Unfortunately for the Giants, that means four of their starters from the 2010 season—Ahmad Bradshaw, Kevin Boss, Steve Smith and Barry Cofield—and two of their key reserves—Mathias Kiwanuka and Deon Grant—will be unrestricted free agents.
With that said, it's highly unlikely that New York will be able to retain even four of the six players—there is no way Cofield is coming back with Chris Canty, Linval Joseph and Marvin Austin all in the mix at DT—and depending on how much money Bradshaw, Smith, Boss and Kiwanuka are willing to settle for, the Giants may be limited to signing just two or three of them.
According to The New York Daily News, the 2011 salary cap will be set at, or close to, $120 million—there is speculation about whether it will be a hard or soft cap. This is unwelcoming news for the Giants, who, according to ESPN.com, are $11.3 million over the cap.
As a result, New York has to focus solely on its priorities—they have made it clear that signing Bradshaw is their No. 1 priority and hope that Bradshaw, Smith and Boss will sign for a reasonable price.
However, Bradshaw, who totaled 1,549 yards from scrimmage and eight touchdowns in 2010, has made it clear that he expects a big pay day and will sign with the team that offers him the most money.
"I take it very seriously where I want to be. I love New York and would love to stay there but then the money factor comes in," Bradshaw said in a radio interview with WQAM's Sid Rosenberg.
Of course, it doesn't help that he recently left his agent, Craig Domann, and hired Miami native Drew Rosenhaus, the NFL's version of Scott Boras.
Rosenhaus, who is known for getting his clients monster deals, stirred things up a little bit in an interview with Miami's 7 Sports Xtra, by saying that Bradshaw would be open to signing with the Dolphins.
"He's training here in Miami and would be very interested in the Dolphins," Rosenhaus said, according to Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "If they (the Dolphins) are interested in Ahmad, we're very interested in the Dolphins."
Although this is clearly a ploy to drive Bradshaw's stock up, the fact is that the Dolphins have much more money to offer—$13.6 million under—than the Giants do, so unless Bradshaw is willing to take less to sign with New York, he may be headed to Miami.
If he does, here are three free agent running backs that the Giants should target this offseason.
At 5'9", 215 pounds, DeAngelo Williams not only has a similar build to Ahmad Bradshaw but he also possesses a lot of the same running back traits that make Bradshaw successful: patient, explosive, powerful, quick and decisive.
However, unlike Bradshaw, Williams is a tremendous ball carrier, and has fumbled just six times in his five-year career—Bradshaw fumbled seven times in 2010 alone.
What is concerning about Williams is his durability.
He has played in all 16 games just twice, and the number of carries he had at Memphis may be taking a toll on his body.
Still, there is no questioning his raw talent and ability as a running back. Just two years ago, in 2008, Williams recorded one of the best seasons by a running back in the last decade.
Despite sharing the workload with Jonathan Stewart, Williams rushed for 1,515 yards (third in the NFL—behind only Adrian Peterson and Michael Turner, who each had at least 90 more attempts than Williams) and 18 touchdowns (first in the NFL), while finishing with an average of 5.5 yards per carry (second in the NFL).
Although I think Bradshaw is a more complete running back than Williams—in addition to finishing with more receptions than Williams in 2010, Bradshaw was also rated the No. 1 blocking running back by Pro Football Focus, Williams is more than capable of being the Giants' workhorse.
Had Michael Bush decided to fore go his senior year at Louisville, it's widely believed that he would have been a first round draft pick in the 2006 NFL Draft.
Instead, Bush, who was coming off a junior campaign in which he ran for 1,143 yards and 23 touchdowns, elected to stay for his senior season, and was considered by many as one of the preseason favorites to win the Heisman Trophy.
However, in just the third quarter of the season opener against Kentucky, Bush suffered fractures to his tibia and fibula that would cost him the rest of his senior season.
As a result, his stock dropped in the 2007 NFL Draft, and Bush slid all the way to the fourth round, where the Oakland Raiders selected him with the No. 100 pick.
Although he has played second fiddle to Darren McFadden for most of his career, Bush, when given the opportunity, has showcased why he was once listed among the nation's best running backs.
Despite starting just 10 games in his career, Bush has eclipsed the 90-yard mark seven times, including his career-best 177-yard explosion against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers back in 2008.
At 6'1", 245 pounds, Bush is a physical runner, with surprisingly quick feet and soft hands.
Don't be fooled by his size; Bush can flat out run. In just 158 carries, Bush recorded five rushes of 20 or more yards—which is more than Ray Rice, Ryan Matthews, DeAngelo Williams, Jahvid Best, Thomas Jones and Felix Jones all had.
If given the opportunity, Bush has the skill set to be a dynamic running back in this league. And, he will come at a much cheaper price than DeAngelo Williams or Ahmad Bradshaw.
Just kidding...But, in case you're wondering how Giants' fans would react to his signing, click here.
You're damn right.
There's no questioning Harrison's talent (he averaged 6.0 yards on 40 carries with the Eagles), however, no matter where he goes, Harrison always seems to be in the coach's doghouse.
Not to worry, Tom Coughlin would straighten him out, so let's just focus on Jerome Harrison the football player.
Despite being just 5'9", Harrison is a very physical running back, who has both the power and elusiveness to get past any defender. Additionally, Harrison has a very quick initial burst, which allows him to get through the hole fast and into the secondary.
Still don't think Harrison is a capable back? Well, then look at these statistics:
In 2009, Harrison carried the ball 20 or more times in just four games with the Browns.
In those four games, the Browns went 3-1 (they won five games all season) and Harrison combined to score five touchdowns. Additionally, he eclipsed the 100-yard mark every time, rushing for 121 yards in Week 3, 286 yards (yes, he finished 10 yards shy of the NFL record) in Week 15, 148 yards in Week 16 and 127 yards in Week 17.
To make his accomplishments even more impressive, Harrison did all of this with Derek Anderson at quarterback and Evan Moore at wide receiver.
How much time do you think the opponents spent game planning for either of them?
Despite limited touches, Harrison continued his success when he got to Philadelphia. In both of the games that Harrison received 10 or more carries, he ran for at least 99 yards and had a long run of 35 yards or more.
Like Michael Bush, Harrison has the talent to be a solid starting running back in this league. The only question is: will he get the opportunity to be one?