Last Updated: April 3, 2013
2013 FREE AGENT LOSSES
WR DOMENIK HIXON (to the Carolina Panthers): Coming off of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears in his right knee in 2010 and 2011, Hixon rebounded in 2012 with a solid season, catching 39 passes for 567 yards and two touchdowns. Hixon played in 13 games, starting three. He missed three games with a concussion and an ankle injury. Hixon was originally drafted by the Broncos in the 4th round of the 2006 NFL Draft. The Broncos cut him in October 2007 and the Giants immediately claimed him off of waivers. Hixon has good size and is a good athlete. The knee injuries may have permanently robbed him of his previous explosiveness, but he is an experienced, smooth receiver with good hands. Hixon also has experience returning kickoffs and punts and was a dangerous returner before the knee injuries.
DE OSI UMENYIORA (to the Atlanta Falcons): After missing half of 2011 with a knee injury, Umenyiora basically lost his starting job to Jason Pierre-Paul in 2012. While he logged a lot of minutes as a reserve, he only started four games and finished the season with his lowest sack total (six) since he missed the 2008 season with a knee injury. A two-time Pro Bowler (2005 and 2007) on the downside of his career, Umenyiora is still a very good athlete who runs extremely well. He still flashes on the pass rush and has a knack for stripping the football from opposing quarterbacks. Umenyiora is not a good run defender and is probably best suited for situational pass rush duty at this phase of his career. Despite his stature on the team, Umenyiora really isn’t much of a leader and has been prone to sulking about his contract.
LB CHASE BLACKBURN (to the Carolina Panthers): A season after being re-signed off the couch in November 2011, Blackburn won the starting middle linebacking job in training camp/preseason and ended up starting 15 games, missing one contest in November with a hamstring injury. Blackburn finished the season with 98 tackles, three sacks, six pass defenses, one interception, and four forced fumbles. Blackburn was originally signed by the Giants as an undrafted free agent after the 2005 NFL Draft. After starting 15 games in 2008-09, Blackburn was strictly a special teams player in 2010, serving as the unit’s captain. The Giants chose not to re-sign Blackburn in 2011 until injuries became a factor late in the season. An overachiever, Blackburn is a big linebacker who lacks ideal athleticism, speed, and quickness for the position. He is a very smart player who works hard on and off the field. Blackburn sets a good example for others to follow.
S KENNY PHILLIPS (to the Philadelphia Eagles): Phillips had a forgettable season after suffering a PCL and MCL injury to his right knee in Week 4. Phillips ended up playing in only seven games in 2012, starting six, and finishing with only 24 tackles and three pass defenses. Phillips was drafted in the 1st round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Giants. He suffered a potentially career-threatening left knee injury (patella femoral arthritis) in 2009. He returned as a full-time starter in 2010 and had his most productive season in 2011. Phillips has an excellent combination of size and athletic ability. When healthy, he has good speed and his range often discourages opposing quarterbacks from testing the deep middle of the secondary. Phillips is a good hitter and tackler.
TE MARTELLUS BENNETT (to the Chicago Bears): A newcomer to the Giants in 2012 as an unrestricted free agent, Bennett had a breakout season, starting all 16 games and finishing with career highs in receptions (55), yardage (626), and touchdowns (5). Bennett was originally drafted in the 2nd round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys. In four seasons with the Cowboys, Bennett caught 85 passes for 846 yards and four touchdowns. Bennett is a big man and a very good athlete for his size. As a receiver, he has the ability to threaten a defense down the field. Bennett has solid hands, but to reach the next level he needs to make more superlative and clutch plays in the passing game. Bennett is a good blocker, but he needs to work at being more consistent and finishing his blocks.
2012 FREE AGENT LOSSES
LB JONATHAN GOFF (to the Washington Redskins): Goff was placed on Injured Reserve in September 2011 before the season started with an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear to his right knee that he suffered in practice. Goff became the new full-time middle linebacker in 2010. He started all 16 games and finished with 80 tackles, one sack, two pass defenses, and one forced fumble. Goff was selected by the Giants in the 5th round of the 2008 NFL Draft. Goff’s rookie season was a wash as he was hurt early in the preseason with a fractured back and later suffered concussion and hamstring injuries. Goff did start the last four games at middle linebacker in 2009. Goff is a well-built player with decent athleticism. In 2010, Goff flashed at times against the run and in pass coverage. However, while his tackle total was respectable, the fact that it was not higher on a game-by-game basis raises questions about his instincts. Goff is smart and hardworking. He appears to be more of quiet type rather than a fiery leader.
