Mar 022015
 
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Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants (August 28, 2014)

Jason Pierre-Paul – © USA TODAY Sports Images

As had been expected, the New York Giants have designated defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul as the team’s non-exclusive Franchise player. The deadline for designating a Franchise player was today, March 2. A Franchise tag binds an unrestricted free agent to the team for one year if certain conditions are met. Each team may only designate one player each year as that team’s Franchise player.

There are two types of Franchise tags:

  • An “exclusive” franchise player must be offered a one-year contract for an amount no less than the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position as of a date in April of the current year in which the tag will apply, or 120 percent of the player’s previous year’s salary, whichever is greater. Exclusive franchise players cannot negotiate with other teams. The player’s team has all the negotiating rights to the exclusive player.
  • A “non-exclusive” franchise player must be offered a one-year contract for an amount no less than the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position for the previous year, or 120 percent of the player’s previous year’s salary, whichever is greater. A non-exclusive franchise player may negotiate with other NFL teams, but if the player signs an offer sheet from another team, the original team has a right to match the terms of that offer, or if it does not match the offer and thus loses the player, is entitled to receive two first-round draft picks as compensation.

Pierre-Paul will now count $14.813 million against the team’s $143.4 million 2015 adjusted salary cap (or more than 10 percent of the cap), unless the Giants (1) remove the Franchise designation, (2) sign him to a longer-term deal by July 15, or (3) choose not to match another team’s tender offer (only appropriate if Pierre-Paul was designated on a non-exclusive basis).

According to The New York Daily News, a source told the paper that the Giants will continue to attempt to sign Pierre-Paul to a long-term deal, but the team is not afraid to play out the season on the $14.813 million salary.

In his fifth NFL season, the talented but inconsistent Pierre-Paul had his second-best year, starting all 16 games and finishing with 77 tackles, 12.5 sacks, six pass defenses, and three forced fumbles. Pierre-Paul played the run well most of the year and finished up strong as a pass rusher after a slow start, with nine of his sacks coming in the last five games of the season.

Teams are allowed to contact and enter into contract discussions with free agents of other teams on March 7, but cannot officially sign players from other teams until March 10.

Mar 022015
 
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New York Giants Helmets (August 10, 2013)

© USA TODAY Sports Images

Today is Deadline to Designate Franchise and Transition Players: The time frame in which teams can designate Franchise or Transition from February 16 to March 2 ends today at 4:00PM ET. It has been widely reported and speculated that the New York Giants will designate defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul as their Franchise Player. Teams can begin negotiation with other teams’ free agents on March 7 and begin signing other players on March 10.

Giants.com Interview with LB Devon Kennard: A video of a Giants.com interview with LB Devon Kennard is available at Giants.com.

Article on WR Odell Beckham: The crazy life of Odell Beckham Jr.: How the Giants rookie is handling sudden stardom by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Article on DE Jason Pierre-Paul and the 2015 NFL Draft: How the Giants’ No. 9 pick could give them leverage in contract talks with Jason Pierre-Paul by Nick Powell for NJ.com

Article on LB Jon Beason and the Middle Linebacker Position: Decision time: What will Giants do with linebacker Jon Beason? by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Article on the New York Giants and Their Own Free Agents: Here’s how Giants should handle their top five potential free agents by Ebenezer Samuel of The New York Daily News

Article on the New York Giants and Recent NFL Cuts: Notable NFL cuts that could make sense for Giants by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Article on the New York Giants and Possible Offseason Roster Improvements: Which positions can the Giants fill in free agency or the draft? by Nick Powell for NJ.com

Article on the New York Giants and the 2015 NFL Draft: What should Giants do if wide receiver Kevin White or Amari Cooper is available at No. 9? by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Article on the New York Giants and the Salary Cap: Giants’ spending lags on defensive side by Dan Graziano of ESPN.com

Article on Former New York Giant DT Jay Alford: Ex-Giant Jay Alford calls Steve Spagnuolo the ‘best defensive coordinator’ he ever played with by  Maria Guardado for NJ.com

Feb 242015
 
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Osi Umenyiora, New York Giants (October 21, 2012)

Osi Umenyiora – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Atlanta Falcons defensive end Osi Umenyiora, who spent 10 years with the New York Giants from 2003-2012, recently told ESPN.com that he would like to retire as a New York Giant. Umenyiora will become an unrestricted free agent in early March.

“It was nearly a third of my life that I was there in New York, and I did a lot of good things there,” Umenyiora said. “As a team, we won some Super Bowls. I was able to go to a couple of Pro Bowls and be like an All-Pro player over there. Unless I’m able to do that somewhere else – which I don’t know how likely that is – then it would only make sense, whenever it is that I retire.

“I’m not going to play another 10 years. I’m not going to play another three years. Whenever it is that I retire, I think it would only make sense for me to do that as a Giant.”

