New York Giants: 5 Players That Need Long-Term Contracts
"It's not about the money," nearly every professional athlete has listlessly muttered at one point in his or her career.
It always is.
To a degree, lucrative contracts and financial incentives dictate the fates of players everywhere. And in today's evolving media market, can you blame them?
Playing for the New York Giants certainly has its perks, but for many of the team's current stars, their future in the Big Apple will be contingent on big-time contract extensions.
Giants fans saw what happened when Osi Umenyiora's contract talks were dragged out, and it was far from pretty. Here's a handful of G-Men who should get contract extensions sooner rather than later.
Osi Umenyiora, DE
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The most obvious player on this list, adroit defensive end Osi Umenyiora needs a long-term deal at some point. Plain and simple.
Umenyiora has been involved in nasty contract disputes for a few offseasons now, with the media becoming a battleground for trade talk and marred public relations. The saga needs to end, and the Giants need to secure Umenyiora's prime talents.
Osi seems satisfied with his restructured 2012 deal, but his future beyond this year is uncertain with a voidable 2013 option. His statistics speak for themselves: he's averaged 9.9 sacks and 4.3 forced fumbles per year as a starter.
Lawrence Tynes, K
The Giants' special teams units of the early 2000s were marked by woeful inconsistency and a penchant for struggles in the clutch.
Thanks to two-time Super Bowl champion Lawrence Tynes, those days are long gone.
Tynes has been fantastic as the Giants' placekicker, and is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. He's booted multiple game-winning field goals in NFC Championship games and made three kicks of 50-plus yards in 2011.
Kenny Phillips, SS
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Naturally, it will be tough to dish out so many extensions and stay cap-friendly, but Jerry Reese and company should make Kenny Phillips a priority.
Phillips also becomes a free agent after this season, and has played a pivotal role in the Giants' secondary for years. The former first-round pick notched four interceptions and a respectable .80 win probability last season.
A perfect fit in New York's system, keeping Phillips around will be key.
Chase Blackburn, MLB
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In a sports city infested with unsung heroes, Blackburn shines bright.
After spending the first half of the 2011 season at home, Blackburn assumed starting responsibilities and wound up recording a huge interception in Super Bowl XLVI. He's been a valued asset for years and allows linebacking flexibility for Big Blue.
Logistically, extending Blackburn, who also becomes a free agent in 2013, shouldn't be too tough. He may command a bit more than the $825,000 he'll earn this year, but he seems to be worth his pay.
Victor Cruz, WR
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Big Blue is truly blessed to see Victor Cruz, their star wideout and the NFL's most underpaid player, adamantly reject the idea of a holdout this spring.
Cruz's production is worth millions, but he's still earning a base salary of just $490,000 in 2012.
His 3.03 win probability in 2011 tops Hakeem Nicks, Larry Fitzgerald, Greg Jennings and nearly every other star receiver. He deserves a contract extension, and the Giants are certainly ready to invest.
The problem will lie in balancing so many needed extensions next offseason. But the Reesian empire has certainly made something from nothing before, and who's to say it won't find a way to keep everyone happy in 2013?