Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
The last time Justin Tuck looked anything like a Pro Bowl defensive end was in 2010, when he recorded 11.5 sacks and was a force against the run.
Not coincidentally, Tuck was a Pro Bowl defensive end that season, his second Pro Bowl berth, to be precise.
A series of injuries that included neck and shoulder issues seemed to start Tuck, whose total sacks over the next two seasons combined didn’t come close to matching his 2010 production, on a decline.
Fortunately for the nine-year veteran, his body finally got healthy enough to focus on his training last offseason, and the difference was noticeable. After managing just 1.5 sacks through the first 11 games of the season, Tuck went on a tear, recording at least a half-sack in five of his last six games.
During that streak, he recorded four sacks against Washington to earn NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.
“I feel like this season I have been more of a complete player,” Tuck told The Associated Press. “I feel like I’ve had games where I was in the backfield a lot, disrupting plays or was a half a second away from sacks.”
Tuck, who finished 2013 with 11 sacks and a bunch of disruptive plays not reflected on the stat sheet, has expressed a desire to continue his career.
"Oh, I’m definitely not retiring. I definitely will continue to play," Tuck told Conor Orr of The Star-Ledger last month. "My body feels great. I definitely have a huge passion for the game, and we’ll see where everything stacks up at the end of the year."
While Tuck has shown he still has a lot of gas left in his tank, the Giants would presumably like to see Damontre Moore, their third-round draft pick, play a bigger role in 2014. They are obviously also hoping for a healthy Jason Pierre-Paul to return to form.
If those two things happen, that would theoretically reduce Tuck to a part-time player.
That might not be a bad thing. Tuck, who a few times this season was slow to get up after making a play, just might be able to squeeze another two or three years out of his career if his snaps are reduced each week.
With Mathias Kiwanuka and his $7.05 million salary-cap number in danger of being purged from the roster, it makes sense for the Giants to re-sign Tuck and add another young defensive end to the mix.
A three-year deal averaging around $4.5 million per season, which is less than the $6.2 million per season he averaged on his last contract, might be a nice way for Tuck to end his Giants career and for the Giants to ensure they have quality veteran depth at a key position.