The 33-year old Umenyiora was originally drafted by the Giants in the second round of the 2003 NFL Draft. In nine seasons (he missed the 2008 season with a knee injury), he played in 129 regular-season games and accrued 376 tackles, 75 sacks, and forced 32 fumbles. Umenyiora has been named All Pro twice (2005 and 2010) and played in two Pro Bowls (2005 and 2007). He also was a key member of two NFL Championship teams for the Giants in 2007 and 2011.

Umenyiora signed with the Falcons in during free agency in 2013. While he played in all 16 games in 2014 for the Falcons, he did not start and finished the season with only 12 tackles and 2.5 sacks.

“Zero plans to retire at this moment,” said Umenyiora. “I feel like I can still play, No. 1. The way things ended last year, I’m just not going to end my career like that. That’s not going to happen.

“I feel like when put in the right situation and given the opportunity to play, I would still be able to help somebody. I want to end the way it’s supposed to end.

“I think I’ll know exactly when the time (to retire) is right. When you’re physically not able to play anymore, you’ve got to be honest with yourself. You have to watch tape and study yourself from when you had good years, when you had not-so-good years. You have to look at your explosion, how you’re playing the game; if you still want to practice. And you have to have enough pride that you’re not going to go out there and embarrass yourself. You don’t want to go out there and look like a fool. I think the league will let you know when you’re done. Ain’t no charity cases being handed out. Either they feel like you can help them or that’s it for you. If you’re unable to play, they’ll tell you because you’re not going to have a job.

“More importantly, I think the league will let you know when you’re done. Ain’t no charity cases being handed out. Either they feel like you can help them or that’s it for you. If you’re unable to play, they’ll tell you because you’re not going to have a job.

“Do I expect to get a look from the Falcons? Absolutely. I think I did the right things when I was there, especially last year. I did and said all the right things, and I’m in great shape. Whether or not they decide to re-sign me, that’s another story. But do I expect them to look into it? I would think so.”

Articles on the New York Giants and Free Agency:

Article on the New York Giants and the 2015 NFL Draft: An updated list of players visiting with the Giants at the 2015 NFL Combine by Nick Powell for NJ.com

Article on the New York Giants Safeties: Expect Giants to give young safeties a shot by Dan Graziano of ESPN.com

Feb 212015
 
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Jerry Reese, New York Giants (February 21, 2015)

Jerry Reese – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Jerry Reese Addresses Media at NFL Combine: New York Giants General Manager Jerry Reese addressed the media on Saturday at the NFL Combine. The video of the media session is available at Giants.com.

Q: You said you saw a couple fast receivers out there – did it bring you back to last year?
A: I am not sure about that, but there were a couple of fast guys out there this morning.

Q: Where were you in the process last year with Odell [Beckham Jr.]? How did that evolve and what did you see from here?
A: We had our pre-[combine] meetings. There are a lot of holes until you do the combine, pro days and the interviews. We talked about him a little bit, just pre-combine.

Q: Did anything here sway you or really define your intentions towards [Beckham]?
A: He was fast and he caught the ball. He really caught the ball nice. We call it arrogant hands. He had that. That caught our attention and he was really fast.

Q: Odell told us at the Pro Bowl that he played the last half of the season with two torn hamstrings. Is that accurate or is that an exaggeration?
A: I don’t know about that. I think he is trying to be a hero. I don’t think he could play with two torn hamstrings and run fast like that.

Q: I assume if he would have had that, you would not have let him play…?
A: I don’t think so. I think our doctors would have caught that.

Q: To clarify, these were [injuries] that happened at the beginning of the year that healed?
A: According to our doctors, it was healed up. He may have gotten fatigued later in the season. I don’t think you can go out there and run like that if you have a couple torn hamstrings.

Q: Where are you with Jason [Pierre-Paul]?
A: We are talking, but that is all I am going to say about that. It really is not appropriate to talk about where we are with respect to that, but we are talking.

Q: Have you had discussions with Eli [Manning] that you could share?
A: It is inappropriate to talk about that, too.

Q: How difficult is it to evaluate these spread quarterbacks who don’t do a lot of the things you are asking them to do at this level?
A: I think it depends, if you have a run-spread, you have seen in this league that the spread offense works. If you are going to run that, then I think you draft those types of guys. If you draft a spread, read-option quarterback and ask him to drop back and read defenses, I think it would be difficult for him. He would have to – it would be a big learning curve, I think.

Q: How would you describe the balance of risk/reward with guys putting up great numbers at the combine to knowing if that is going to translate to being a great football player?
A: With us, like most teams, it is what you do on the field. [That] weighs the most when you are evaluating a player. You just fill in some holes and some of the blanks with the running and things they do at the combine, [such as] the interviews. What they do on the field carries the most weight with us.

