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The New York Giants have been one of the better teams in the NFL over the past few years under head coach Tom Coughlin. Despite a 10-6 record, however, the Giants missed the playoffs and Coughlin will enter 2011 on the hot seat.
New York has a few free agents who have been big performers for them in recent seasons, and they should do their best to retain them if they want to get past the Philadelphia Eagles and into the playoffs this season.
Running back Ahmad Bradshaw broke out for 1,235 yards and eight touchdowns on 276 carries in 2010, establishing himself as the Giants' top running back. While he did have fumbling issues, there isn't a guy in free agency other than DeAngelo Williams who has the pure talent Bradshaw possesses.
Slot receiver Steve Smith exploded onto the scene in 2009 with 107 catches for 1,220 yards and seven touchdown receptions, but was set back by injuries in 2010. The young receiver is a fantastic complement to emerging star Hakeem Nicks, and quarterback Eli Manning needs Smith if the offense is to keep humming along.
Tight end Kevin Boss has been a consistent blocker and red-zone option for the Giants since 2008, and being one of the more underrated players in the NFL, he may be one of the best values on the market.
Defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka started 2010 off with a bang, recording four sacks in the first three games before going down with an injury. Kiwanuka could start for anyone in the league, as well as alongside Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyora, arguably the league's best corps of defensive ends.
Defensive tackle Barry Cofield had a fantastic year in 2010, notching 54 tackles and four sacks, as well as a forced fumble. Cofield anchors one of the top defensive lines in the NFL.
All five of these players are dynamic talents, and the Giants should do their best to retain all of them. But since that's not realistic, their top priorities should be Bradshaw, Smith and Kiwanuka.
If they can't keep the majority of these guys, their 2011 season could be in jeopardy despite one of the NFL's best 2011 draft classes.