New York Giants: 6 Veterans the G-Men Shouldn't Bring Back
They say youth is indispensable in professional football, yet age still seems to come before beauty.
The Giants delicately balanced a veteran presence with young, raw athleticism to bring home the hardware in 2012. And while Big Blue received huge contributions from youngsters like Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Jason Pierre-Paul, their maturity and experience are what helped propel their implausible Super Bowl run.
Ultimately, New York's future shines bright because of their promising youth, but if the team cannot transition and find a way to smoothly phase out aging stars, the Giants will encounter trouble both on the gridiron and in the payroll.
Here's a look at a handful of veterans that the G-Men should cut ties with sooner rather than later.
Kevin Boothe, OG
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At times this year, Kevin Boothe displayed invaluable versatility and consistency. Other times, however, he was a bit of a liability along the offensive line.
It's no secret that the Giants had trouble rushing the ball this past season, and if Ahmad Bradshaw and the rest of New York's 'backs wish to see considerable changes come September, a few linemen need to be replaced.
Boothe is one of them.
The sixth-year pro experienced salient struggles in run blocking, as the Giants averaged just 3.94 yards per attempt rushing behind guards. Were it not for spectacular play by Chris Snee on the other end, this mark would be much lower.
With a strong upcoming draft class of guards, look for Kevin Boothe's Big Apple departure to come soon.
Rocky Bernard, DT
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After restructuring Bernard's contract last summer, all signs point to his departure in the next season or two.
Bernard has recorded just three sacks in three years since donning Giants blue. His locker-room leadership has been crucial to the development of Chris Canty and Linval Joseph, but the 10-year veteran has little left in the tank to make a palpable difference on the field.
At age 32, with a decade of physicality under his belt, Bernard's exit will open room for more agile, promising linemen.
Stacy Andrews, OG
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After sustaining a season-ending injury in early December, Andrews all but ended his career as a Giant as well.
At age 31, the injury-plagued lineman's contract expires this offseason, and with the Giants' dwindling cap room, Jerry Reese will likely let the veteran leave without any interference.
Big Blue desperately needs a younger, more athletic protection unit, and Andrews, one of the more disappointing signings in the franchise's recent history, is clearly not part of any long-term plan.
Kareem McKenzie, OT
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Who knows where Eli Manning's career would be without the durability and consistent success of tackle Kareem McKenzie?
The 11-year pro has elicited acclaim from the Big Apple faithful for years now, yet in 2011-12, McKenzie reluctantly experienced a free-fall in his production. His erratic play in the NFC Championship nearly cost the Giants a trip to Indianapolis, and he was second on the team in sacks allowed, with 5.5.
Manning's 6.1 percent sack rate in the NFL playoffs is a red flag difficult for the Giants to ignore, and although McKenzie has been an efficacious member of this unit for years now, his roster spot should soon open up for a younger tackle with more upside.
Deon Grant, SS
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Deon Grant, despite 12 years of NFL wear and tear behind him, enjoyed a fantastic season in an otherwise porous New York secondary.
While the 32-year-old notched only one interception this season, his .85 win probability highlights just how integral he was to the NFL champions' success. For perspective, perennial Pro Bowler Antrel Rolle recorded a .92 win probability, while starting safety Kenny Phillips put up a mere .61.
Yet Grant is undoubtedly aging, and with so much youth in New York's secondary, his niche is rapidly shrinking. A free agent this season, Grant shouldn't be around for more than another year or so.
Brandon Jacobs, RB
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New York's bruising back has had trouble holding back, whether that be with the press or with opposing defenses.
Though he's had some highly-publicized run-ins with the media, Jacobs has still developed a reputation around the league for his fearless style of play. The seven-year pro has averaged at least five yards per carry in three of the last five seasons, and his nose for the end-zone has fostered the growth of New York's now-dominant offense.
But heading into a contract year, Jacobs will likely demand a prime-time deal, something that the Giants simply cannot afford in 2012. The younger, less rambunctious Ahmad Bradshaw is the clear-cut future of New York's backfield, and Jacobs' disappointing 2011-12 campaign makes him a candidate for removal this winter.
A fan favorite for his boisterous attitude and play, Jacobs' dismissal will likely draw criticism. But in an effort to create a younger, more stable, affordable roster, it's the sensible thing for Jerry Reese and company to do.