Thursday was a busy day for the New York Giants.
While news of cornerback Corey Webster’s pay cut, center David Baas’ restructured contract, safety Kenny Phillips’ refusal of a new deal and All-Pro defensive back Charles Woodson’s potential future in New York swept the headlines, the Giants quietly tendered each of their three exclusive rights free agents, according to The Star-Ledger.
Center Jim Cordle and defensive ends Adrian Tracy and Justin Trattou each earned another a chance to be back with Big Blue by agreeing to a one-year, league-minimum salary. These three players lack experience, but each has the potential to make an impact with the Giants in 2013.
Cordle, a center, was acquired as an undrafted free agent in April of 2010. The former Ohio State Buckeye was waived in his first training camp with the team and ultimately landed on the practice squad.
In October of 2011, however, Cordle was called up from the practice squad. Baas, the starting center, was recovering from a stinger and was expected to miss some time. With Baas sidelined, Cordle provided some valuable depth in the interior offensive line.
Cordle played in nine games in 2011, primarily on special teams. He regained his roster spot in 2012, contributing in spot duty or in a mop-up role at either guard or center. Cordle played in all 16 games and filled in adequately when called upon.
Cordle, 25, has decent size for an interior offensive lineman (6'3", 320 lbs). Baas, who started all 16 games in 2012, frequented the injury report and only managed to start 11 regular-season games in 2011. He should rest easy with the knowledge that Cordle is under contract as his backup.
With right guard Chris Snee recovering from offseason hip surgery and left guard Kevin Boothe nearing free agency, Cordle adds some much-needed depth for a unit that is currently a bit shaky.
Tracy, a sixth-round selection from William and Mary in the 2010 draft, was another ERFA tendered by the Giants on Thursday. The 25-year-old pass-rusher has a skill set that earned him the nickname “Young Osi” in training camp last August.
Originally, the Giants wanted to make Tracy a strong-side linebacker when he came into the league, but that plan was halted when a dislocated elbow landed him on the injured reserve. It was put on hold once again in 2011, as Tracy spent the season on the practice squad.
In August of 2012, the plan to convert Tracy to linebacker was finally scrapped, and the 6'3", 245-pounder was finally allowed to put his hand in the dirt, resuming his more natural position of defensive end. Although a bit undersized, Tracy uses speed, like Umenyiora, to make up for the mass he lacks.
In a limited role, Tracy was able to impress at times in 2012, even earning a “secret weapon” title after the Giants' Week 6 win over San Francisco, in which he collected four tackles and a sack on just 12 snaps. He played in all 16 games, finishing the season with 12 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.
Tracy could make a difference if his role is extended in 2013. With Umenyiora likely to take his talents elsewhere, the Giants will need a difference-making, rotational speed rusher to fill the gap he leaves behind. Tracy is the most logical solution.
Trattou, another former undrafted free agent, was the final ERFA retained by the Giants on Thursday. The defensive end and former Florida Gator should compete with Tracy in training camp this summer.
After joining the team as an UDFA in 2011, Trattou was waived and placed on the practice squad in early September. He only spent seven days there, as former-Giant Jonathan Goff suffered a torn ACL, which opened up a roster spot for Trattou. He was sent back down a week later to make room for wide receiver Brandon Stokley.
Although Trattou remained inactive for the majority of the 2011 season, bouncing to and from the practice squad, he was activated for six games late in the season, allowing him to chip in on special teams as the team went on its Super Bowl run. He was a reserve at defensive end but did not see any action on the line.
Which former ERFA will have the largest impact in 2013?
The Giants had high hopes for Trattou in 2012, but a lingering heel/ankle injury, which severely limited his participation camp and preseason, forced the team to waive him in mid-August. He spent the season on injured reserve.
Trattou will turn 25 this month, and, after a year of rest, he should be revamped and ready to compete for a roster spot. Tracy will probably be his biggest competition. Trattou lacks his counterpart’s explosiveness, but he possesses a more traditional frame (6'4", 255 lbs), which could make him a little stouter against the run.
Umenyiora’s imminent departure creates yet another hole for the Giants, which never fielded a proper replacement for defensive end Dave Tollefson when he left in 2012, but that doesn’t mean both Trattou and Tracy are safe. They’ll have to fend off both Adewale Ojomo and Matt Broha, who were impressive last preseason, in addition to whatever talent the Giants add at D-end in the draft or free agency.