John Mara Talks About Giants Offseason: New York Giants President/CEO John Mara spoke to the press on Thursday at a ribbon cutting ceremony in Manhattan. Mara was mainly asked about the team’s free agent activity.
“There were obviously some star players out there but for the most part I thought it was a mediocre free-agent class and I think a lot of guys got paid more money than maybe they would have in other years because there was a lot of cap room out there,” said Mara. “I think the guys who we got will help us, but we still have a long way to go.”
Thus far, the Giants have signed running back Shane Vereen and linebacker Jonathan Casillas from the Patriots, wide receiver/returner Dwayne Harris from the Cowboys, linebacker T.J. Thomas from the Jaguars, defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis from the Jets, and offensive tackle Marshall Newhouse from the Bengals. The team has also re-signed running back Chris Ogbonnaya, fullback Henry Hynoski, tight end Daniel Fells, guard John Jerry, linebacker Mark Herzlich, and cornerback Chykie Brown.
“We added some depth, which I thought we needed,” said Mara. “There weren’t any big, splashy signings but I thought we helped ourselves. We’ve still got some holes to fill, but so far, so good with what we’ve done.
“You can’t (spend a lot in free agency) every year and, quite frankly, when you do stuff like that more often than not it doesn’t work out. This game still comes down to drafting well, re-signing your own guys and then filling in in free agency. Every once in a while you might have a year where you have to spend big but, in my opinion and in our opinion, this was not the year to do that.”
Mara said the Giants did aggressively pursue the top safety on the market, Devin McCourty, who re-signed with the Patriots. He also said they had some interest in defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh but he was too expensive.
“I’m not completely comfortable yet because we were 6-10, and you can’t be completely comfortable when you’re coming off 6-10,” Mara said. “I think I said after the season, if we can just get half of the guys back healthy and have a good draft, I think we’ll have a very competitive team. We need to draft like we’ve done the last two years, and get some guys that are really gonna help us, and then we need to keep some guys healthy too. We haven’t been able to do that for a couple of years.”
Mara said that a contract extension for quarterback Eli Manning, who has one year left on his current deal, is not in the works but “obviously something will be done at some point.” He noted Manning’s high cap number, which is almost $20 million.
Mara was also asked about the health status of wide receiver Victor Cruz, who tore the patella tendon in his right knee in October 2014.
“So far, so good, according to Victor and according to our medical people,” said Mara. “He’s working really hard and he has a lot of pride and we expect him back at 100 percent.”
Mara was asked if the team might consider drafting a wide receiver in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft. “I certainly don’t think that’s our primary need,” Mara responded. But is also said he would not be against it if the value was there.
Mara was asked about safety Antrel Rolle, who signed with Chicago Bears. Mara said that Rolle was one of “personal favorites.” He also said, “I told him he will always be a Giant.” Mara said he also hopes that current unrestricted free agent defensive end Osi Umenyiora, who played with the Giants from 2003-12, will retire as a Giant some day.
Notes and Quotes: According to NJ.com, unrestricted free agent defensive end George Selvie will meet with the Giants on Friday instead of Thursday as previously reported due to a flight delay. Selvie is also receiving interest from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Tight end Daniel Fells on returning to the Giants: “I’m excited. There’s no place I’d rather be. It’s a world-class organization with a great coaching staff. And I believe in the guys in that locker room. Coming back here was always in the forefront of my mind.”