Even with six games remaining in the 2012 regular season, it's never too early to discuss players the New York Giants should get rid of for the 2013 season.
Big Blue has 16 unrestricted and five restricted free agents on their roster for next season so the stage is set for this team to look vastly different in 2013. Outside of free agency, more turnover could occur if the Giants decide to part ways with some high priced, under-performing veterans.
Here are four players that should absolutely not be on the Giants next year along with several others that just missed the cut.
Umenyiora has spent each of his 10 NFL seasons with the Giants and was an integral part of both Super Bowl champion teams. Despite his success and longstanding tenure with Big Blue, it is time for him to move on and finish his career somewhere else.
When the Giants restructured Umenyiora's contract in June they included a voidable 2013 year. This allowed them to make Osi happy in the short run by increasing his 2012 salary to $6 million while also avoiding having to give him a long term deal.
Given Umenyoira's contract squabbles over the last few years, he will definitely want a lucrative multi-year deal in the offseason. The Giants will be wise to let the one-dimensional 31-year-old sack specialist walk and use the money to sign restricted free agent Victor Cruz as well as start saving to lock up Jason Pierre-Paul long-term.
This decision should be made easier by the fact that Umenyiora has only four sacks and one forced fumble in 10 games played this season.
Hixon has good hands and has always been a dependable target for Eli Manning—when he's actually healthy.
Two ACL tears in back-to-back seasons cost Hixon all of 2010 and 14 games in 2011. He's managed to play in nine of 10 games this season but suffered a concussion earlier this year and is currently dealing with an ankle injury.
Assuming Hixon finishes the season somewhat healthy, he will likely seek a multi-year deal in free agency worth several million dollars. Giving an injury-prone player with a 3rd wide receiver ceiling more than the league minimum is not wise.
This is especially true when you consider New York has Hakeem Nicks, Rueben Randle and Jerrel Jernigan all under contract next year, with each making less than seven figures.
Blackburn is simply not a good linebacker. According to ProFootballFocus.com, he's actually one of the worst inside linebackers in the NFL. The statistic-heavy website gave Blackburn an overall rating of -10.3, which was better than only eight of the 50 inside linebackers that were evaluated.
Blackburn has been active this year with 55 tackles, tied for second on the team with Antrel Rolle, and has had a knack for the big play. He's racked up two sacks, four forced fumbles, one INT and three pass defenses. All of these numbers will match or exceed career highs by season's end.
These numbers will probably be enough for some team to foolishly offer him a significant deal in free agency. If you don't believe me then use the Jacksonville Jaguars' signing of Aaron Ross last season as an example of a team drastically overrating a member of the Giants' defense.
New York should let some other team buy the hype that Blackburn is a good linebacker and ignore the reality that he is having a career year that won't be duplicated.
Diehl's cap hit of $7.45 million hurts if the Giants cut him in the offseason. His play this year, though, suggests paying him $4.1 million to take up a roster spot would hurt more.
The Giants' record when Diehl has played a full game this season is 0-3 (he injured his knee early in the Tampa Bay win so that game doesn't count). When Sean Locklear started in Diehl's place after the knee injury, the Giants went 5-1. It's not fair to blame this win/loss disparity on one player, but as Ed Valentine at Big Blue View points out in a well-written piece comparing Diehl to Locklear, Diehl has been significantly worse in pass blocking.
If you want a reason why the passing attack has struggled so much the last two games, a lot of the onus should fall on Diehl's shoulders.
The Giants began the process of getting younger on the offensive line when they didn't re-sign Kareem McKenzie after the 2011 season. That process should continue by cutting Diehl after the 2012 season comes to an end.
Corey Webster and Chris Canty are two players most Giants fans don't want to see back in 2013. Webster's cap hit of $9.975 million is too steep, though, especially with the cornerback position being so thin around the league. Canty's hit is a little more reasonable at $8.2 million, but the Giants would be better off asking the eight-year veteran defensive tackle to restructure his current deal that still has two more years left on it. Canty can still be a useful player on the interior of a defensive line that relies on depth along with talent to be successful.
Free agent-to-be Ramses Barden has been disappointing in his four year career, but he showed enough in the Carolina and Philadelphia games earlier this season to warrant another chance. If the Giants can retain him for close to the league minimum, he should stick around.