Q: I know you don’t want to say specifically what is going on with JPP, but in the past when you have used the franchise-tag, it has been a way to buy time for a long-term negotiation. Do you have any philosophy with allowing that player to be on the tag all year long, even if it [takes up] a lot of cap space?
A: I am not going to talk about that. We are just going to keep our options open with respect to that. Sorry about that.

Q: How much healthier are you guys in regards to cap space than you have been the last couple of years?
A: I think we are in pretty good health. We are headed in the right direction with respect to the cap.

Q: Is it a concern to you at all with how that money gets distributed?
A: I think we will be able to do what we need to do. I think we will have enough money to do what we need to do in the offseason, as far as free agency goes and whatever we decide to do with the other guys.

Q: Do you take a look at [Marcus] Mariota just in case he winds up in your division?
A: We look at everybody.

Q: Do you look at specific players and say we may have to face them, so do you look at them with a different eye that way?
A: We are evaluating him if he is there when we pick at nine. We are evaluating him for that, not necessarily if he is going to be in our division or something like that. We are evaluating him as a prospect right now.

Q: Have the changes to the conduct policy changed the way you guys evaluate off the field concerns? Have you noticed any change in that regard?
A: We always try to weigh the options of what a guy’s off the field issues are. Sometimes we have taken chances on some guys who have had some issues. We have taken guys like that. You have to weigh the options.

Q: Now they come in with a strike against them because of the new policy… Does that change the way you weigh that?
A: I say this all the time; if a guy has a blotter of things, they usually don’t change that. Again, these kids are really young and they make some bad decisions. You can’t kill these guys, 18,19, 20-year old kids for decisions they make.

Q: How do you look at this year’s draft and where do you see more depth than possibly other positions?
A: There are good players in this draft all over the place. I don’t really have one position that is deeper than the other.

Q: How do you assess your offensive line going into the offseason now and the possibility of moving [Weston] Richburg and [Justin] Pugh around?
A: We are going to continue to build our offensive line just like we are going to do every position. I think we still have some work to do there. We are going to continue to try and build our offensive line.

Q: When you look at Richburg, do you see him as a center? Coach [Coughlin] said the other day that he is going to compete for center…?
A: He played center in college. We had some injuries early on, so we put him in there at guard. He really didn’t get a chance to compete for the job. He will get a chance to compete for the center job.

Q: Getting back to the issue of prospects with character questions – because of the fact now they are trained on how to answer questions, I s it getting more difficult to judge the sincerity of these kids?
A: They are really good. We had interviews the last couple of nights. They are well-versed in what they want to say. It is a little tougher right now. We have some crafty questions that we can get the right answers.

Q: Do you have every intention of having Jon Beason as your middle linebacker next year?
A: Jon is under contract. We will see where that goes, but he is under contract.

Q: What do you see from the kid from Washington, [Shaq] Thompson?
A: He is a good player. He is versatile. I think he has played a lot of different positions. He has played linebacker, he has played some safety and some running back. He is a Swiss Army knife-type of guy.

Q: Do you envision him in the NFL at one of those positions?
A: I think the more you can do in this league, I think whoever takes him, he will have a chance to play any of those positions.

Q: If you think back to this time last year, could you have known what you were getting with Odell?
A: We thought he was a good player, we really did. We thought he was a terrific player and he obviously had the injuries early on and everyone was down on him a little bit. We tried to put him back in there a little too soon. With those hamstrings, you just have to rest them and let them heal.

Q: When you are picking in the top-10, does it change anything [because] it is obviously more of an investment with that guy?
A: If you are picking in the top 10 or the top 12, you should be getting… That is how the system is built. You should be getting better players. If you are picking last, the players are not the same quality as the first 10 or 12 players. If you are picking high in the draft, you should get better players.

Q: Does that increase the pressure on you and your staff to not make a mistake picking a guy up that high?
A: No, we work hard on the ninth player just like we would the 32nd player. We work hard on it.

Q: How do view it after picking a receiver last year picking ninth and the potential to go back to that position… Do the odds of that happening decrease because you went in that direction last year?
A: Best player available. We will take the best player on the board.

Q: It is obviously a quarterback driven league… Do you get calls about Ryan [Nassib]?
A: I can’t talk about that. That is inappropriate to talk about that. I can’t speak about that.

Q: How do you feel about the safety position going into next year?
A: I think we are going to try to upgrade that position just like all the other positions. We are going to try to upgrade every position as we go. Free agency, the draft, we will try to upgrade very position.

Q: Do you view [Cooper Taylor] and [Nat Berhe] as guys who could step in there as starters?
A: They are going to get a chance to compete. Cooper, obviously, needs to stay healthy. I think both of those guys will get a chance to compete at that position.

Q: What did you learn from having the draft a little later in regards to how you adjusted your schedule?
A: I think with the schedule you have a little bit more time. If you are out of the playoffs, you have a little bit more time to start your evaluation process. We are working hard like we always were.

