Who Must Stay, Who Must Go for the New York Giants?
What happened to the New York Giants December resurgence?
You know, when they rise from the ashes and get hot at precisely the right time.
In Week 16 against the Baltimore Ravens, a game they needed desperately, Eli Manning struggled, and the once vaunted G-Men defense made Joe Flacco look like the most confident and comfortable quarterback in football.
With New York needing to beat the Philadelphia Eagles and get major help in Week 17 just to make the playoffs, here are three Giants who must stay and three who must be let go.
Stay: Victor Cruz
Certainly no one should be suggesting the Giants let Victor Cruz walk in free agency, but with his contract up at year's end and after a 2012 season not as prolific as his breakout in 2011, his immediate future is a top priority for general manager Jerry Reese.
His yards-per-catch average is down from 18.7 to 12.7, but he should eclipse last year's catch total, thus demonstrating his value as a well-rounded wideout and not just a deep threat specialist.
He hasn't hit as many big plays as he did during the team's Super Bowl-winning campaign, however, but he is clearly the go-to guy for Eli Manning out wide.
Stay: Chase Blackburn
Chase Blackburn is another impending free agent the Giants must look to sign long-term.
He went undrafted in 2005, was integral in the team's title a year ago and he has emerged as the team's most impactful linebacker.
He is tied with Michael Boley for the team lead with 91 tackles and has three sacks, five passes defended and one interception.
This Akron grad made $825,000 in base salary this season but certainly deserves more.
Stay: Stevie Brown
The Giants discovered another late-round draft gem.
Although the Oakland Raiders picked the former Michigan standout in the seventh round, New York signed him when they released him, and the rest is history.
The 5'11'', 227-pound safety has displayed tremendous instincts and ball-hawking skills in 2012, reeling in a team-high seven interceptions that trails only Tim Jennings of the Chicago Bears for the league lead.
At 25 years old, Brown is just entering the prime of his career.
He made $540,000 in base salary this year and is a free agent at the end of the season.
Go: Justin Tuck
Giants fans can bask in the glory of two Super Bowl championships in four years, but if they want to relive it again in future, some of the "old guard" needs to be shown the door.
Justin Tuck was instrumental in the dismantling of the previously unbeaten New England Patriots in February of 2008 and has been a defensive leader throughout his entire career with the G-Men.
This season, however, Tuck has shown that he's nearing the twilight of his professional tenure.
He has three sacks, the fewest total since a sackless 2006, and has mustered one pass defended.
Tuck, though a fan favorite, simply isn't the player he once was.
As a $5.65 million cap hit in 2013, New York should explore other options.
Go: Kenny Phillips
The Giants have a tough decision on their hands regarding safety Kenny Phillips.
Stevie Brown's emergence could force them to let the former Miami Hurricane to walk after his contract expires at the end of the 2012 season.
Though Phillips posted career highs in tackles and interceptions in 2011, he dealt with MCL problems this year and has been Wally Pipp'ed by Brown.
Who has the brighter future at safety: Phillips or Brown?
Or will the G-Men re-sign both?
Go: Chris Canty
Letting go of Chris Canty will be highly-controversial, but it's a move the Giants should make.
Listen, when the defensive tackle is healthy, he's a dominant force on the inside and frees up Jason Pierre-Paul and others.
However, he battled knee injuries all season and left the blowout loss to the Baltimore Ravens with another knee injury.
Being 30 years old and dealing with knee issues isn't a good situation to be in.
Though it won't be easy to replace him, he is set to represent a $8.2 million cap hit next season.