who is a free agent. He’s had a nice career here but the Giants need to do better. That leaves the physically-talented Adrien Robinson and Larry Donnell. But neither developed in 2013 and neither may have NFL futures. Journeyman Daniel Fells, who was signed in January, may actually be the best tight end on the roster right now. That’s scary. So is the fact that the Giants basically fired Mike Pope for Kevin Gilbride’s 34-year old son to coach the tight ends. Gilbride’s only experience coaching tight ends was at Georgetown University in 2006.
Ideally, the Giants would want to spend a first or second round pick on a tight end. But can they afford to do that with the mess on the offensive line? Tight end is likely to be an important position with the West Coast-oriented offense of new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo. Look for at least one veteran free agent to be added.
Wide Receivers: This position was supposed to be set for a while with Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, and Rueben Randle. But for whatever reason, Nicks hasn’t been the same player since Week 2 of the 2012 NFL season. Although he is only 26 and should be entering the prime of his career, Nicks is likely to depart by free agency, meaning the Giants will lose the services of another high-round draft pick before it should have been anticipated.
Eli Manning has proved that if you give him great targets, he can still carry this team with an average offensive line, tight ends, and running backs. But now Rueben Randle will be counted on to become the 2010-11 version of Nicks. If he doesn’t, then teams will continue to focus on shutting down Victor Cruz. It also remains to be seen if Jerrel Jernigan’s last three weeks of the 2013 season were a mirage. If Randle and Jernigan disappoint, the Giants will be in deep, deep trouble.
A strong case could be made that wide receiver is one of the most pressing needs on this team given the importance of the position to the Giants’ overall success. So I would not be shocked to see the Giants draft a wide receiver as high as the first round. But if they do so, the offensive line will continue to suffer. Pick your poison.
Running Backs: Another mess filled with question marks and arguably one of the worst groups in the league. (Notice the trend here those calling for the heads of coaches?) Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs got old and are gone. First-rounder David Wilson was supposed to become the new featured play-maker, but now his career is in jeopardy with a neck injury. The hope is he can return and become a Darren Sproles-like role-player. Andre Brown is an injury-prone free agent. Journeyman Peyton Hillis is also a free agent and it’s not even clear if the Giants want him back. Michael Cox flashed in the preseason but did not in the regular season. With not enough resources to deal with all of these positions, the “help wanted” sign is out here as well. The good news? The Giants have a very good fullback under contract (John Conner) and another one who may re-sign as a free agent (Henry Hynoski).
Offensive Summary: It’s a mess. Manning, Pugh, Cruz, Randle, and Jernigan must come through or it will be even worse. The Giants have more issues on the offensive line than they will likely be able to address in one offseason. The tight ends and running backs scare no one. Losing the 2010-11 version of Nicks removes a much-needed impact player.
Defense: Despite winning the Super Bowl in 2011, the New York Giants’ defense was embarrassingly bad in 2011 (27th) and 2012 (31st). Those defenses each gave up over 6,000 yards of offense – the first time that has ever happened in the Giants’ long and storied history. If it were not for the six-game run at the end of the 2011 season, Perry Fewell may have been fired. In 2013, the defense made a huge improvement, ranking 8th in the NFL (10th against the pass, 14th against the run). With the arrow pointed upwards, one may feel there are not many issues to be addressed on this side of the ball. But there are.
Defensive Line: Ever since the Giants switched back to the 4-3 in 1994, the defensive line has been the heart of the New York’s defense. But this once-formidable and deep unit is fraying at the edges. Long gone are Michael Strahan, Barry Cofield, and Fred Robbins. Osi Umenyiora and Chris Canty left the scene last offseason. Justin Tuck is coming off a strong season but he is inconsistent, aging, and has had health issues. 25-year old Linval Joseph, a former second rounder, is a free agent who the Giants may not be able to re-sign. Mathias Kiwanuka is steady, but he doesn’t make many plays and will count over $7 million against the 2014 salary cap.
In a nutshell, the transition on the defensive line basically started last offseason and will continue this offseason. The Giants will need to count on 33-year old Cullen Jenkins and 21-year old Johnathan Hankins inside, especially if they lose Joseph. Depth could become a problem. Markus Kuhn is still in the picture and the Giants will likely re-sign Mike Patterson or sign someone similar.
Bigger concerns exist outside at defensive end. The team desperately needs Jason Pierre-Paul to return to his 2011 form after two disappointing and injury-plagued seasons. Will Tuck re-sign? Should the Giants re-sign him or move on? Is Kiwanuka really worth the valuable cap space he is taking up? Damontre Moore flashed on special teams but not really on defense. The Giants need him to develop or the needs here become even greater. If the offense was not such a mess, a case could be made for drafting a defensive end in the first round.
Linebacker: Perry Fewell uses more 2-linebacker packages than 3-linebacker packages so there is not a premium placed on this position by the Giants. That said, the dramatic improvement in the Giants’ defense occurred last season once Jon Beason became the new starter at middle linebacker. Beason is a free agent but will likely be re-signed. The concern with him is his injury history. If the Giants lose him, the linebacking position becomes a real weakness again, especially inside. In a perfect world, the Giants draft an apprentice middle linebacker with the leadership, intelligence, and physical skills to play in Fewell’s defense.
Contrary to many people, I think the Giants can get by with Spencer Paysinger and Jacquian Williams. But adding more talent would help. Keith Rivers is a free agent but could be a cheap re-sign. I would move on from Mark Herzlich. Allen Bradford will get a shot.
Defensive Backs: Cornerback is a bigger issue than safety. The Giants will be undergoing a significant transition at corner. Free agents Corey Webster and Aaron Ross will likely not be invited back. Free agents Trumaine McBride and Terrell Thomas may or may not return. Right now, the only players under contract are Prince Amukamara, Jayron Hosley, Charles James, and four practice squad players. A strong case could be made for the Giants drafting a corner in round one or two to team with Amukamara. The Giants need Hosley – who missed much of 2013 with an injury – and James to develop. Imagine how bad this position would look if Amukamara was lost due to an injury?
The concerns at safety have more to do with issues off of the field. 31-year old Antrel Rolle had his best season in 2013. He shows no signs of slowing down yet. However, Rolle will be entering the last year of a contract that will count $9.25 million against the 2014 salary cap. That’s a lot of money for a team that is basically rebuilding. 23-year old Will Hill seems like the heir apparent, but his off-the-field issues are worrisome. If these two play in all 16 games in 2014, then the Giants will be in good shape. The Giants drafted talented Cooper Taylor last offseason. And they probably hope to re-sign either Stevie Brown or Ryan Mundy.
Defensive Summary: The success of this defense is largely dependent on the play of the defensive ends and cornerbacks. And the Giants could use more help at both spots. Quality is more important than quantity here.
General Summary: The #1 offseason emphasis so far has to form a team around Eli Manning that can get him back on track. See the hires of offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, quarterbacks coach Danny Langsdorf, and running backs coach Craig Johnson. If you have a franchise quarterback in the NFL playing at a top level, you should be a playoff team. But the Giants currently no longer have a lot of talent around Manning. They need help at every other offensive position and it will be virtually impossible to address all of these needs in one offseason. The Giants may rebound well enough to challenge for the NFC East title given the sorry state of the division, but they are far from seriously challenging the defense of the Seahawks and 49ers.
Defensively, the Giants should not be lulled into a false sense of security despite the dramatically-improved defensive ranking. The defense line and cornerback positions are in transition and it remains to be seen if the Giants can adequately restock themselves at both positions.