Q: The receiving position is not a huge need if Victor Cruz is back and healthy… Where is he in his rehab and how much can you count on him being the old Victor Cruz?
A: When a guy has a big injury like Victor had, you can’t put all your eggs in his basket. Our doctors said he looks good. I see him down in the training room working out with our trainers and doctors and he looks good. Until you get out there – his game is quickness. Until you get out there and move around, you never know how he is going to recover from that. We are hoping and praying that he comes back 100 percent and be the Victor Cruz that we know, but you can’t put 100 percent in that basket.

Q: Do you have to plan for a plan B with another receiver just in case?
A: We will upgrade receiver. We will try to upgrade that spot as well. If Victor is back and Odell and Rueben [Randle], that is a pretty good core. There are a couple of other guys [such as] [Preston] Parker, there are some more names, [Corey] Washington and there are some young guys. If there is a good receiver, we will draft him.

Q: After the season ended some of your guys stuck around and kept going as if they were in the playoffs, as it might be a benefit next year… Do you see that as a benefit?
A: It is good to see the guys hungry and want to get right into the offseason and start working. We want to be in the postseason, so to see some of those guys hang around, it shows me what kind of dedication they have and how hungry they are to get back into the playoffs. We like that. Obviously there are some rules now with the offseason program with what they can do with the coaches, but some individual stuff they can do on their own – we have had a lot of guys in there.

Q: How much of a priority is it for you guys to fill a role of what David Wilson was going to give you?
A: He is a little different. We have some big bangers. David was a fast, quick guy who could catch the ball out of the backfield and return kicks. When you lose that dynamic type player, I t stings a little bit, but it is football and we will try to replace that position.

Q: How do you feel Ryan Nassib is progressing?
A: I think Ryan has done a nice job. I think if Eli got dinged up in some kind of way during the season, I think he could jump in there and help us win games. I think he has done a nice job. He prepares himself as if he is going to play, so he has done a nice job.

Q: Rueben has had some ups and downs throughout his career… How do you feel about him and how comfortable with him are you right now?
A: I think Rueben gets banged on a lot. Sometimes he should get banged on, but I think he gets banged on sometimes a little too much. I think he is a good, young player and all he needs are some chances. With Odell and Victor, I think he will get plenty of chances.

10 things we learned from GM Jerry Reese by Dan Salomone of Giants.com

Giants.com Interview with Giants Officials: Video clips of interviews with the following New York Giants officials at the NFL Combine are available at Giants.com:

  • Head Coach Tom Coughlin (Video)
  • Executive Scout Steve Verderosa (Video)
  • Scout Chris Pettit (Video)

Article on DE Jason Pierre-Paul: Giants have no choice but to slap franchise tag on Jason Pierre-Paul by Ralph Vacchiano of The New York Daily News

Feb 212015
 
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Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants (September 14, 2014)

Jason Pierre-Paul – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Giants and Jason Pierre-Paul Have Not Talked Contract: According to NJ.com and ESPN.com, the New York Giants and representatives of defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul have not begun talking about a new contract. Pierre-Paul is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on March 10 (players can actually begin talking to new teams on March 7).

Media speculation continues that the Giants will designate Pierre-Paul the team’s Franchise player, which the Giants can do during a two-week period from February 16 to March 2. By doing so, Pierre-Paul is all but certain to remain a Giants through the 2015 NFL season. He could play out the year on the near $15 million tender or still possibly sign a long-term deal.

“We are convinced that we want (Pierre-Paul) back, without a doubt,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin on Thursday. “There has been a lot of different discussions, and hopefully he is going to remain a Giant…The goal is for him to be a Giant and play as a Giant forever, and retire as a Giant. How that works out is another issue.”

Free Agent Rumors: According to ESPN.com, the New York Giants have expressed interest in re-signing soon-to-be unrestricted free agents cornerback Walter Thurmond and defensive tackle Mike Patterson.

ESPN.com is also reporting that soon-to-be unrestricted free agent safety Antrel Rolle is looking for a bigger contract than the Giants are willing to offer.

“Certainly we would like him to come back. Obviously we do have financial restrictions involved,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin of Rolle on Thursday.

Salary Cap Expected to Be Near $143-145 Million: According to press reports, the 2015 NFL salary cap is expected to be near $143-145 million, which would be a $10-12 million increase over the 2014 NFL salary cap.

Article on the New York Giants and the NFL Combine: An updated list of players visiting with the Giants at the 2015 NFL Combine by Nick Powell for NJ.com

BBI on CBS Sports Radio (940 AM) on Sunday: BBI’s owner Eric Kennedy will be on CBS Sports Radio’s GameFace this Sunday at 9:20 AM on 940 AM in the NY/CT market and on www.940sportsradio.com. GameFace is America’s longest running, year round, NFL radio show.