DE DAVE TOLLEFSON (to the Oakland Raiders): Tollefson had his best season in 2011, playing in all 16 regular-season games with two starts. He finished with 21 tackles, five sacks (doubling the total from his first five seasons), and one forced fumble. Tollefson was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2006 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers. The Oakland Raiders signed Tollefson in January 2007 and the Giants signed him off of the Raiders’ Practice Squad in October 2007. In five seasons with the Giants, Tollefson has played in 63 regular-season games. Tollefson has good size and is a decent athlete, but he’s not overly quick or fast. He’s more of a try-hard, back-up-type who will give you a solid day’s work. While he occasionally flashes, he is an ordinary run defender and pass rusher.
WR DEVIN THOMAS (to the Chicago Bears): Since being claimed off of waivers from the Panthers by the Giants in November 2010, Thomas has had more of impact for New York on special teams than as a receiver. Thomas finished 2011 with only three catches for 37 yards. He combines good size and athleticism, but he has not yet impressed at the NFL level as a receiver with the Redskins (2008-10), Panthers (2010), and Giants (2010-11). In four seasons, he has caught 43 passes for 482 yards, and three touchdowns. Thomas needs to improve his ability to read coverages and run precise routes. While Thomas did not stick out as a kick returner for the Giants in 2011, he did flash as a gunner on punt coverage, including recovering two fumbles in the NFC Championship Game.
CB AARON ROSS (to the Jacksonville Jaguars): With the season-ending injury to Terrell Thomas in the preseason, Ross became the starting right corner once again in 2011. Ross had a solid year, finishing the regular season with career highs in tackles (60), pass defenses (12), and interceptions (four). Ross was drafted in the 1st round of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Giants. He started nine regular season games that year and 15 the following season. But Ross lost his starting job to Thomas in 2009 when a persistent hamstring injury ruined his season and caused him to miss 12 games. Ross was also limited in 2010 by a foot injury (plantar fascia tear). Ross combines good size and athleticism. He is fluid and smooth in coverage, but lacks ideal speed and quickness. There seems to be a game or two every season where Ross struggles in coverage. He can be aggressive and physical in run support.
WR MARIO MANNINGHAM (to the San Francisco 49ers): With the emergence of Victor Cruz, Manningham saw his overall productivity drop from 60 catches, 944 yards, and 9 touchdowns in 2010 to 39 catches, 523 yards, and 4 touchdowns in 2011. Injuries (concussion and knee issues) caused him to miss four games as well. Manningham lacks ideal size, but he is a very good athlete with good speed, quickness, and fluidity. He can threaten a defense down the field with his speed and quickness. He still has some issues reading coverages and running the proper routes. Manningham has good body control and adjusts well to the football. Although he has good hands, he is guilty of the occasional drop. Manningham runs well after the catch.
2011 FREE AGENT LOSSES
LB GERRIS WILKINSON (to the Jacksonville Jaguars): Gerris Wilkinson has been an injury-plagued disappointment ever since being drafted in the 3rd round of the 2006 NFL Draft by the Giants. In five seasons, he has only started seven games and none in the last two seasons. He was a complete non-factor on defense in 2010. He missed four games with a broken hand. Issues with with his knees (2007 and 2008) and wrist (2009) have also caused him to miss time. Wilkinson is a good athlete who runs well. But it is pretty telling that he can’t break into the starting lineup on an average-at-best unit in five seasons under four different defensive coordinators.
