The New York Giants won the fourth Super Bowl in franchise history Sunday night, beating the New England Patriots by a score of 21-17 behind the fourth quarter brilliance of Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning in the building that his older brother Peyton Manning helped create in Indianapolis.
Now that the Giants have stamped their name on history for the second time in five years, let's take a look at how New York can help increase their chances of repeating as Super Bowl champions in 2013 this offseason.
The start of the Giants' offseason will revolve around the many key free agents they currently have to either re-sign or let walk. Here's a list of the biggest names:
DT Rocky Bernard: The Giants treasure depth on the defensive line as much as any team in football. Bernard was a part of that depth. Is there enough still in place to let Bernard walk?
MLB Chase Blackburn: Blackburn was an unlikely hero for the Giants down the stretch, and his interception of Brady in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl was a huge play. Did he earn himself a starting job in 2012?
S Deon Grant: No team used a three-safety package as often as the Giants, and Grant ended up playing over 1,000 snaps despite being the team's third option at the position. New York should want him back.
WR Mario Manningham: The Super Bowl hero might have made himself some money with his clutch catch along the sidelines during the fourth quarter. Is he out of the Giants' price range now?
RT Kareem McKenzie: If there was a weak point on the offensive line, it might have been McKenzie at right tackle. During the Super Bowl, he was consistently getting beat by Rob Ninkovich. Could a draft pick be a potential replacement?
TE Bear Pascoe: Jake Ballard is the starter in New York but Pascoe played his fair share of snaps. With Travis Beckum tearing his ACL early in the Super Bowl, the Giants might need Pascoe back.
CB Aaron Ross: Corey Webster is the Giants' lockdown corner but Ross will step up and make a tackle in the run game like Webster can't. However, the Giants drafted Prince Amukamara in the first round last April, which may make Ross expendable.
DE Dave Tollefson: Like Bernard, Tollefson is a part of the Giants defensive line rotation. He played on almost 600 snaps but struggled both against the run and pass.
P Steve Weatherford: In the postseason, Weatherford established himself as a special teams weapon. His punt in the first quarter of the Super Bowl helped set up Tom Brady's throw-away safety. The Giants need him back.
The draft needs for the Giants this April are rather straight forward. At some point, New York has to find both a long-term option at offensive tackle and an impact linebacker.
Despite picking at No. 32—where every team wants to be drafting in April—the Giants can cross both of those needs early.
Mike Adams (Ohio State) and Zebrie Sanders (Florida State) could be early round options at offensive tackle, and there are plenty of mock drafts that have the Giants taking Dont'a Hightower (Alabama) to fill the linebacker hole. Other linebackers include Vontaze Burfict (Arizona State), Zach Brown (UNC), and Nigel Bradham (Florida State).
Looking deeper into the draft, it's likely that the Giants continue to build depth on the defensive line. It's been there M.O. for years no matter what kind of players they possess at the top of the depth chart. Any secondary in this era of passing football can use quality players, too.
Overall, if the Giants can fill needs at offensive tackle and linebacker, while still providing quality depth on the defensive line and secondary, New York will be in solid shape to defend the Lombardi Trophy in 2012-13.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!