New York Giants: Top 6 Positions That Will Have New Starters in 2018

Patricia Traina@Patricia_TrainaFeatured Columnist IVDecember 14, 2017

New York Giants: Top 6 Positions That Will Have New Starters in 2018

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    It won't be much longer before the winds of change blow through East Rutherford on a New York Giants team that is in shambles.

    From the front officewhere there will be a new general managerto the coaching staff, some big changes are coming. But what about the players?

    We're glad you asked, as several members of the roster are likely to be jettisoned.

    Let's take a look at some of the players, specifically those who began the year as starters, who probably won't be back next year.

Weak-Side Linebacker

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    Mark Tenally/Associated Press

    Veteran Jonathan Casillas has plugged this position for the last two years.

    However, with the 30-year-old's contract coming to an end and his NFL future in jeopardy due to a season-ending neck issue, it's probably a safe bet to pencil in a new starter at this spot in 2018.

    Casillas will finish his three-year Giants career having started in 30 of the 39 games played, with 145 total tackles, 3.5 sacks and 13 passes defensed.

Quarterback

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    Adam Hunger/Associated Press

    Although Giants co-owner John Mara has said numerous times—most recently at the NFL owners meetings this week—he would like franchise quarterback Eli Manning to return in 2018, he's also stated he will leave the decision up to the next general manager.

    Manning's chances of returning, however, are 50-50 at best. For starters, he hasn't played well this year—and you can include the handful of games he had when his receivers were healthy.

    While it's been difficult to get a good read on the 36-year-old given the talent around him these days, the NFL seems to be gravitating toward mobile quarterbacks who can extend plays, something Manning cannot do.

    Then there is the matter of what the Giants might do if they finish with the No. 2 draft pick. If they spend it on a franchise quarterback, it would be hard to imagine they would want that kid to sit behind Manning just to make him happy.

    We can also toss into the equation the fact Manning has a $5 million roster bonus due on the third day of the 2018 league year, a figure that will contribute to a $22 million cap hit.

    As hard as it might be for Giants fans to embrace it, it might be time to change the guard, er, quarterback in 2018.

Center

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    Stop me if you've heard this before, but all signs are pointing to another high-round Giants draft pick not getting a second contract with the team.

    That would be center Weston Richburg, the Giants' second-round pick in 2014 who was placed on season-ending injured reserve November 5 after suffering a concussion three weeks prior.

    The 26-year-old is set to be an unrestricted free agent this coming offseason.

    With Brett Joneswho will be a restricted free agentyounger, more cost-effective and healthier and a player whose skill set is nearly identical to Richburg's, it would be a stunning development if the Giants bring their former starting center back after this year.

Receiver

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    When the Giants signed veteran receiver Brandon Marshall to a two-year, $11 million contract, they likely did so with the intention of having him complement Odell Beckham Jr. in the 2017 passing game.

    Unfortunately, before Marshall suffered a season-ending ankle injury, he didn't appear to be a fit for the Giants offense. The 33-year-old finished with 154 yards on 18 catches and zero touchdowns before his injury in Week 5 likely ended his career with the Giants.

    Look for the Giants to add a younger receiver to complement Beckham next year and for Marshall's $6,156,250 cap hit to come off the books.

Right Tackle

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    The Giants have had a revolving door at right tackle this year due to performance and injury to Bobby Hart, who was initially penciled in to start at the position.

    The 23-year-old suffered an ankle injury in Week 2 and ended up being inactive the following two weeks. He played in Week 5 but then took a seat for three more games when Justin Pugh, who had moved to right tackle, took over the position.

    Hart, who once thought himself to be the best right tackle in the NFL, seems to have fallen so far down the depth chart that the Giants turned to undrafted rookie free agent Chad Wheeler to fill in for Pugh when he had to exit the lineup with a back ailment.

    With the expectation being the Giants offensive line is in for a makeover, a new starting right tackle for 2018 seems almost inevitable.

Slot Cornerback

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    Slot cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has been an invaluable member of the defense since signing a five-year contract with the Giants in 2014.

    That contract, however, was probably penned with the idea he would be a starter on the outside rather than a slot cornerback.

    Given his $8.5 million cap hit next year and the fact he's 31, Rodgers-Cromartie's contract might be a little too rich for a Giants team that is projected to be strapped for salary-cap space according to Over The Cap projections.

    Interestingly, the Giants didn't address cornerback in the draft this year, instead counting on undrafted free agents and veteran free agents to fill in some of the holes in the depth.

    If the next general manager views this position as a vital one for the defense, don't be shocked if he doesn't devote a draft pick toward potentially getting a younger player.

    However, another option the Giants will likely consider is making Ross Cockrell, who the team traded for at the start of the season, their new slot corner.

    Patricia Traina covers the New York Giants for Inside Football, the Journal Inquirer and Sports Xchange. All quotes and information were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.