Osi Umenyiora doesn't appear to be flying for Big Blue in 2013.
Player stats—like a bikini—don't show everything, and it'll be paramount for the New York Giants front office to do its due diligence when exploring defensive ends who can replace Osi Umenyiora.
Publicly, Giants co-owner John Mara is keeping the door open a crack on Umenyiora, but privately, he and fans know that the door is closed, locked and the key is gone. When asked if Umenyiora has played his final game as a Giant, Mara said via ESPN.com:
I don't know about that. We'll see what happens. I would love to have him back. He's been a great player for us. He's a great guy. He's been a huge part of our two Super Bowl wins, but there are economic considerations, and we'll just have to see what happens.
Translation: Thank you for your 10 years as a Giant, but we're $9.15 million over the salary cap, and unless you're willing to take the veteran minimum to stay, we have other free agents on this team more deserving of a sizable contract than you.
As March 12 marks the start of free agency and April 25 is the first day of the NFL draft, let's take a look at the three free agents and two draft prospects that would make a lot of sense as Osi's replacement.
All smiles for Israel Idonije as he has a chance for a fresh start.
It sounds like an international flight, but it could be Israel to New York via Chicago.
Israel Idonije, that is.
Idonije may not be on the short list of Bears to be re-signed, but he is on the Giants' radar.
The savvy veteran would fill the shoes of Osi pretty well, but not empty the wallets of co-owners Mara and Steve Tisch.
Idonije banked $900,000 plus bonuses in 2012, and he still has game at 32 years old.
At 6'6", 275 pounds, Idonije has three inches and 20 pounds on Osi with similar quickness.
It's been well-documented by now that BYU's Ezekiel Ansah first had aspirations of becoming a track star and NBA standout, but his freakish strength and speed translated better on the football field.
This April, his skills will lead to him being drafted in the first round.
A lot of "experts" are saying that Ansah could be there at No. 19 overall when the Giants draft, and this is a kid who could help Giants fans quickly forget about losing Umenyiora.
This next defensive end isn't commanding the same hype as Ansah, but would be equally satisfying to draft—Western Kentucky's Quanterus Smith.
Despite tearing his ACL this past November and cutting his senior season short, Smith compiled 12.5 sacks in 2012—three of which came against Alabama.
Assuming he's the same player that he was prior to his ACL injury, Smith is a defensive end who would make Osi in his prime look slow.
His weakness has been with clogging up the run, but his ability to get to the quarterback and or disrupt things in the backfield would be a welcome addition to Perry Fewell's defense.
In spite of his injury, people haven't been too aware of this kid because he played at Western Kentucky, but the Giants should grab him in the middle rounds if he's there.
Junior Galette flying off the end.
Most people would say the only comparison between Jason Pierre-Paul and Junior Galette is their Haitian decent, but Galette is quickly emerging as a pass-rushing specialist.
I think that of all the years that I've been in the National Football League, I don't think I've ever seen anybody grow mentally and emotionally and stability-wise as much as Junior Galette in the last three years.
Galette will be testing the free-agent market come March, and the possibility of pairing him with JPP over the next several years is something the Giants front office can't ignore.
Galette might not fill Osi's shoes right away, but he'd make sense in the long run.
Michael Johnson celebrates after one of his 11.5 sacks in 2012.
While many Giants fans are clamoring for general manager Jerry Reese to sign defensive end free agent Michael Bennett and reunite him with brother and Giants free-agent tight end Martellus, it would behoove Reese to push hard for Cincinnati Bengal free agent Michael Johnson.
Johnson is coming off a year in which he registered 11.5 sacks, and he would fit like a glove with Big Blue.
The Bengals do reserve the right to franchise him if they can't agree on a long-term deal, but if the Giants restructure enough of their own contracts, they could always make a run at Johnson.
Acquiring Johnson is a long shot, but if both he and Bennett have an interest in coming to New York, the G-Men have to make it work with Johnson.