Giant Holes: New York's Defense Loses Three Starters to Free Agency

Dan SiegelSenior Analyst IMarch 2, 2008

The magnificent performance by the Giants’ defense in the Super Bowl may have won them the Lombardi Trophy, but it also may have cost Big Blue the chance to repeat.

Most of the big signings in this NFL offseason have been on the defensive side of the ball, and three teams have gone straight to ripest fruit of the bunch, that of the Super Bowl champion New York Giants.

Linebacker Kawika Mitchell barely finished combing his hair after the Giants’ victory parade and was already headed upstate to Buffalo.

Safety Gibril Wilson looked like he was going to trade in his meatball hero for a cheese-steak hoagie when along came ol’ money bags himself, Al Davis, to give Wilson over six million reasons to set up residence in Oakland.

Then, Tuna and the Dolphins were able to net linebacker Reggie Torbor and seal him up to a four-year deal.

Well, those three guys can worry about losing for the next three years while Giants’ GM Jerry Reese will try to piece together a new “D” for 2008.

Mathias Kiwanuka likely will retake his starting linebacker job that Torbor filled when Kiwi became bruised up during the season. 

However, many observers could see that Kiwanuka was overmatched at times against the pass and served the team better to be back on the line in those situations. 

With Michael Strahan’s career status up in the air, Kiwanuka may find himself back in the mix with Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck at DE.  And, with Mitchell off to whiter pastures, Reese better find two guys ready to flank Antonio Pierce for the Giants’ mid-level battalion.

Wilson was one of the stronger players in the Giants’ secondary over the last handful of seasons, which was consistently identified as the weak link of the defense. 

The Giants may fill that void at safety with another Wilson, Eugene Wilson of the New England Patriots, but they will have to compete with the Buccaneers, Jaguars, and Jets (who just lost their safety Erik Coleman to Atlanta) for his services.

Further impetus to find suitable replacements is provided by the fact that the Eagles have inked Asante Samuel and Chris Clemens to bolster their defensive unit.

Perhaps all-pro TE Jeremy Shockey could serve as trade bait to bring back a defense starter or a higher draft pick, but the G-men still seem reluctant to move him.

Unfortunately, in the business of pro sports, money, not championships, talks. 

In addition to coping with the loss of three defensive starters, the Giants will have to deal with Umenyiora, WR Plaxico Burress, and T Davud Diehl all seeking pay raises.

A repeat would be nice, fellas.