Feb 172015
 
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Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants (December 28, 2014)

Jason Pierre-Paul – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The New York Post is reporting that the Giants will designate soon-to-be unrestricted free agent defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul the team’s “non-exclusive” Franchise Player. Teams are able to designate a Franchise Player between February 16 and March 2. Other teams can begin talking to Pierre-Paul and his agent when the free agency negotiating period begins on March 7.

A Franchise tag binds a player to the team for one year if certain conditions are met. Each team may only designate one player each year as that team’s Franchise player. There are two types of Franchise tags:

  • An “exclusive” franchise player must be offered a one-year contract for an amount no less than the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position as of a date in April of the current year in which the tag will apply, or 120 percent of the player’s previous year’s salary, whichever is greater. Exclusive franchise players cannot negotiate with other teams. The player’s team has all the negotiating rights to the exclusive player.
  • A “non-exclusive” franchise player must be offered a one-year contract for an amount no less than the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position for the previous year, or 120 percent of the player’s previous year’s salary, whichever is greater. A non-exclusive franchise player may negotiate with other NFL teams, but if the player signs an offer sheet from another team, the original team has a right to match the terms of that offer, or if it does not match the offer and thus loses the player, is entitled to receive two first-round draft picks as compensation.

The Post is reporting that the Giants would prefer to negotiate a new deal that would pay Pierre-Paul somewhere around $11-12 million instead of the $14.6 million that it would take for Pierre-Paul to play the entire season under the Franchise tag. By using the Franchise designation on him, it will discourage other teams from attempting to sign him to an offer sheet, give the Giants two #1 draft picks if the team chose not to match the offer, and give the Giants more time to negotiate a longer-term deal.

Article on DT Cullen Jenkins: Giants’ Cullen Jenkins ‘kind of knew’ pay cut was coming after rough season by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Article on the New York Giants Salary Cap: Giants’ cap adjustments begin with Cullen Jenkins’ pay cut by Dan Graziano of ESPN.com

Feb 162015
 
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Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants (November 3, 2014)

Jason Pierre-Paul – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The New York Giants must decide soon whether or not to use the Franchise or Transition tag on soon-to-be unrestricted free agent defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. Starting today (February 16), NFL teams have a two-week window to decide on to designate Franchise or Transition players about to become unrestricted free agents. That window closes on March 2. Other teams can begin negotiating with free agents on March 7 and sign the to contracts on March 10.

A Franchise tag binds a player to the team for one year if certain conditions are met. Each team may only designate one player each year as that team’s Franchise player. There are two types of Franchise tags:

  • An “exclusive” franchise player must be offered a one-year contract for an amount no less than the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position as of a date in April of the current year in which the tag will apply, or 120 percent of the player’s previous year’s salary, whichever is greater. Exclusive franchise players cannot negotiate with other teams. The player’s team has all the negotiating rights to the exclusive player.
  • A “non-exclusive” franchise player must be offered a one-year contract for an amount no less than the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position for the previous year, or 120 percent of the player’s previous year’s salary, whichever is greater. A non-exclusive franchise player may negotiate with other NFL teams, but if the player signs an offer sheet from another team, the original team has a right to match the terms of that offer, or if it does not match the offer and thus loses the player, is entitled to receive two first-round draft picks as compensation.

Teams can also use a Transition tag, which also guarantees the original club the right of first refusal to match any offer the player may make with another team. The transition tag can be used once a year by each club. A transition player must be offered a one-year contract for an amount no less than the average of the top 10 salaries of last season at the player’s position or 120 percent of the player’s previous year’s salary, whichever is greater. A transition player designation gives the club a first-refusal right to match within seven days an offer sheet given to the player by another club. If the club matches, it retains the player. If it does not match, it receives no compensation.

The upside to using a Franchise tag on Pierre-Paul is that the team could ensure that he remains with the Giants in 2015. The downside is he would count for about $15 million against the 2015 salary cap.

In his fifth NFL season, Pierre-Paul had his second-best season in 2014, starting all 16 games and finishing with 77 tackles, 12.5 sacks, six pass defenses, and three forced fumbles. Pierre-Paul played the run well most of the year and finished up strong as a pass rusher after a slow start, with nine of his sacks coming in the last five games of the season. Pierre-Paul was originally drafted in the 1st round of the 2010 NFL Draft. His best season came in 2011 when he accrued 86 tackles and 16.5 sacks. 2012 and 2013 were down seasons for him with a total of only 8.5 sacks. Pierre-Paul had surgery in June 2013 to repair a herniated disc in his lower back and suffered a shoulder injury that caused him to miss the last five games of that season.

The Giants have used the Franchise tag twice in recent years, once for running back Brandon Jacobs in 2009 and once for punter Steve Weatherford in 2012. But both were signed to long-term deals soon after being tagged.

