NFL Free Agents 2011: Why New York Giants Fans Don't Need to Panic

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NFL Free Agents 2011: Why New York Giants Fans Don't Need to Panic
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Any New York Giants fan who has been paying attention for the past couple of days is probably starting to sweat a little bit, and not without cause.

In the last 24 hours, we have found out that the Giants are planning to cut guard Rich Seubert and center/team captain Shaun O'Hara as early as tomorrow. Guard/tackle Shawn Andrews is also expected to depart, due to his health history and salary of $7.5 million.

On top of the apparent butchering of the offensive line, free agent defensive tackle Barry Cofield has signed with none other than the division rival Washington Redskins; adding insult to injury by staying within the NFC East.

Before any fans go thinking that Jerry Reese has lost his mind, a few things need to be considered.

The New York Giants were in the top five worst cap situations following the new CBA on Monday. The team found itself about $11.5 million over the cap of $120 million, meaning concessions were going to be necessary either way.

Andrews was asked to renegotiate his contract, but declined to do so, resulting in the decision to release him. Seubert and O'Hara on the other hand, are 32 and 34 respectively, coming off of gruesome injuries from the 2010 season.

Seubert dislocated his kneecap in 2010, and it has been widely believed that he was not going to be ready for the start of the 2011 season. When a guy is making $2.25 million from a team over the cap and he can't play, it's time to go. O'Hara, is coming off of surgery on both his Achilles tendon and his ankle, and is due $3.45 million in 2011.

Cutting those three finally puts New York under the new salary cap, where they have a jumping off point to make further cuts and start to sign important free agents.

Addressing the offensive line, things are not as bad as they may seem. Twenty-eight-year-old guard Kevin Boothe has signed a contract to remain with the team, and the Giants have agreed to a deal with free agent C/G David Baas, who fills a hole at either guard or center. Baas and Boothe join Kareem McKenzie, David Diehl, William Beatty, Chris Snee and Adam Koets to complete what is still an extremely formidable offensive line.

Diehl, Snee and McKenzie are Pro Bowlers, and the others are versatile; Koets performed admirably well when asked to play center in 2010. Do not overlook the fact that Baas has not missed a game in two years either, as health is huge on an O-line. Rest assured, Eli Manning will not have a shortage of protection in 2011.

As for the loss of Barry Cofield, his departure along with the likely release of Rocky Bernard and his $2.95 million, clears the way for second-round picks Linval Joseph and Marvin Austin to compete for playing time. Joseph and Austin are physically monstrous (328 and 305 lbs. respectively), and have great potential; Austin would have been a first-round pick if not for some character concerns.

Cofield playing for the Washington Redskins is nothing to fret about either, as he is not used to the 3-4 and unlikely to perform at the level he did for the Giants in Mike Shanahan's system.

Just remember: The front office knows what they are doing. The cutting of both good and bad players is paving the way for the future. Without cutting Andrews O'Hara and Seubert, there would be no hope of re-signing the team's top free agents in Ahmad Bradshaw, Kevin Boss and Steve Smith. It will still take some finesse, but in the end these cutbacks are going to be a good thing for Big Blue.

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