NFL: Who Will Return for the New York Giants if and when the Lockout Ends?

Nicholas LianosCorrespondent IMarch 17, 2011

touugh decisions ahead
touugh decisions aheadNFL Photos/Getty Images

When NFL players and owners finally settle their dispute on how to share their $9 billion industry, the New York Giants will have a lot of player personnel decisions to make.

With several key free agents at key spots, who will be brought back is still up in the air.

From what I understand, when the players and owners agree to a contract, it will include a salary cap and most likely a rookie salary cap.  Last year was played without a cap, and teams were allowed to spend as much as they like, but that figures to change in 2011.  Figure the cap to be close to $130 million per team.

If that is the case, the Giants already have $132 million in players currently under contract. That means Jerry Reese will need to free up at least $25 million in order to be actively aggressive in free agency.

How aggressive they will be is all up to the new CBA.  For example, if a player needs only four years of service time to become a free agent, then Steve Smith and Ahmad Bradshaw would become unrestricted free agents. 

Assuming the new CBA will allow players to be free agents after four years, here is who I see back in uniform for the New York Giants:


Quarterback:  Eli Manning, Ryan Perrilloux

While Sage Rosenfels gives the Giants a quality backup, his $3 million salary makes him expendable.


Running Back:  Danny Ware, Brandon Jacobs

While Bradshaw is a good fit for this offense, his expected salary and costly fumbles put him on the outside looking in.  Other running back options are DeAngelo Williams and Cedric Benson to replace Bradshaw.


Wide Receiver: Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, Steve Smith, Ramses Barden, Dominek Hixon, Victor Cruz and Duke Calhoun

Steve Smith will be brought back. He will need to sign a favorable first-year contract as he returns from microfracture surgery. Look for a performance-based contract until he proves he is 100 percent back, and then he will get a big extension.


Offensive Line: Mitch Petrus, David Diehl, Chris Snee, Rich Seubert, William Beatty and Adam Koets

The Giants are old and have a lot money tied up in Shawn O'Hara, Kareem McKenzie and Shaun Andrews.  O'Hara and Andrews are injury risks, while McKenzie has seen better days. 

Look for the Giants to get a tackle and guard in the draft. 


Defensive Line: Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul, Lival Joseph, Osi Umenyiora, Chris Canty and Dave Tollefson

Canty will probably need to restructure his contract to be back.  I can't see how the Giants will be able to re-sign Barry Cofield, and Rocky Bernard makes too much to be brought back as a backup.

I won't be shocked if Osi is traded.  The Giants have got to be thrilled that he is one of the eight players named in the lawsuit against the NFL.


FB/TE:  Bear Pascoe, Travis Beckum and Kevin Boss

Underrated Kevin Boss will be brought back because of his pass-catching ability.  Madison Hedgecock was a great lead blocker, but his injury most likely cost him his job.


Linebackers: Michael Boley, Jonathan Goff, Clint Sintim and Philip Dillard

The Giants need a major upgrade here.

I won't be shocked if they cut Boley as well.  Chase Blackburn, Keith Bullock and Gerris Wilkinson are free agents who didn't add much to the unit.


Corner/Safety:  Kenny Philips, Antrel Rolle, Corey Webster, Aaron Ross, Terrel Thomas, Bruce Johnson and Deon Grant

Grant earned a spot with his play last year.  Corey Webster will need to restructure his $8 million contract to help out the Giants, while Ross and Thomas enter their final years of their contracts, and both will be looking for extensions. 


Special Teams:  Matt Dodge, Zak DeOssie

Lawrence Tynes has played his last game for the Giants. Get me someone who can kick the ball at least to the goal line, not the 10-yard line.