Why the New York Giants Should Not Pursue Josh Cribbs in Free Agency

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Why the New York Giants Should Not Pursue Josh Cribbs in Free Agency
Jason Miller/Getty Images
Josh Cribbs may be waving goodbye to Browns fans but that doesn't mean Giants fans should be welcoming him with open arms.

With the start of NFL free agency only a few days away on March 12, the rumors of which players are headed where are coming faster than they have all offseason.

One such rumor, which started Saturday, is that the New York Giants are one of five teams that are interested in signing unrestricted free agent Josh Cribbs

The two-time Pro Bowl kick returner/wide receiver is coming off a 2012 season that saw him accumulate 1,740 all-purpose yards. On the downside, he also didn't score a touchdown and only had 105 yards on offense.

Cribbs would not be a smart signing by Big Blue for a couple reasons.

First is the issue of the money he'll command. The 29-year-old is coming off a three-year contract that paid him $15.5 million. Nearly half of the contract, $7.5 million, was guaranteed. Cribbs received the contract after a tremendous 2009 campaign that saw him return four kicks for touchdowns and also hit pay dirt as a rusher and receiver.

Considering that he was firmly in his prime when he inked this deal, he probably won't see anywhere near this type of money in his new contract. Still, Cribbs has a strong track record, versatility and name recognition. He also reportedly has five teams vying for his services. These positives and leverage will likely get him a multi-year deal worth somewhere between $3 million to $4 million per year.

With the Giants only about $10 million under the $123 million salary cap, they simply can't afford to dedicate that kind of money to Cribbs. Especially when they have to try to take care of their own free agents, like Victor Cruz, Kevin Boothe, Martellus Bennett and Stevie Brown, and also attempt to shore up the defense and right tackle position through free agency.

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Along with the cost factor, New York doesn't really need Cribbs. From a wide receiver standpoint, even if the Giants lose Cruz, who is a restricted free agent, they would still have Hakeem Nicks and likely Rueben Randle as starters next season. For the third wideout slot, they could use either the first-round pick they would receive for the Salsa King or a later round pick to draft a replacement.

Considering that Cribbs' best season as a receiver only saw him catch 41 balls for 518 yards and four touchdowns, the chances are remote that he'd be one of the three best options at wideout for the Giants in 2013.

As far as kick returning goes, Cribbs remains strong in this area, despite not garnering a Pro Bowl nod since 2009. He was fourth in the NFL last season with 27.4 yards per kickoff return and sixth in punt returns with a 12-yard average.

The Giants, however, already have a great kickoff returner in David Wilson, who averaged 26.9 yards per kick return with a touchdown. As for punt returns, Randle handled the majority of the work in this area last year, with an underwhelming 7.2 yard average.

While Cribbs would be an upgrade, Randle is likely to improve with a year of experience under his belt. Even if he doesn't, it is not worth spending $3 million to $4 million per year to improve the punt return game.

Cribbs will be a good addition for some team next season. If the Giants sign him, though, it would be money wasted that could have been spent more wisely somewhere else.   

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