last time we see both celebrate
With the CBA to be finalized sooner than later, GM Jerry Reese will have a lot to do before the season starts. With many key free agents and about $125 million cap to work with, I don't want to be in his shoes.
The Giants free agents include Ahmad Bradshaw, Pro Bowler Steve Smith, TE Kevin Boss, Barry Cofield, DE/LB Mattias Kiwanuaka. All were starters last year and will be heavily sort after by the league.
Add role players in Deon Grant, Chase Blackburn and Keith Bullock, the Giants could lose about seven of their 22 starters from last season.
To complicate things even further there is Osi Umenyiora. Named one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the NFL, Osi has asked for his contract to be redone or to be traded.
Here is how I see the Giants unrestricted free agents signing.
something you will see at practice in carolina
Mattias Kiwanuka was the Giants first-round draft choice back in 2006. Kiwi can play both OLB and defensive end for any team. Probably best suited for OLB after injuring his neck last year, Kiwi will have plenty of offer to pick from.
Concerns: How his neck hold up following surgery? Cleared to play but still a huge risk. Mattias also missed time with broken leg in 2007.
Possible Dark Horse: Lions
The winner is Carolina.
The Panthers will most likely lose Charles Johnson to free agency, and Kiwi will be his replacement.
keep veteran LB???
The Giants signed Keith Bulluck last year just before training camp started to be the Giants impact LB that he was for the Tennessee Titans for 11 years.
Bulluck was solid when on the field, but under the Giants defense, he wasn't on the field much.
Concerns: How much does Keith have left in the tank?
Suitors: Giants, Lions
Dark Horse: Chiefs
Winner is the Giants.
The Giants need him to fill the OLB role. Showed that he can still play and under Perry Fewell's system will be very productive player.
Brought in to be the solid veteran if Kenny Phillips' knee didn't allow him to be ready at the start of the 2010 season.
Grant was the perfect fit for the Giants as Phillips, Rolle and Grant all worked well together and were all on the field together. Grant would move to a LB/ S in multiple packages under Perry Fewell.
Concerns: Can he repeat last year's performance again?
Winner is the Texans.
The secondary needs a major upgrade at corner and safety. Grant is reliable safety that will help the team attempt to make the playoffs.
Best #4 option in the NFL
The sleeper player who helped the Giants win the Superbowl in 2007, Boss has be the most reliable TE the Giants have had in a long time.
Was drafted because of his receiving ability, Boss has become a very good blocker. Kevin has become the forgotten man at times in the Giants passing game but will get around 40 receptions and six touchdowns per year.
Concerns: Concussions. Missed a few games because of concussions during his career.
Winner is the Saints.
Replaces Jeremy Shockey yet again. Another weapon from Brees.
killing qbs with the Giants?
Barry Cofield is one of the best defensive lineman who most of the country never heard of.
Playing along a line that had Michael Strahan and now features Jason Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Jason Pierre-Paul, Barry has quietly been a force in the middle.
Barry stuffs the run and is also a solid pass-rusher himself. The fact that he is a four-down DT will get him a great contract in the next few days.
Dark Horse: Titans
Winner is the Rams.
Two quality defensive ends adding pressure from the middle will make the Rams better.
will he torch the cowboys for the giants again?
Always known as the other Steve Smith, Steve has been Eli Manning favorite target to throw to. Reliable receiver with great hands (107 receptions in 2009) and great route-runner.
Uncanny ability to get a key first down on a third-and-long.
Concern: Smith torn is ACL and MCL in week 10 vs the Vikings. Should be ready for the start of the season but that is not know for sure.
The winner is the Giants.
Eli Manning to Smith will a phrase you will hear until both retire. The security blanket not going anywhere.
running to greener pasture?
Ahmad Bradshaw was the Giants featured running back for most of the 2010 season. The former seventh-round pick has averaged almost five yards per carry throughout his NFL career.
Durable running back with good hands as a receiver as his receptions have increased as he has gotten more playing time.
Concerns: Fumbles. Eight in 2010, lost seven of them. Not good. Two bad ankles that were surgically repaired in both 2008 and 2009.
Winner is the Colts.
Colts get every down back to help their bad running game. Payton Manning gets yet another weapon to use to go along with Clark, Wayne and Garcon.
any one of them coming back
Here are the other Giants free agents:
Kevin Boothe: Guard/ Tackle. Reliable offensive lineman should be able to sign with another team. Hasn't played much for the Giants. Not likely to be brought back.
Chase Blackburn: Linebacker. The Giants special teams captain probably will be brought back. Can fill in at all the LB spots. Not a starter but nice veteran to have on bench.
Dave Tollefson: Defensive End. Odd man out on team stacked at the position. Has a motor the never stops, good special teams player. Not likely to be brought back.
Gerris Wilkinson: Linebacker. Never more than a backup and never healthy. Not likely to be brought back.
Jim Sorgi: Quarterback. Backup QB that has not been healthy the last two years. Not likely to be brought back.
Michael Clayton: Wide Receiver. Brought in with all the injuries to Giants wide outs last year. Didn't see a lot of snaps on offense but became reliable special teams player. Will have to fight for a job on this team if brought back.
Derek Hagan: Wide Receiver. One of the last cuts from 2009 training camp, Derek was brought back in November when Giants wide outs were dropping like flies.
Not more than a fourth receiver, Derek will get offers with his special teams play. Probably not brought back.
celebrating somewhere else
I see the Giants losing Barry Cofield, Mattias Kiwanuka, Ahmad Bradshaw and Kevin Boss. Those are huge losses the Giants have to make up for in free agency.
Add the loss of Deon Grant too, the Giants will need to replace five starters.
Jerry Reese will also need to figure out what he will do with Osi Umenyiora, Brandon Jacobs and Shaun Andrews. While Osi's contract is reasonable, but his demands of a new contract have not gone over well with management.
Jacobs is due to make over $4.5 million this year and Andrews is going to get another $3 million. That is a lot of money to have on backup players.
Other contracts that need to be addressed:
Rockey Bernard $3 million, Chris Canty $5.25 million, Sage Rosenfelds $3 million, Shaun O'Hara $3.45 million, Kareem McKenzie $4.3 million, Michael Boley $3.5 million and Corey Webster $8 million (make more cap friendly).
I don't expect to see all of the players on the roster come opening day.
Let me know what you guys think.