Offseason Analysis: New York Giants

Feb 17, 2009

My good pal and Giant fanatic Joe Z. was kind enough to analyze the offseason plans for the New York Giants.

Most wondered at the time of the Plaxico Burress shooting whether or not the New York Giants would be able to focus and block out the immense distraction that the situation provided.  In hindsight, the immense media scrutiny paled in comparison to actual loss of Burress on the field.   Not only did Eli Manning lose his top target, but defenses were able to play an extra defender up in the box to target to stop the run game.   With Burress’s future being cloudy at best, coming up with a way to ease the pressure on the run game, as well as allow Steve Smith and Domenick Hixon to be secondary receivers should be the Giants primary offseason goal.   

The first person to potentially fill the gap is Burress himself.  While its uncertain whether or not he’ll face jail time or how long a potential suspension would be, the Giants have publicly stated that they have not yet closed the door on him.  While he has been a distraction in the past, many teammates have said that they would welcome him back.  This would not cost anything additional other than already reserved cap space, and might be the easiest option for the Giants going forward.  This was assuming that Burress would come back to the Giants on his hands and knees begging forgiveness, which given how he let his teammates down would have seemed to be the logical emotion.  However, a potential roadblock popped up in the form of Drew Rosenhaus and how he sent out a league wide email stating Plaxico was one of his clients desiring a trade.   If clarity comes with his legal situation and its certain that he’ll be playing in Week 1, I still can’t see a team being willing to give the Giants enough that they’d want to give him up.  

If the Giants determine that they have to move on, the only rumored names that could truly represent an upgrade for the Giants are Anquan Boldin and TJ Houshmanzadeh; and neither will be easy to acquire.  All rumors of Boldin’s availability have come out of Boldin’s camp, not from Arizona.  As much as Boldin wants out, he is signed at a bargain price for Arizona, and it would take a bounty to acquire him.  Given his production and bargain cap number, Arizona might not decide to trade Boldin until after the Giants need to make a decision on their offseason intentions.

The free agent market only offers one receiver that could potentially provide number one receiver production.  TJ Houshmanzadeh is the anti-Burress in terms of attitude and distractions, but even if he were interested in leaving, he seems to be a candidate to be franchised by Cincinnati since they are under the cap and probably won’t be able to attract many marquee free agents until they start winning.

Its very rare to draft a receiver and receive number one production.  It will be even rarer to get that receiver at the back end of the first round after Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin are long gone.

Before they resolve the number one receiver situation, its likely that the Giants will have locked up the services of Brandon Jacobs to a long term deal.  Last week, they franchised Jacobs, a move so rare for the Giants that you have to look all the way back to Jumbo Elliot to find the last time they did that.  The Giants want Jacobs back, and Jacobs wants to be back, so it would be surprising if they can’t find the middle ground on a long term deal.  Given that, it likely means that Derrick Ward will move on to another destination.  While the Giants loved having Ward, someone will likely offer a starting spot and more dollars than the Giants can, given that they have in house candidates to replace him.  Most fans would logically think Ahmad Bradshaw will be the guy, but reports are that the Giants are very high on Danny Ware, so an interesting battle for that lead backup job could develop in training camp.

The Giants also appear to be close to locking up Eli Manning to a long term deal.  The structuring of his bonus will be a key factor in whether or not they end up with the ability to pursue any free agents beyond Brandon Jacobs.  Giants fans have watched Eli go through some significant bumps in the road, and he’ll never be as good as his brother, but Eli has proven to be a top ten quarterback and many teams would kill to have the stability at the Quarterback position that Eli provides the Giants.  

The offensive line received praise throughout the season and looks to return in tact next season.  Depending on how the Giants internally evaluate the long term future of young linemen such as Kevin Boothe, Guy Whimper, and Adam Koets will determine whether the team pursues a linemen or two to develop and take over eventually for Shaun O’ Hara, Rich Seubert, or Kareem McKenzie as they each now have eight plus years in the league.  

