|GM Jerry Reese speaks to media in 2011|
BGB Asst Editor
As the NFL goes these days, the next season starts as soon as the Super Bowl ends. The idea of an off-season for NFL teams ended years ago. Between dealing with the salary cap, releasing players, reworking contracts, signing free agents, the NFL-Combine and then the draft - the months of February, March and April are incredibly busy for all NFL Franchises.
And so it goes for the NY Giants – one full year removed from their second improbable Super Bowl victory over New England and only weeks after a disappointing season, missing the playoffs at 9-7, the Giants have a lot of work to do.
Their number one priority was getting under the salary cap as quickly as possible, which they accomplished with the releases of Chris Canty, Ahmad Bradshaw, Osi Umenyiora and Michael Boley.
Another top priority was securing up the offensive line. That has been somewhat accomplished as well with resigning starting left tackle Will Beatty.
However, this is just the beginning, and as of right now, there are more questions than answers out there for restless Giants fans – as their team is mired in what seems to be salary cap hell, with nothing but rumors, wish lists and innuendos dominating the headlines.
What everyone wants to know is what’s really next?
In the hopes of gaining some clarity and insight as to what the immediate future holds for the G-men, I recently connected with a trusted NY Giants Insider for a little Q&A. Although we have agreed to keep his identity anonymous, I will stake my reputation on his credibility. Keep in mind though; the New York Giants are one of the most tight-lipped organizations in all of sports.
So, sit back, enjoy the ride and pay close attention – not only will some of your questions be answered, you might learn just a little bit more about how the NY Giants organization works.
Also, at the time I conducted this interview, the Giants had not signed Will Beatty yet. For the record, this Giants Insider predicted the Giants would resign him – not franchise him, but sign him to a long term contract. He was right, so we are off to a good start.
Q&A with my Giants Insider:
Bradshaw, Canty, Boley and Osi are all gone; do you see the Giants bringing back any of these guys at a lower price?
One never wants to say never, but it would appear the Giants have moved on from Canty and Boley. Both are getting on in football years - Canty has a chronic knee, and it looks like the team wants to get a little more physical at LB.
At the same time, Osi is almost certain to follow the money and will likely get a better offer somewhere, higher than what the Giants likely would be willing to pay for a situational DE.
On the other hand, it is conceivable that the Giants could bring back Bradshaw at some point during the season if he hasn’t signed elsewhere and they needed help at RB. Number 44 was a warrior, but he just isn’t what he used to be physically.
Do you see any more cuts / releases on the horizon?
It’s hard to see David Diehl back at his cap figure. In fact, it’s hard to see Diehl back at all after the way he played in 2012. The Giants were reluctant to part with him until the situation with Beatty was resolved, and now it is.
Other than that the key guy looks to be Corey Webster, who just isn’t worth the whopping $7 million figure he’s due after a very disappointing season; in fact, that would be a tough salary to digest even for a perennial pro bowl CB. So, the Giants surely will be talking to him about a pay cut and if he refuses he could become a cap casualty – although, the Giants do appear to want to bring him back, if for no other reason than they are really thin at the position.
The delay in signing Victor Cruz to a long term contract is getting fans up in arms – but this is just the “business of football” is it not? How do you see this playing out? Do you think the Giants will franchise tag him?
It’s hard to tell at this point - Cruz clearly wants to be paid as a number one receiver as he should, however, the Giants see him more as number two in their offense behind Nicks, with some guys who could step into that role if Cruz left.
In the end, I think something gets done; Cruz is just too good a player to just let walk. However, the Giants aren’t going to break the bank for him.
I doubt the Giants tag Victor because in tagging someone the team has to absorb the salary immediately in their cap and the Giants just don't have the room right now. I still think they get something done long-term before March 12th, but again if his demands remain high, they may be willing to let him test the free agent waters and live with the pick they get in return if he does sign elsewhere.
What is the organization viewing as their top priorities to fix?
Our sources are telling us that the defense in general and the defensive front seven in particular seems to be pretty high on their to-do list.
Interestingly, there doesn’t appear much evidence that the Giants feel the same kind of urgency as do much of their fan base regarding the offensive line, especially now with Beatty being resigned. They are likely to bring in a relatively cheap veteran to compete with Brewer on the right side.
What is your projection for the Giants #1 pick and why? Will they stick with the standard, “best available” regardless of the position?
The Giants usually play the draft pretty close to the vest and don’t give out a lot of signals about what they’re thinking pre-draft. The simple answer is that it is still too early to try and project a particular player who the Giants will take with the 19th pick at this year’s draft. In fact, right now, it’s tough just trying to figure out which players might be on their short list.
One thing you can take to the bank, though, is that the Giants will stay true to their board and ultimately will draft a player, not a position on April 26th.
Know this, even when they go into a draft looking to address a particular position in the opening round, the Giants aren’t going to take a player just to fill the gap if he isn’t also a value pick at that point.
We’ve talked in the past, about how the Giants value different positions for the draft and others for free agency – namely impact positions are usually from the draft like: OT, WR, QB, Pass Rusher, CB. Do you think this is the path they will stay on this offseason?
I don’t think the basic philosophy is going to change. However, it’s not clear at this time whether there will necessarily be a particular good match between the players available at the 19th pick and what the Giants may be looking for.
With Beatty resigned, the Giants are likely to turn their attention to the other side of the ball. With, Osi gone and Tuck coming off a second straight sub-par regular season they will almost certainly be looking for another outside pass rusher. In fact, there could be as many four to five defensive-ends available in the 15-25 area. However, I am not sure the Giants are totally enamored with any of them.
Oregon’s Dion Jordan, BYU’s Ziggy Ansah, Sam Montgomery of LSU and Alex Okafor from Texas, for example, all have the kind of athleticism the Giants covet. But, Jordan isn’t very bulky for a 4-3 DE; Ansah is a tremendous athlete in space but has no clue how to get off blockers; there are real questions about Montgomery’s motor; and Okafor reminds some of a young Michael Strahan, but he isn‘t super quick or athletic and likely has a ceiling of 7-8 sacks a year.
There is a similar story at DT where there are another four to five guys with top 20 potential, but none has the kind of pass-rush skills that would make them a 3-down type in the Giants system.
On the other hand, it doesn’t look like there will be many, if any CBs worth the 19th pick.
It is very possible that when the Giants get on the clock on April 26th, the best players on their board will include guys like North Carolina OG Jonathan Cooper and Georgia LB Alec Ogletree, who don’t fit the prototype for a typical Giants first rounder, but may have too much value to pass on. As we like to say, stay tuned.
At the end of the season, GM Jerry Reese said in so many words, “We missed the playoffs by one game. We are not going to panic.” Most fans did not want to hear this, but this is typical of the Reese and the entire Giants organization isn’t it – a very methodical, cerebral and calm approach, especially when they just missed?
They say that winning a Super Bowl forgives a lot of sins –and the Giants aren’t going to panic one year removed from a Super Bowl title, but there has to be some soul searching going on in the organization.
Is this team a legitimate Super Bowl contender that needs a tweak or two in order to consistently win 11-12 games a year, and start getting some home playoff dates- but that has underachieved to some degree in the past two regular seasons? Or, is it a 9-7 team that got on a roll late last season when all their good players played to their potential?
My sense is that the organization believes it is much closer to the former than the latter (and so do I do for that matter) and should make the upcoming season rather key what the direction the team takes down the road.