Feb 092015
 
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Johnathan Hankins, New York Giants (September 14, 2014)

Johnathan Hankins – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Ever since the New York Giants transitioned to the 4-3 defense from the 3-4 in 1994, the defensive line has been the heart of a New York Giants defense that had made eight playoff appearances in 21 seasons, and has helped the team reach three NFL Championship games, winning two. Yet with the free agent losses of defensive end Justin Tuck and defensive tackle Linval Joseph before the season, and a free agent spending spree at cornerback, the Giants entered training camp with the expectation by some that the defensive backfield might surpass the defensive line as the strength of the team. In the end, injuries sabotaged the secondary and the defensive line did indeed regress.

The Giants finished 29th in defense in terms of yards allowed and 22nd in points allowed. The Giants were 30th against the run in terms of total yards allowed and 32nd in terms of yards-per-rush allowed (4.9). New York was 18th against the pass. The good news was they finished 4th in the NFL in terms of sacks with 47. But after Perry Fewell’s defense gave up over 6,000 yards for the third time in four seasons (the only times in history of the franchise that has occurred), he was fired in January.

The best players up front were clearly defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins. But Pierre-Paul started the season off slowly and didn’t really impact games the way he should until the Giants were already out of playoff contention. Hankins had a breakout year in his sophomore season. But it wasn’t enough.

Mathias Kiwanuka started 11 games at left defensive end, but did not play well and finished the season on Injured Reserve. Free agent acquisition Robert Ayers flashed as a pass rusher at both defensive tackle and end, but was inconsistent against the run and also finished the season on IR. The coaching staff did not appear to trust Damontre Moore, who did not start a game. By year’s end, he was surprisingly passed on the depth chart by undrafted rookie Kerry Wynn.

At tackle, Cullen Jenkins was bothered by a nagging calf issue and was barely noticeable. Mike Patterson and Markus Kuhn were easily blocked and rarely made any plays. Jay Bromley saw more action down the stretch, but his rookie season was a wash.

Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants (December 14, 2014)

Jason Pierre-Paul – © USA TODAY Sports Images

DEFENSIVE ENDS

In his fifth NFL season, Jason Pierre-Paul had his second-best season, starting all 16 games and finishing with 77 tackles, 12.5 sacks, six pass defenses, and three forced fumbles. Pierre-Paul played the run well most of the year and finished up strong as a pass rusher after a slow start, with nine of his sacks coming in the last five games of the season. Pierre-Paul was originally drafted in the 1st round of the 2010 NFL Draft. His best season came in 2011 when he accrued 86 tackles and 16.5 sacks. 2012 and 2013 were down seasons for him with a total of only 8.5 sacks. Pierre-Paul had surgery in June 2013 to repair a herniated disc in his lower back and suffered a shoulder injury that caused him to miss the last five games of that season. Pierre-Paul has an excellent combination of size, strength, and athleticism. When healthy and focused, Pierre-Paul can be an explosive, disruptive difference-maker. His tremendous wingspan helps him to bat passes down at the line of scrimmage (28 career pass defenses and 2 interceptions). As a pass rusher, he can beat blockers with both power and movement skills. He could improve his initial quickness off the snap. Pierre-Paul is a very good run defender both at the point-of-attack as well as in backside pursuit. He can be vulnerable to misdirection such as on read-option plays. To become a truly great player, Pierre-Paul needs to be consistently great on a game-to-game basis and not disappear in some contests.

Mathias Kiwanuka started the first 11 games of the season, but he was placed on Injured Reserve in December 2014 with a knee injury that troubled him much of the year. Kiwanuka had a disappointing season, finishing with only 28 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles. Kiwanuka has shifted between defensive end and linebacker ever since he was drafted in the 1st round of the 2006 NFL Draft. He primarily played linebacker for the Giants in 2007 and 2010-12, and defensive end in 2006, 2008-09, and 2013-14. Kiwanuka combines good size and overall athleticism, but he never really developed as expected and now may be slowing down. Kiwanuka has never been a consistent pass rusher and his play against the run deteriorated in 2014.

Robert Ayers, New York Giants (November 16, 2014)

Robert Ayers – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Robert Ayers proved to be one of the team’s best pass rushers as key rotational player who could play both end and defensive tackle in pass rush situations. Before he was placed on Injured Reserve in December 2014 with a torn pectoral muscle, in 12 games with one start, Ayers accrued 22 tackles, five sacks, one pass defense, and one forced fumble. Ayers was originally drafted in the 1st round of the 2009 NFL by the Broncos. In five seasons with the Broncos, Ayers played in 72 regular-season games with 27 starts. He signed with the Giants as a free agent in April 2014. Ayers has good size for a defensive end and his quickness and overall athleticism presents problems for guards and centers when he lines up at tackle in pass rush situations. He is an average run defender at best and would earn more playing time if he could improve in this area.

More was hoped for and expected from Damontre Moore in 2014. Moore played in all 16 games but he had no starts and finished the year with 32 tackles, 5.5 sacks, and two pass defenses. Moore was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Giants. Moore lacks ideal size and timed speed, but he flashes as a pass rusher. His biggest issues are his sub-par play against the run and mental mistakes, the latter two causing him to be by-passed on the depth chart.