WR STEVE SMITH (to the Philadelphia Eagles): Smith was placed on Injured Reserve in December 2010 with an injury to his knee (articular cartilage) that required microfracture surgery. Smith earlier partially tore his pectoral muscle, an injury that caused him to miss four games. Smith finished 2010 with 48 catches for 529 yards (11.0 yards per catch) and three touchdowns in nine games. In 2009, Smith became a full-time starter and he responded with a superb season, finishing with 107 receptions (25 more than the franchise’s previous single-season record), 1,220 receiving yards (second-highest total in team history), and eight touchdowns (after only having on with his first two seasons with the Giants). Smith was voted first-alternate to the Pro Bowl and became the first Giants’ wide receiver in 41 years to go to the Pro Bowl when another player dropped out of the game due to injury. Smith was drafted by the Giants in the 2nd round of the 2007 NFL Draft. Smith missed the bulk of the 2007 season with a fractured scapula and a hamstring pull. Although he only played in five regular-season games, catching eight passes, Smith was a major contributor in the playoffs with 14 pass receptions. He led the Giants in receptions in 2008 with 57 as a third receiver. Smith has average size and speed. However, Smith is a quick and smooth athlete who knows how to change speeds and set up defenders. He reads defenses well, runs good routes, and has a feel for getting open. Smith will go over the middle, adjusts well to the football, and has good hands. He is a clutch player who is confident and dependable. Smith faces a lengthy rehabilitation process this offseason due to the knee surgery and it remains questionable how effective he will be in 2011 because of the injury.
S MICHAEL JOHNSON (to the Detroit Lions): Johnson was placed on Injured Reserve in late September 2010 with a herniated disc in his back. After becoming a full-time starter in 2008 and displaying some promise, Johnson regressed horribly in 2009, often appearing to be a liability in pass coverage and in run defense. In 2010, Johnson was also exposed in the Week 2 game against the Colts when Kenny Phillips left the game with an injury. Johnson was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Giants. Johnson combines nice size and athletic ability. However, he does not appear to be overly instinctive and does not make many plays on the football. Johnson appears particularly susceptible to play-action. In 2009, he did not hit or tackle very well.
WR DEREK HAGAN (to the Oakland Raiders): The Giants added Derek Hagan to the roster in November 2010 after injuries hit the wide receiving corps hard. It was Hagan’s second stint with the Giants as the team originally signed him in December 2008 after the Miami Dolphins waived him. The Dolphins drafted Hagan in the 3rd round of the 2006 NFL Draft. In 36 games with Miami, Hagan caught 53 passes for 645 yards and three touchdowns. In 16 games with the Giants in 2009, Hagan caught 8 passes for 101 yards and 1 touchdown. The Giants waived him in the last round of cuts in early September 2010. After the Giants re-signed him in November, Hagan played in the last seven games of the season, starting four, and finished the year with 24 receptions for 223 yards (9.3 yards per catch) and one touchdown. Hagan has good size and athleticism. He runs good routes and adjusts well for the football. However, he is not overly fast or quick. Hagan is a decent special teams player.
TE KEVIN BOSS (to the Oakland Raiders): Boss remains one of the league’s better all-around tight ends despite dealing with an assortment of injuries (concussion, back, hip) in 2010. The hip injury required offseason surgery in January 2011. In all, Boss started 13 of 15 games, finishing with 35 catches for 531 yards (15.2 yards per reception) and five touchdowns. In 2009, Boss had career highs in catches (42) and yardage (567). In 2008, he was named a first-alternate to the Pro Bowl. Boss was drafted by the Giants in the 5th round of the 2007 NFL Draft out Western Oregon University (Division-II). Boss is a tall target who has added muscle and bulk. While he remains a better receiver than blocker, Boss has steadily improved his blocking. As a receiver, Boss adjusts well to the football and has good hands. He has decent speed and can run after the catch. Boss will probably never be a top blocker, but he works hard at it and has improved. He is a tough and team-oriented player.
DT BARRY COFIELD (to the Washington Redskins): Cofield rebounded with a strong season in 2010 after a disappointing 2009 season when he was coming off of offseason microfracture surgery. Cofield started 16 games and finished with 54 tackles, 4 sacks, 4 pass defenses, 1 forced fumble, and 1 fumble recovery. He did this despite playing with a shoulder injury that bothered him all year and required surgery. Cofield was originally drafted in 4th round of the 2006 NFL Draft by the Giants. Cofield is an average-sized defensive tackle, but he is strong, consistent, and occasionally flashes the ability to penetrate and make plays behind the scrimmage. While Cofield is not overly stout at the point-of-attack, he is a better-than-average run defender who fights hard and hustles. While Cofield has only had 10.5 sacks in five seasons, he did improve in that area in 2010. Cofield is smart and team-oriented.
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