Over the next few weeks, we here at Sportsmasher.com are going to preview the upcoming off season for each NFL team. Why not start it off at the top, with the World Champion New York Giants?
Key Free Agents: WR – Mario Manningham, RT – Kareem McKenzie, CB – Terrell Thomas, CB – Aaron Ross, LB – Jonathan Goff, DE – Dave Tollefson, P – Steve Weatherford, LB – Chase Blackburn, S – Deon Grant, DT – Rocky Bernard.
Major Offseason Storylines:
Will Osi Umenyiora and Brandon Jacobs be back? Two of the Giants bigger names, Jacobs and Osi are each under contract for one more year, however both have publicly complained about their contracts over recent years, and both could be asked to rework their contracts. Umenyiora will no longer start for the Giants, Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck have the starting defensive end positions locked up, however he is still one of the best situational pass rushers in the NFL (12.5 sacks in 13 games). Osi clearly wants an extension, but he will make $3.975 million this year, and surprisingly seems open to playing his contract out since the Super Bowl win. Jacobs is due a lot of money this coming year ($500k roster bonus, $4.4 million in salary). His production was down (152 carries, 571 yards, 7 TDs) but he is still one of the vocal and emotional leaders in the Giants locker room. He will be asked to take a pay cut, but if he refuses, expect him to be released before the bonus kicks in.
Can the Giants keep Mario Manningham? After an injury plagued and relatively quiet regular season (39 catches, 523 yards, 4 TDs) in which he was overshadowed by Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, Manningham exploded in the playoffs (13 catches, 189 yards, 3 TDs), and made the iconic catch for the Giants in their Super Bowl win over the Patriots. Was it his last for the Giants? The free agent crop of wide receivers is deep, but another team may try to overpay Manningham, due to his youth (just 25) and his ability to stretch the field. I have already heard the Redskins, Patriots, Vikings, 49ers and Chargers have some interest in Manningham, so it will be interesting to see if he returns to the champs or bolts for a bigger payday.
Who will play Tight End? During the Super Bowl, the top two tight ends on the Giants depth chart (Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum) each tore an ACL and will not be ready to start the 2012 season. The Giants will bring back restricted free agent Bear Pascoe, however he’s a reserve who is used as more of a blocker, and the draft class is very weak at tight end (I currently think there are zero first round prospects ranked). The good news for the Giants is there is a deep crop of free agent tight ends, starting with Green Bay’ Jermichael Finley and the Redskins’ Fred Davis, though both of them should remain with their current teams. I expect the Giants to make a run at a player or two from the following group in free agency: John Carlson (Seahawks), Joel Dreessen (Texans), Kellen Davis (Bears), Zach Potter (Jaguars), Visante Schaincoe (Vikings). I left off the smaller, H-Back type tight ends, because a tight end in the Giants system needs to block.
Other Questions: Wide Receiver Victor Cruz deserves a raise, but he’s under contract for two more years, will he get one? Will the Giants bring back longtime right tackle Kareem McKenzie, who is a free agent and one of the tougher players in the league, but is now 33 years old? Will the Giants bring back cornerback Terrell Thomas or linebacker Jonathan Goff, both former starters who are free agents and missed the 2012 season due to knee injuries? Will former first round pick, cornerback Aaron Ross, a disappointment who played great for the Giants down the stretch be retained? One has to assume that, unless Thomas takes a incentive laden one year deal coming off a knee injury, either he or Ross will be let go, as 2011 first round pick Prince Amukamara’s opportunities increase. How will highly touted 2011 second round pick, defensive tackle Marvin Austin, fit into the defensive line rotation after missing his rookie season with a torn pectoral muscle?