Kerry Wynn, New York Giants (December 21, 2014)

Kerry Wynn – © USA TODAY Sports Images

An undrafted rookie free agent signed after the 2014 NFL Draft, Kerry Wynn was a pleasant surprise. Not only did he make the 53-man roster but he received significant playing time in the final month of the season and finished the year with 17 tackles, 1.5 sacks, one pass defense, and one interception. Wynn has a nice combination of size, strength, and overall athletic ability. He appears to be a smart, heady player who performed well against the run. He did not really stick out as a pass rusher and will need to improve in this area.

Paul Hazel was signed to the Practice Squad and then 53-man roster in December 2014. Hazel was originally signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars as a rookie free agent after the 2013 NFL Draft. He was claimed by the Browns after the Jaguars waived him and he played in 13 games in 2013 for Cleveland. The Texans then claimed Hazel off of waivers from the Browns in March 2014, but he did not make the team. Hazel is a tall, thin pass rusher who has spent time at linebacker.

Jordan Stanton was signed to the Practice Squad in August 2014, cut, and then added to the Practice Squad again in December 2014. Stanton was originally signed by the Giants as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2014 NFL Draft. Stanton has decent size and flashes some ability, but he did not really standout in the 2014 preseason.

Johnathan Hankins, New York Giants (December 14, 2014)

Johnathan Hankins – © USA TODAY Sports Images

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

Johnathan Hankins became a full-time starter in 2014, a year after he was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2013 NFL Draft and playing in 11 games as a reserve. Hankins started all 16 games and finished the year with 51 tackles, seven sacks, three pass defenses, and one forced fumble. Hankins has a nice combination of size, strength, and overall athletic ability. He is a stout run defender. Hankins surprised with his ability to rush the passer both in terms of his power and agility. Hankins has the ability to become one of the NFL’s better defensive tackles.

In 2014, Cullen Jenkins was troubled by a calf injury, missed four games, and had a sub-par season, finishing with only 16 tackles and one sack in 12 games with 11 starts. Jenkins was originally signed by Green Bay Packers as an undrafted free agent after the 2003 NFL Draft. He did not make the team but spent time in NFL Europe and then re-signed with the Packers in 2004. Jenkins played with the Packers (2004-10) until he signed with the Eagles (2011-12). He was signed by the Giants in March 2013 after he was released by the Philadelphia Eagles. Jenkins lacks ideal size and is on the downside of his career. In his prime, he was a solid two-way defensive tackle who could play the run and rush the passer. Versatile, he has experience as a defensive tackle and defensive end in the 4-3, and as a defensive end in the 3-4.

Mike Patterson played all 16 games in 2014, starting eight, but he only finished the season with 27 tackles and no sacks or other big plays. Patterson was originally drafted in the 1st round of the 2005 NFL Draft by Philadelphia, where in eight seasons he played in 115 regular-season games with 99 starts. Patterson underwent brain surgery in January 2012 to repair an arteriovenous malformation. He played in just five games in 2012 before being placed on the reserve/non-football illness list with pneumonia. Patterson was signed by the Giants in April 2013 after being cut by the Philadelphia Eagles. Patterson lacks ideal size. He is a non-factor on the pass rush and his run defense deteriorated in 2014.

Markus Kuhn, New York Giants (December 7, 2014)

Markus Kuhn – © USA TODAY Sports Images

In his third season with the Giants, Markus Kuhn saw his most playing time, playing in 14 games with one start. He finished the season with 19 tackles and one sack. Kuhn was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Giants. He suffered a torn ACL knee injury that season and began the following season on the Reserve/Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) List before being activated to the 53-man roster in November. Kuhn was born in Germany and was only a one-year starter in college. Kuhn has good size and he is a hard worker, but he does not really stand out as either a run defender or pass rusher.

The Giants drafted Jay Bromley in the 3rd round of the 2014 NFL Draft. While active for eight games, he did not see a lot of snaps and only finished the season with five tackles and no sacks. Bromley combines decent size and strength with good athletic ability. Bromley is more of a 3-technique disruptor than 1-technique run stuffer. He needs to improve his play against the run.

Dominique Hamilton spent most of the season on the Practice Squad but was signed to the 53-man roster twice in December 2014. Hamilton originally signed with the Oakland Raiders as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2012 NFL Draft. The Raiders cut him and he was on NFL practice squads in 2012 (Redskins) and 2013 (Redskins and Chiefs). The Chiefs waived him in August 2014 and the Giants signed him to the Practice Squad in September. Hamilton looks the part with excellent size and long arms. He’s not overly quick or agile. Hamilton is a better run defender than pass rusher.

