Cullen Jenkins will have a huge impact on New York's defense in 2013
The New York Giants roster has undergone massive changes this offseason. Aging players with bloated contracts will give way to plenty of fresh faces in 2013, creating a whirlwind of question marks surrounding the team.
Despite the fact that several household names will no longer be dawning a Giants uniform, general manager Jerry Reese has been able to manufacture a relatively promising roster for 2013.
Improvement is not always constituted by on-field metrics in modern-day football.
Navigating the salary-cap threshold, the Giants are in the process of signing inexpensive veterans this spring. The combination of affordability and undervalued talent is exactly what Jerry Reese has been searching for.
New York has taken this approach in anticipation of the long-term contracts destined for Hakeem Nicks, Jason Pierre-Paul and possibly Victor Cruz.
Success for the Giants in 2013 largely hinges upon Jerry Reese's ability to evaluate the inexpensive talent on the free-agent market. With a plethora of personnel moves already executed, here is a look at the top five ways the New York Giants have improved this offseason.
Will Brandon Myers be the Giants' long-term answer at tight end?
The Giants had no problem filling the shoes of their 6'6'', 265-pound tight end who opted to take his talents to Chicago. For the fourth time in as many years, New York will field a new tight end next season.
Oakland's Brandon Myers could represent the Giants' biggest offensive acquisition this offseason.
Myers caught 79 passes for 806 yards in 2012, besting Martellus Bennett by a wide margin in each category.
While Eli Manning will be quite content to fire passes across the middle to a skilled tight end, New York's running backs might not take too kindly to this signing. If you are looking for a stark comparison in Myers' and Bennett's skill sets, look no further than their blocking ability.
Brandon Myers has looked completely disoriented at times when blocking, while Martellus Bennett is an imposing force in this aspect of the game.
Although the terms of the deal are currently undisclosed, the Giants certainly saved money by ditching Bennett for Meyers. Eli Manning has shown he can thrive with just about anybody New York throws out there at tight end, opening up the possibility for Myers to emerge as an elite pass-catching tight end in 2013.
Ahmad Bradshaw embodied toughness during his time with New York
The decision to release Ahmad Bradshaw was not as difficult as some would assume. The Giants are a team transitioning towards avoiding obscurity. Even in early January, all signs pointed towards this cut taking place.
The abrupt release of Bradshaw in early February was accelerated due to his chronic battle with injury, combined with an undesirable contract.
Production from the running back position is often easily replaceable in the NFL's pass-first, pass-often era. What is not replaceable, however, is the leadership and toughness a player like Ahmad Bradshaw provides in the Giants' locker room.
New York can fall back on the excitingly dynamic combination of David Wilson and Andre Brown in 2013, but will undoubtedly lose the edge Bradshaw brought to the field each Sunday.
Considering the Giants' murky salary-cap situation moving forward, this move was a logical one.
Expect Corey Webster to rebound from a rough ending to the 2012 season.
Jerry Reese righted two wrongs in one fell swoop when he negotiated a pay cut with veteran cornerback Corey Webster. The two-time Super Bowl champion defensive back was much-maligned in 2012, in what can only be described as a career-worst season.
The most obvious benefit of this pay cut is the savings New York will accrue as a result of Webster's $7.25 million salary being bargained down.
For a team dealing with salary-cap inflexibility, a forfeiture of over $3 million by a player is always beneficial.
Another element of this development which will help the Giants is the likelihood that Webster returns to form in 2013. Despite the clamoring of many fans for Corey Webster's outright release, the team's secondary severely lacks a veteran presence.
Prince Amukamara appears destined for the role of top cover-corner next season. The question marks surrounding Jayron Hosley, however, forced the Giants' hand in bringing back Webster.
Very little risk is involved with giving Corey Webster a chance to rebound in 2013. While New York's younger cornerbacks continue to experience growing pains, Webster's veteran leadership will be pivotal.
Left tackle Will Beatty was a top priority for the Giants this offseason.
The five-year $38.75 million deal given to left tackle Will Beatty was a clear indication of the Giants' priorities this offseason. Beatty has improved in each of his five years in New York, making the decision to bring him back an easy one.
New York was a bit overzealous in finalizing this deal, which is just about the only criticism the team can be subjected to.
In an era where most franchises are chastised for allowing their players to test free agency, the Giants secured the future of an integral player by late February. Of course, Jerry Reese could have taken a gamble by waiting to see what Beatty commanded on the open market.
Had New York done so, they likely would have been able to retain their left tackle for slightly less than they committed.
Minnesota's Phil Loadholt is a comparable offensive tackle who was an unrestricted free-agent this offseason. The Vikings will be paying Loadholt an average of $1.5 million less annually.
Will Beatty is slightly overpaid, but his presence as Eli Manning's blindside protector is still a welcomed one.
New York could use a disruptive force in the middle of its defensive line.
Cullen Jenkins is a key addition to a New York Giants' defensive line which will look quite different in 2013. Head coach Tom Coughlin and defensive coordinator Perry Fewell will be pleased with the toughness this former Philadelphia Eagle will bring to Big Blue.
The release of Chris Canty left a glaring hole at defensive tackle for New York.
Markus Kuhn and Marvin Austin evidently have not earned the trust of the coaching staff quite yet. The three-year, $8 million deal inked by Jenkins prior to the start of free agency is an indicator of that sentiment.
While the Giants' top offensive priority was to re-sign Will Beatty, the team has also focused on improving a defensive unit which ranked 25th against the run in 2012.
The Giants agonizingly allowed 4.6 yards per carry last year, a problem Cullen Jenkins figures to mitigate.
Once again, Jerry Reese has successfully lured an affordable veteran into the fold for New York. The Giants' defense will have a nastiness to it which was clearly lacking throughout last season. This will be due in large part to the ruckus Cullen Jenkins will cause in the middle of New York's defensive line.