There may be eight more weeks of the regular season and an entire month of postseason play left to go in 2012, but it’s never too soon to start looking toward the future. Salary cap-wise, the New York Giants will have plenty of tough decisions to make once the 2012 season comes to a close.
The Giants have 21 players on the current roster who are scheduled to become free agents in 2013. In the coming months, New York will have to figure out which players are worth bringing back and which should be sent packing. The Giants may also ask some players to take pay cuts, as restructuring the contracts of more established players should provide wiggle room to re-sign free agents.
This article will highlight the team’s free agents to keep, free agents to boot and veterans with restructure-able contracts.
Will Beatty: When the former UConn Husky was selected in the second round of the 2009 NFL draft (60 overall), the Giants expected him to be the left tackle of the future. His progression has been slow, partially due to injuries, but he is proving his value, so far, in 2012. It’s just a bit too soon to give up on Beatty.
Martellus Bennett: The Giants signed the former Cowboy to a one-year contract in the offseason, and the acquisition of the 6’7” tight end has really paid off. The Giants should bring Bennett back, as he seems to have shed his ego and is ready to be a team player. He will develop into a go-to target for Eli Manning.
Kevin Boothe: After serving a thankless role as the team’s utilitarian backup, Boothe was promoted to the starting left guard position in 2012. He was on the squad for both Super Bowl victories; his experience and versatility should earn him a new contract with the Giants in 2013.
Stevie Brown: Had Tyler Sash not been suspended for the first four weeks of the season, Brown may not even have a roster spot today. He has taken advantage of his opportunity, however, and his nose for the ball has helped him become one of the defense's biggest playmakers. Brown provides great value at the safety position.
David Carr: Manning is still riding the longest active consecutive starts streak, but that doesn’t mean the team shouldn’t have a reliable backup just in case the unimaginable happens. Carr knows the offense and probably won’t get any starting offers during free agency. It only makes sense to retain him as a backup QB.
Victor Cruz: If all goes according to plan, Cruz won’t even hit free agency. The team is already working on getting him a new contract, as re-signing one of the league’s biggest playmakers is a no-brainer for the Giants.
Bear Pascoe: The big tight end is currently on a one-year deal, and he deserves another term with the team. He may not be a tremendous pass-catcher, but his run-blocking, durability and versatility make him a valuable member of the Giants’ offense.
Keith Rivers: The Giants traded the Cincinnati Bengals a fifth-round pick for Rivers in the offseason, and so far, they haven’t quite gotten their money’s worth. The athletic linebacker has a lot of untapped potential, though. The Giants could benefit from Rivers’ capabilities if he is ever able to stay healthy. I say the Giants take another shot on him.
Lawrence Tynes: The Scottish-born kicker has made next year's decision easy for the Giants to make. Tynes is on pace to break most of the team’s single-season kicking and scoring records.
Great kickers are hard to come by, and Tynes has proven that he can get the job done on the game’s biggest stages. He made an overtime, game-winning kick in both the 2007 and 2011 NFC Championship Games.
Ramses Barden: Drafted as an experimental project out of Cal Poly in 2009, the 6’6” receiver may have overstayed his welcome in New York. He had an impressive game against the Carolina Panthers in Week 3, but one good game in four seasons won’t be enough for the Giants to keep him around.
Travis Beckum: He was supposed to be a matchup nightmare, but Beckum’s production over the past four seasons has been the real nightmare. Now that Beckum has a torn ACL on his résumé, his future with the Giants is looking pretty bleak.
Rocky Bernard: The massive defensive tackle has served honorably for New York’s defensive front since 2009, but it might be time for Bernard and the Giants to part ways. Bernard will be 34 years old next season; it’s time for him to consider retirement after a solid 11-year career.
Chase Blackburn: The Giants tried to shake Blackburn two offseasons ago, but the determined linebacker found his way back onto the squad. He won the starting job heading into the 2012 season, but he won’t be as lucky next summer. With younger, more athletic prospects behind him, this should be Blackburn’s last season as a Giant.
Andre Brown: After spending years bouncing around from team to team, everyone now knows that Brown can be an effective NFL running back. New York will probably allow some team to make a move for him, as the Giants already have Ahmad Bradshaw and David Wilson cemented in the backfield.
Michael Coe: He may have blazing speed, but Coe has been nearly worthless in coverage this season. The cornerback may have better luck with another squad, as the Giants will likely cut their dead weight, allowing Coe to walk when he becomes a free agent.
Jim Cordle: The backup center is of little worth to the Giants; an undrafted free agent could easily fulfill his role next year. Cordle has never been called up to play a major part, making his chances of being re-signed that much slimmer.
Domenik Hixon: The hard-working receiver fought back from consecutive ACL tears to become the team’s third wideout this season. But with so many promising young options at receiver, it’s difficult to justify re-signing a veteran like Hixon. He has reliable hands, though, and should be able to continue his career with one of the league’s 31 other teams.
Kenny Phillips: The currently injured safety has been one of the Giants’ best defensive players since he was drafted in 2008, but the team will probably have trouble retaining him once he hits free agency.
Teams are well aware of Phillips' ability, and he should garner lucrative contract offers in 2013. If Phillips walks, it will be because New York can’t afford his price tag.
Adrian Tracy: The hybrid linebacker/defensive end never could find his niche in the Giants’ defense, as Tracy’s size, collegiate background and injury history have severely limited his production with in New York. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Giants took another defensive end in next year’s draft, and if that’s the case, Tracy will certainly be on his way out.
Justin Tryon: The lackluster cornerback is a strong contributor on the special teams coverage units, but that won’t be enough to save Tryon’s job with the Giants. New York can easily replace his production with any athletic, young player they have on the roster next season.
Osi Umenyiora: The often-disgruntled defensive end is in his 10th and (probably) final year with the Giants. The fans will miss him, but Umenyiora will be happy at last, chasing down big money during the 2013 offseason.
David Baas: So far, Baas has hardly developed into the $27.5 million center the Giants anticipated he would be when they signed him before the 2011 season. While he is certainly serviceable, Baas isn’t worth that much money. He is projected to make $4.25 million in 2013.
Ahmad Bradshaw: Whenever the Giants needed to make cap room in the past, running back Brandon Jacobs always seemed to be the man the team came to. With Jacobs out of the picture, Bradshaw is now New York’s slightly overpaid running back. He is projected to make $3.75 million in 2013.
Chris Canty: The former-Cowboy is the Giants’ best interior defensive lineman, but the $42 million tackle could afford to give up some of his salary. Canty is one of the team’s highest-paid players and is projected to make $6.25 million in 2013.
David Diehl: The veteran offensive lineman has quickly become one of the Giants’ least impressive players. He’s definitely the team’s most grossly overpaid player, and if he doesn’t accept a pay cut, New York could ask Diehl to take a walk. He is projected to make $4.1 million in 2013.
Eli Manning: The Giants franchise quarterback has always been a stand-up guy; he voluntarily restructured his contract last March to make more cap space. He probably won’t do it in back-to-back years, but the option is there if the Giants find themselves strapped for cash. Manning is projected to make $13 million in 2013.
Antrel Rolle: The former Cardinal has been the Giants’ most dependable player in the defensive backfield. If he’s willing to negotiate with New York’s front office, he could restructure his contract to make significant cap room. Rolle is projected to make $7 million in both 2013 and 2014.
Chris Snee: The once All-Pro right guard’s performance has steadily declined since 2008. Snee is often playing through injury and is no longer worth the $41.25 million contract that he signed in ’08. The team should look no further than the head coach’s son-in-law if it’s in search of cap space in 2013. Snee is projected to make $6.45 million in 2013.