Feb 072015
 
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Jason Pierre-Paul’s Contract Voided: The New York Daily News is reporting that defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul’s rookie contract was voided on Friday. This expected move means Pierre-Paul will become an unrestricted free agent in March unless the Giants protect him with a Transition or Franchise tag. The Daily News is reporting that the expected Franchise tag number for defensive ends is expected to be approximately $15 million.

Other clubs are allowed to begin negotiating with free agents on March 7 and teams can officially sign another team’s free agents on March 10. Teams can designate Transition or Franchise players any time between February 16 and March 2.

“We would certainly like (Pierre-Paul) back, but it would have to be at the right price, something that makes sense for us,” said Giants President and CEO John Mara on December 30. “He certainly had a great finish to the season and showed the type of player that he can be and that he will be going forward. I would be very surprised if he was not a Giant next year.”

Pierre-Paul just turned 26 last month and his best football could still be in front of him. But he has had difficulty recapturing his tremendous productivity from his sophomore NFL season in 2011 when he accrued 86 tackles and 16.5 sacks. Those numbers plummeted to 66 tackles and 6.5 sacks in 2012 and 27 tackles and 2 sacks in 2013.

Pierre-Paul had surgery in June 2013 to repair a herniated disc in his lower back and he never seemed to fully rebound from that procedure during the 2013 season. He flashed some of his old form in Week 10 that year but also suffered a shoulder injury that caused him to miss the last five games of the season.

In his fifth year in 2014, Pierre-Paul had his second-best season, starting all 16 games and finishing with 77 tackles, 12.5 sacks, six pass defenses, and three forced fumbles. Pierre-Paul played the run well most of the year and finished up strong as a pass rusher after a slow start, with nine of his sacks coming in the last five games of the season.

Much more was hoped for and expected in 2014, but JPP remains the one player in the front seven that other teams need to account for. If he leaves, the Giants will have a major hole to fill on a defense already pot-marked with holes. But bringing him back is not a no-brainer. There is a salary cap and JPP clearly believes he is one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL and wants to be paid like it. The Giants know Pierre-Paul has had inconsistent productivity the last three years, as well as back surgery and shoulder issues.

“I think at the beginning of the season he wasn’t playing like he played at the end of the season,” said General Manager Jerry Reese on December 30. “The second half of the season, he came on really strong and played like we thought he should play. The guy has some ability to be a game changer. We didn’t see enough of that in the first half of the season.”

Towards the end of the 2014 season, Pierre-Paul’s comments to the press seemed to strongly suggest he will not be giving the Giants a hometown discount and that he is interested in testing the free agent waters.

“I don’t know (if I will be back with the Giants),” said Pierre-Paul in late December. “Everybody asks me that question and I really can’t answer that question truthfully. I don’t know what my future holds. Who knows if I am going to be in a Giant uniform, who knows where I am going to be in the offseason. Like I said, now, the numbers are there, I had a great season, and everybody sees it. There really is nothing else to say, just negotiations and it is coming.

“At the end of the day, it’s business, it’s business. Everyone knows that, even the fans know that, my family members know it, and I am going to make the best decision to better me and my family.

“I‘d love to be a Giant for the rest of my career, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t always fold like that. Look at Justin Tuck, look at Osi Umenyiora, look at Brandon Jacobs, it doesn’t matter. I think I am worth a lot of money.

“Like I said, it is going to be a business situation, it’s going to be about my family, and what I want to pursue,” replied Pierre-Paul. “At the end of the day, I’m here. Like I said earlier in the season, if I am a Giant, then I will be a Giant for my whole life. I don’t know what is going to happen.”

Articles on DE Jason Pierre-Paul:

Articles on Former New York Giants Co-Owner Ann Mara:

Article on RB Rashad Jennings: Rashad Jennings’ offseason training rundown by NFL.com

Article on the New York Giants Special Teams: Who was the Giants’ best special teams player in 2014? by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Jan 042015
 
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Articles on the 2014 New York Giants:

Article on the New York Giants 2014 Free Agent Class: NY Giants busts have new hope in 2015 by Ralph Vacchiano of The New York Daily News

Article on the New York Giants Upcoming Offseason: What the Giants need to do to regain form by Tom Rock of Newsday

Article on WR Odell Beckham: Along with spectacular grabs, NY Giants rookie Odell Beckham Jr. put passion on full display by Ebenezer Samuel of The New York Daily News

Article on TE Larry Donnell: Giants tight end Larry Donnell knows what he needs to work on this offseason by Nick Powell for NJ.com

Article on DE Jason Pierre-Paul: Should the Giants use the franchise tag on defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul? by Nick Powell for NJ.com

Article on LB Jon Beason: Jon Beason’s contract and whether it makes sense for Giants to bring him back by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

Article on CB Bennett Jackson: Giants draft pick Bennett Jackson on the mend from microfracture surgery by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com

WR Odell Beckham Video Highlights: Video highlights from WR Odell Beckham’s rookie season are available at Giants.com.