Defensively, the Giants will receive a huge upgrade when Osi Umenyiora returns to his place in the lineup.  While Mathias Kiwanuka did a nice job moving back to replace Umenyiora, the dropoff was noticeable.  The defensive stats don’t show any true problems, but at no time was the pass rush anywhere near the level that it had been when Strahan, Tuck, and Umenyiora were harassing Quarterbacks.  Fred Robbins had a Pro Bowl quality year, but getting Osi back will be wonderous for this team. 

The secondary also will return in tact minus James Butler.  2008 1st round pick Kenny Phillips proved to be ready to replace Butler going forward.  Corey Webster in his fifth year will be elder statesmen of the starting secondary, so there is nowhere to go but up for that unit.   Any drafting to the defensive line or secondary will be done solely because the person picked provided too much value to pass up at the position they were selected. 

The Giants do have major concerns at linebacker.  They spent the entire year with below average starters on the outside, and by the end of the year Antonio Pierce had become a liability in the middle.  The Giants face a difficult decision with Pierce , as he is clearly the Quarterback of the defense and probably can’t be replaced intelligence wise in one year.  However, the sight of Brian Westbrook, DeAngelo Williams, and Adrian Peterson flying past Pierce has to haunt every Giant fan as they reminisce back to 2008.  Luckily, the draft and free agent class are deep at linebacker, so the Giants should have opportunities to upgrade.  Throw in the fact that Kiwanuka could conceivably return back to the linebacking corps and the team should have no trouble getting the unit back up to par.  One angle to watch would be whether the Giants are able to clear the cap space after the Jacobs and Manning signings to pursue Karlos Dansby out of Arizona.  Ohio State’s James Laurinaitis or USC’s Clay Matthews could be targets for the team with their first round pick.  

Knowing that Wide Receiver and Linebacker are the two areas of need for the Giants, its important to note that they have extra 2nd and 5th round picks from the Jeremy Shockey trade.  This depth could allow the Giants to trade up in the draft, or to potentially package some picks to a cap starved team to help fill needs.  

Overall, General Manager Jerry Reese fit a home run with his first draft in 2007.  However, he has not yet acquired a marquee player via free agency nor trade in his tenure, and this is the offseason where his creativity to do so is needed and up for judgment.”

KFFL Free Agent Tracker:

Pos Player Name FA Status Previous Team Current Team
QB David Carr Re-signed New York Giants New York Giants
QB Andre’ Woodson Re-signed New York Giants New York Giants
QB Anthony Wright UFA New York Giants Free Agent
RB Reuben Droughns UFA (Cut) New York Giants Free Agent
RB Brandon Jacobs Franchised New York Giants Free Agent
RB Derrick Ward UFA New York Giants Free Agent
RB Danny Ware RFA New York Giants Free Agent
WR Amani Toomer UFA New York Giants Free Agent
TE Martrez Milner Re-signed New York Giants New York Giants
PK John Carney UFA New York Giants Free Agent
C Grey Ruegamer UFA New York Giants Free Agent
DL Jerome McDougle UFA New York Giants Free Agent
DL Michael Strahan UFA New York Giants Free Agent
DL Renaldo Wynn UFA New York Giants Free Agent
CB Kevin Dockery RFA New York Giants Free Agent
CB Sam Madison UFA (Cut) New York Giants Free Agent
CB R.W. McQuarters UFA New York Giants Free Agent
SS Sammy Knight UFA (Cut) New York Giants Free Agent
FS James Butler UFA New York Giants Free Agent

. .

2 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Joe Zwierzynski
    February 17th, 2009 at 2:26 pm #

    Just to update some news today. The Cardinals franchised Karlos Dansby, so given the price tag in $ and in two first round picks, its safe to say that he’s not an option going forward. However, the Bengals have decided to franchise kicker Shayne Graham, thus meaning that TJ Houshmanzadeh will hit the open market. If I’m the Giants, I make him priority number one for this offseason.

  2. LestersLegends
    February 17th, 2009 at 9:52 pm #

    Thanks for the update Joe Z. The good thing about Housh, as you mentioned, is he’s not a Wide Re-Diva like so many of them.

Leave a Comment

Partner of USA TODAY Sports Digital Properties