The New York Giants did some house cleaning this week, when they released longtime key contributors running back Ahamd Bradshaw, defensive tackle Chris Canty and linebacker Michael Boley. Fans are obviously upset about these cuts, as all three players were fan favorites who left a lot on the field for the Giants during their success in the Eli Manning/Tom Coughlin era. As a Giants fan, I am here to calm Giants nation down, and let them know that these cuts were necessary. Releasing these three players will save the Giants (who were over the salary cap before the moves) $13.75 million dollars in salary cap space. Here are a few quick hit thoughts on the release of each player:
Ahmad Bradshaw, Running Back, Age 26 (will be 27 in March): The starting running back and a focal point of the offense in both of the Giants recent Super Bowl wins, Bradshaw is sixth on the franchise’s All-Time rushing list with 4,232 yards and 32 touchdowns, while also catching 132 passes for 1,087 yards and 3 touchdowns. His toughness was what Giants football is all about, however frequent foot and ankle injuries have forced him to miss constant practice time and have several offseason surgeries, though he would often fight through pain to play on game day. There are rumblings that the Giants would be open to bringing Bradshaw back at a reduced rate, but he will look elsewhere for similar money, however injuries will be a major concern on the open market.
Replacement: The Giants will likely start their impressive 2012 first round draft pick, the explosive David Wilson, at tailback and bring back veteran Andre Brown. Look for them to add another back at some point of the 2013 NFL Draft, and prepare to hear me screaming that they draft Michigan State big back LeVeon Bell in the coming months, to bring some “Thunder” back to the offense.
Chris Canty, Defensive Tackle, Age 30: A warrior on the defensive line, Canty was cut because of his advancing age, knee issues and large contract (was set to make close to $7 million this year including his workout bonus). He was a member of the second Super Bowl team, and was a standout on and off the field for the Giants, but based on his contract it was time for him to go. He spent the first half of the 2012 season on the PUP list as he recovered from offseason knee surgery and missed the season finale with a sprained MCL. I hear that Canty’s release surprised several teams, especially those that run a 3-4 defensive alignment, because in the 3-4 he was once an excellent end for the Dallas Cowboys and he won’t last long as a free agent.
Replacement: Linval Joseph had an excellent 2012 season and will be one starter at defensive tackle for the Giants, while the second spot will be a competition between youngsters Marvin Austin, Markus Kuhn and veteran Rocky Bernard as of now, but I would not be surprised if a veteran is brought in to join this competition. The 2013 NFL Draft is also very deep at defensive tackle, so this will be a position to keep an eye on in April.
Michael Boley, Linebacker, Age 30: Boley was an excellent linebacker for the New York Giants over the past four seasons, and he was a key contributor to the Super Bowl Championship defense in 2012. He’s a strong cover linebacker, who always excelled in pass coverage, but could also hold up against the run. He had three interceptions for Big blue this season, one in each of the Giants first three games, and had 84 tackles. He will garner interest on the open market, because he is a smart linebacker, who will be valuable to teams on passing downs.
Replacement: The Giants will probably use athletic young linebacker Jacquain Williams to replace Boley, but players like Keith Rivers or Spencer Paysinger could also figure into the mix.
All three players will be missed, but the fact of the matter is that the Giants saved $13.75 million dollars by releasing these players, which got them under the salary cap. These moves have cleared the way for the Giants to attempt to sign unrestricted free agent left tackle Will Beatty and make a qualifying offer to restricted free agent wide receiver Victor Cruz. Remember that the NFL is a business, and Jerry Reese knows what he is doing, the Giants will be just fine without Bradshaw, Canty and Boley.