Just like that, the month of February, which brought us the first cold-weather Super Bowl to be played outdoors and the annual NFL Scouting Combine, is over.
I’d stop to ponder where the time goes except there are bigger things to wonder about, namely what the New York Giants might be doing when free agency begins at 4 p.m. ET on March 11.
Apparently, I’m not alone in wondering what stories there will be to write or how they will affect the Giants' draft, which will take place two months later.
Readers who answered the call for questions for this, my latest Twitter mailbag, have some burning inquiries about what still might be to come in the next few weeks.
As always, thanks to those who submitted questions—if I didn’t answer yours or if you didn’t get a chance to submit a question, you can always hit me up on Twitter, or post your question below in the comments section.
Hey, Julian, thanks for the question. I think the Giants are going to address receiver in both free agency and the draft in order to fill out the depth if Hakeem Nicks and Louis Murphy are not re-signed, as I believe will be the scenario.
In terms of the draft, since the receiver class is so deep, the Giants might wait to address this position. As I recently wrote, someone like Kent State’s Dri Archer might be a nice Day 3 pickup.
As for a veteran, I’m thinking Green Bay's James Jones, who turns 30 in March, might get a look.
We can probably safely assume that Victor Cruz will be a starter. We cannot, however, assume Rueben Randle will be the other starter, though he'll probably be penciled in at that spot for the time being if Nicks does leave.
That doesn’t mean Randle is going to be the new starter on opening day.
As general manager Jerry Reese told reporters at the combine last week, via Pro Football Talk, “I’m not sure if (Randle's) a one, if he’s a two, if he’s a three, but I think he can contribute to our receiving corps.”
Randle, remember, had a strong spring and summer taking all those extra reps because Nicks and Cruz were absent.
When the season came along, Randle’s performance slid down. Per Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Randle was held without a touchdown reception in the final six games of the 2013 season and didn’t have any receptions in two of those last six games (despite being targeted at least once).
That’s probably why Reese believes the jury is still out on Randle and why he said (emphasis mine), “We continue to expect him to grow and be a more mature player and be a strong contributor for us.”
Excellent question! I do not think the Giants will draft cornerback Justin Gilbert in Round 1 if he’s there unless the pick that I believe they’re targeting, tight end Eric Ebron of North Carolina, is gone.
Although the Giants need depth at cornerback, I think they will try to re-sign unrestricted free agents Trumaine McBride and Terrell Thomas and have those two compete for the starting job.
In an interview with the New York Daily News, Thomas spoke about how he was looking forward to being able to spend more time training than rehabbing in order to get back to where he was before he suffered the first of the two consecutive ACL injuries.
"I want to be a starter," Thomas said. "At the end of the day, whether it's at safety, corner, nickel, I want to start, 16 games, every game, contribute every game I can. I want to get back to my old ways."
With that said, I think the Giants will look to address the offensive side of the ball in the first round of the draft unless something highly unusual happens in the 11 picks before they’re on the clock.
Hey, Jarvis, thanks for the question. General manager Jerry Reese always says that they keep all of their options open when it comes to personnel decisions.
As I noted above, I think the Giants will try to draft a young receiver they can groom for the new-look offense. I also think they will add an older veteran who doesn’t necessarily aspire to be a No. 1 receiver like Britt does.
If that's not enough reason to pass on Britt, Chris Wesseling of NFL.com’s Around the League notes that the receiver put together a poor season on tape.
I just don't think it makes sense for the Giants to gamble on inconsistent players, not when they're trying to rebuild an offense that finished 28th in the league last year.
@Patricia_Traina do you think the recent surprise with a cap increase will change anything with the Giants plans for Tuck, Beason or Joseph?— Ed Ridzon (@edridz73) February 28, 2014
Hey, Ed, thanks for the question. I’ve always believed that the Giants will strike new deals with linebacker Jon Beason and defensive end Justin Tuck, but they will not be able to afford defensive tackle Linval Joseph.
I think Johnathan Hankins is the top option to replace Joseph if he does depart.
So, no, I don’t think the nearly $10 million jump in the salary cap, which officially landed at $133 million, will make any difference.
Where the cap jump could potentially make a difference for the Giants is that they might not have to touch as many existing contracts, such as extending safety Antrel Rolle or restructuring defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka or quarterback Eli Manning to free up cap space.
(As has already been reported by Pro Football Talk, offensive linemen Chris Snee and David Baas are two players who will have their 2014 cap numbers adjusted one way or another.)
However, other restructures, contract terminations and pay cuts will depend on how aggressive the Giants plan to be in free agency.
If Reese, who per Ebenezer Samuel of the New York Daily News said, "If you can hold your water (in free agency), we think there’ll probably be some guys available in those second and third waves,” is to be believed, it sounds like the Giants are going to be patient in free agency.
Thanks for the question. As I said above, I would be shocked if the Giants lose defensive end Justin Tuck in free agency.
I also don’t think you can really worry about 2015 regarding who may or may not be back.
With that said, while I don’t see the Giants drafting a defensive end in the first round, I do think they’re going to try to pick up a young player to begin grooming for the future, perhaps sometime during Day 3.
Brandon, I strongly agree with NJ.com's report that the Giants are going to target guards in free agency.
I think they prefer to leave Justin Pugh and Will Beatty at tackle. I also think they’re hoping Snee can make it back from his injuries, as he can serve as a mentor to help with the transition that's expected to take place on the line.
If I’m the Giants, I try to re-sign Kevin Boothe, an unrestricted free agent, and Jim Cordle, a restricted free agent, as options for center. This way if Baas balks at taking a pay cut, I have the center position covered.
As for the draft, I look to pick up at least one offensive lineman on Day 2 and possibly a second one on Day 3.
One offensive lineman not many people are mentioning, but who I think we have to keep in the conversation, is Brandon Mosley.
Mosley, 6’6”, 318 pounds, held his own at guard in the 59 snaps he received prior to suffering a season-ending broken hand against Detroit.
Per Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Mosley finished with a 1.5 grade in run blocking and allowed just three quarterback hurries.
Although last year was Mosley’s second season, remember that he lost his rookie year to a season-ending injury suffered in the preseason. In essence, 2013 was really his first nearly full year on a NFL field, and he didn't do anything in my opinion to not warrant an opportunity to compete in 2014 for a roster spot.
One other thing you need to remember is that the Giants usually cross-train their guards to play center. Depending on how far along Mosley is in that regard, he could be an option there at some point.
With that all said, would I love to see the Giants sign a free-agent center such as Cleveland’s Alex Mack if Baas is cut? Absolutely!
Do I think it’s going to happen? As I mentioned in my response to Ed two questions above, it sounds like the Giants are going to be patient in free agency, which means that I doubt they’ll splurge for Mack if he does hit the open market.
I am the senior editor for Inside Football. All quotes and information obtained firsthand, unless otherwise noted. All opinions are my own and do not necessarily reflect the thinking of the New York Giants organization.