Updates from Tuesday, Mar. 11
CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora reports the expectation for which team Justin Tuck will sign with this offseason:
The New York Giants seem to have hit a wall since their Super Bowl XLVI victory, having missed the playoffs in each of the past two seasons. One of the key members of their championship-contending nucleus has been defensive end Justin Tuck, who will hit the open market when free agency begins on March 11.
Just as it's difficult to know what to expect from the Giants in recent years, where Tuck will end up is the subject of much speculation. All that's certain is that New York will let the two-time All-Pro and its other free agents test the waters while it figures out the future of the franchise.
Speaking at the NFL Scouting Combine, general manager Jerry Reese indicated that Tuck would be free to talk with other teams, per a Feb. 22 report by ESPN.com's Rich Cimini:
Justin is going to go to the market and see what's out there for him. I had talks with all those [prospective free agents]. Free agency means free agency. It means you go out and get as much as you can. I'm all for players getting as much as they can. Justin deserves to see what the market is. We'd love to have him back. We'll see where it goes.
Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News weighed in on Reese's comments, implying that the team could re-sign Tuck before he even hits free agency:
Mike Silver of the NFL Network isn't very optimistic about the market for Tuck's services:
But Reese and Co. would have to move quickly to get that done. So far, no news or rumors have surfaced regarding a new deal for Tuck and March 11 is a mere days away.
Injuries plagued Tuck in the Giants' last run to the Super Bowl and after a lackluster 2012 campaign, he registered 11 sacks this past season, returning to his Pro-Bowl form. He turns 31 at the end of March, so Reese's passive but hopeful stance on Tuck's situation makes sense and only enhances the chances of the veteran switching teams for the first time in his career.
The Giants drafted Tuck in the third round of the 2005 draft, and he's developed into a fixture on the defensive line. He benefited from the tutelage of Michael Strahan and has played alongside Osi Umenyiora and Jason Pierre-Paul more recently.
Even though big names have occupied the defensive trenches in the Big Apple, the results on the field haven't quite been up to par. New York missed the playoffs the previous two years before capturing the Lombardi Trophy following the 2011 season, and the talent on defense has not translated to results on a consistent enough basis.
It also doesn't help that quarterback Eli Manning tends to be erratic, as evidenced by his 27 interceptions in 2013.
That could entice Tuck to flee, since he continued to play at a high level last season but wasn't rewarded with better play from those around him. The defense was constantly put in tough positions due to the offense's penchant for turning it over—another incentive for Tuck to leave town.
As for what team Tuck will go to, anything at this point would be pure conjecture. Where he lands depends on what he wants but a young, up-and-coming team could use him as a mentor and still have him play a big role for the foreseeable future.
Or Tuck could go to a contender with a deeper roster and be more of a change-of-pace, situational type of pass-rusher who can move all across the defensive front.
Tuck showed that he has enough in the tank to continue being a productive player but what will be interesting to see is how he performs with a new, lucrative contract in tow.
A change of scenery may be what Tuck needs to continue thriving in the NFL—it would be an unprecedented move for him—and at the same time, it may be difficult to adapt to a new culture and coach for the first time since he turned pro.