The New York Giants ownership and management have made it clear they have no intentions of signing new contracts with the uncertainty of the upcoming season.
Many teams have similar philosophies, but it may hurt the Giants more than we think.
As the Giants' season came to a close after a 17-14 victory over the Washington Redskins, many players didn't know what their future would be with the Giants.
As of right now, 21 players, including Kevin Boss, Ahmad Bradshaw, Barry Cofield, Mathias Kiwanuka and Steve Smith, do not have contracts for the 2011 season. These five players are starters or key contributors and played in Super Bowl 42, with the exception of Kiwanuka.
If another team is willing to make a move and forget about the collective bargaining agreement not being settled, the Giants may lose out on a key piece of the puzzle.
The Giants have some players that should be brought back as special teams players or guys who they like and will offer some sort of contract: Chase Blackburn, Kevin Boothe, Deon Grant, Derek Hagan, Domenik Hixon, Jamon Meredith, Bear Pascoe, Dave Tollefson, Danny Ware and Gerris Wilkinson.
Boothe and Meredith provide depth on an offensive line that showed they are vulnerable to injuries this past year.
Who would be a bigger loss for the Giants?
Grant, Pascoe, Hagan and Blackburn all performed nicely in expanded roles.
Pascoe may have taken Madison Hedgecock's starting job away.
Grant played perfectly in Perry Fewell's three safety look.
Blackburn is the special teams captain and is one of the only solid players they have in that department.
Hagan filled in great when every other Giant wide receiver went down with an injury; he would be nice to have, in case injuries strike again and could possibly be the number four receiver on this team.
The other guys, Tollefson, Ware and Wilkinson, may be brought back if the price is right, but they could also get an offer from another team.
There are several players that will most likely not be welcomed back; players that won't be brought back are Keith Bullock, Michael Johnson, Darius Reynaud, Jim Sorgi, Courtney Brown and Michael Clayton.
Not saying that these guys are bad players, but the Giants are either set at these positions or won't be willing to pay them.
After letting go of those players, there are some that management would like to bring back. The only concern with these guys is: Can the Giants afford to pay them? Players like Cofield, Bradshaw, Boss, Kiwanuka and Smith are certainly deserving of bigger contracts.
Boss will most likely be brought back because of the value he has in both run blocking and pass catching; plus, after Boss, the Giants are left with Travis Beckum. He is not great in run blocking and has not been used much since he has arrived.
Bradshaw is an interesting case.
The Giants love having two running backs who contrast in running style with Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs, but Jacobs left the last game of the season screaming at the media. He may be on his way out.
If the Giants decide to get rid of Jacobs, they must keep Bradshaw, despite his fumbling problems and a much bigger contract that he will want. Hopefully, Coughlin can fix this issue like he did with Tiki Barber, and the contract won't dig too deep into John Mara and Steve Tisch's pockets.
Steve Smith will most likely stay with the Giants. Not because he wants to or not, but he really has no other choice. I would be surprised if any other team made a big offer to him coming off of a serious knee injury that ended his season several weeks before the regular season ended. The offseason surgery will keep Smith from running until June and may keep him out of some regular season games.
Smith will most likely sign a one year offer from New York for a modest sum.
Now we get to some key guys who may not be around in 2011.
Both Cofield and Kiwanuka have been key players for the Giants over the past several years.
Cofield had another solid season on the Giants defensive front, totaling 54 tackles and four sacks for a dominant Giants' defensive line. He also contributed a great taser celebration after sacking Jay Cutler that brought smiles to millions of fans.
But the Giants already have a great deal of money put into the defensive tackle position with big contracts to Chris Canty and Rocky Bernard (Bernard is currently making $4 million a year for the next two years and Canty is making about $6 million a year until 2014). Not to mention that Linval Joseph still hasn't touched the field after being selected in the second round of last years draft (he is making around $1 million a year until 2013).
This means the Giants are currently locked up for roughly $11 million at the defensive tackle position until at least 2012. Cofield won't likely settle for another one year deal or a multi-year deal with less money than another team offers.
Despite the solid play and his ability to stuff the run and rush the passer, Cofield may be gone come 2011.
Kiwanuka may be in a similar situation that Steve Smith was in, but he will likely have more suitors. Kiwi can play both the linebacker and defensive end position and was having a great year until he went down with an injury that ended his season.
The fact that he was injured early on in the season gave him a long time to rehab and he will be ready to go in 2011.
The Giants already have Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora at the defensive end position, with Jason Pierre-Paul showing spurts of dominance in his rookie year; throw in the potential that Jerry Reese drafts another defensive end and suddenly Kiwi isn't needed as much. He very well could get a nice offer from another team.
While it seems the Giants will be able to keep a good group of their core players that will be free agents, some of these guys will jet for a better opportunity to play or more money.
In any other year, the Giants would more then likely bring back Cofield and Kiwanuka. But with the uncertainty that lies ahead and the players that ownership has picked up over the past several years, these two Giants may have played their final game as a Giant.