Big Blue has needs, but free-agent crop not very enticing
This year's free agency period is only hours away and armchair quarterbacks all over the country are pointing to the Giants and saying two things: linebacker and wide receiver.
I agree, but who in this year's free-agent class can fill those needs for the best team in the NFC?
Not many, and that is why general manager Jerry Reese is intimating that the Giants may just try their luck in the upcoming draft rather than overpay for mediocre players.
Here is how things look like right now in East Rutherford.
Plaxico Burress has an appearance in front of a New York judge on March 31.
Enough time has lapsed for the legal system and the public to absorb Burress' ridiculous behavior. Whether that equates to leniency, remains to be seen.
Regardless of the outcome, Burress will probably be lost for 2009, because New York City's Mayor Mike Bloomberg has called for jail time and Roger Goodell would suspend Burress should he be set free.
The Giants also are cutting ties with 13 year veteran Amani Toomer.
That leaves the starters as Domenik Hixon and Steve Smith. That's not good enough to cut it, especially since Eli Manning is so erratic. They have recent draftees Mario Manningham and Sinorice Moss, but neither has shown the ability to step up. They do also have an interesting project in 6'6'' Micah Rucker, but he's a longshot at best.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh is another option, but his price will be somewhere about $9-10 million per season. That is also not a bargain. You can forget the rest of the field. They are no better than what the Giants already have.
There are plenty of WRs in this draft, but look for the Giants to go with size and ability rather than speed. They already have several short receivers that can run.
They need a substitute for Plaxico. Darius Heywood-Bey of Maryland was on their list before his monster combine. Now, he'll be gone before the Giants pick at No. 26.
Reese has nine draft picks—including two second rounders—and he may use them in several ways. He could trade up and grab Heywood-Bey or just wait his turn and take who's left. Either way, he'll get the player he wants.
The past several years, the Giants targeted their secondary and the defensive line. Last season, they drafted two LBs, Jonathan Goff of Vanderbilt and Bryan Kehl of BYU. They still want to give them an opportunity to break into the lineup.
That being said, they will take a quick look at Bart Scott (and some others) in free agency, but he is probably going to be costly.
Depending on how the WR situation works out, Reese will be looking at the group of talented LBs in the draft with one of his top three choices. Rumors have it that the club likes the USC guys, Brian Cushing and Ray Maualuga.
Don't fret. This team will be just fine. For the moment, they will ponder whether to resign running back Derrick Ward. After that, they will get the WR they want and they will get that LB as well. Reese will see to that.