2011 NFL Free Agency: After Re-Signing Bradshaw, 5 Moves the Giants Must Make
As a New York Giants fan, it's been frustrating watching teams such as the Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers and St. Louis Rams acquire big-name free agents while the Giants—for the most part—have stayed pat.
Limited because its team salary is over the 2011 salary cap—ESPN's John Clayton estimates that the Giants are $6.1 million over the salary cap—New York has been forced to sit and watch as other NFC contenders have made drastic moves to improve their teams.
Aside from the re-signings of Ahmad Bradshaw (four years, $18 million) and Mathias Kiwanuka (undisclosed), and the acquisition of former San Francisco 49ers center David Baas (five years, $26 million), the Giants have done nothing to improve a team that missed the playoffs for the second straight year in 2010.
Additionally, New York has yet to reach a deal with free agents Steve Smith and Kevin Boss, whom have been key components of the Giants' offense in recent years, and with Osi Umenyiora looking for a bigger contact, the Giants may be without one of their top pass rushers from last year.
With that said, there are still plenty of talented free agents available for the Giants to target. Of course, the Giants will have to sign them at a relatively low price.
With pressing needs at tight end, linebacker and offensive line, New York must acquire players can come in and provide the team with youth, talent, and most importantly, depth.
Here are five moves the Giants must make this offseason.
Re-Sign TE Kevin Boss
I know Kevin Boss isn't an elite playmaker.
He's not as fast as Vernon Davis or Jermichael Finley.
He doesn't have the hands of a Dallas Clark or Antonio Gates—Boss dropped 11 passes last season, the second most by a tight end.
He isn't as great of a blocker as Alge Crumpler or Heath Miller, although Boss is greatly improving in pass protection.
And he isn't as great of a route runner as Jason Witten.
But what Boss provides the Giants with is invaluable.
Since he entered the league in 2007, Boss has provided Eli Manning with a safety blanket, someone who Manning could trust to find open on third-down and red zone situations.
Sure, Boss had a somewhat disappointing 2010 season. Pro Football Focus rated Boss' performance in 2010 as a -2.9. But at just 27-years-old, Boss has the has the ability to improve, and has already shown that he can be an effective tight end.
Plus, if New York passes on Boss, who is going to be its starting tight end in 2011?
And don't even try to persuade me that Ben Patrick or Bear Pascoe are capable of being a team's No. 1 tight end. That's just not happening.
Release QB Sage Rosenfels
Don't get me wrong—I really like Sage Rosenfels as Eli Manning's backup.
He is a quality player, who is more than capable of filling in for a starting quarterback, and provides the team with veteran leadership.
But, for a team that is struggling to get under the $120 million salary cap, there is no need to be paying a backup quarterback/place kick holder $3 million.
With the recent signing of David Carr, who is familiar with the Giants' system from having played in New York from 2008 to 2009, I don't expect Rosenfels to stick around for much longer.
Sign OLB Rocky McIntosh
I'm glad that Jerry Reese has confidence in Clint Sintim. Because I don't.
At a press conference on April 21, Reese told reporters that he expects Sintim to emerge as one of the Giants' starting outside linebackers in 2011.
This prompts me to ask a question. Does Reese actually believe that Sintim can make a quantum leap in his third year, or is he just hoping that his second round pick from the 2009 NFL Draft isn't a complete bust?
From what Sintim has shown in his two years with the Giants, I'm leaning toward the latter.
Not exactly the production you'd hope to see from a former second round pick, huh?
So, why are we trusting Sintim—who is coming off a major knee surgery—to emerge as a solid linebacker in his third season in the NFL when he has done nothing in his previous two seasons to indicate the he can be a consistent three down linebacker?
The answer is: we shouldn't be.
Instead let's focus on signing Rocky McIntosh, a 28-year-old linebacker who has the athleticism and versatility to switch over to the strong side, and play alongside Jonathan Goff and Michael Boley.
McIntosh, who struggled last year as an inside linebacker in the Redskins 3-4 scheme, runs well and is among the best tackling outside linebackers in the game.
Additionally, his combination of size and quickness allows him to be effective in coverage, something that the Giants' linebackers have struggled with in recent years.
McIntosh would be a big upgrade over Sintim, and would immediately provide the Giants with much needed depth at the linebacker position.
Release Matt Dodge
Matt Dodge has one of the best legs in the NFL.
But guess what?
I don't care.
I'd rather have Chris Bryan as our punter—of the 36 punters who punted 10 or more times in 2010, Bryan is the only one who failed to record an average of more than 40 yards per punt—then have Dodge back in New York for another season.
At least with Bryan, you'd know what you're going to get.
With Dodge, it's a relief if he just catches the ball, let alone punts it.
Sure, he had some great punts—this one against the Redskins was the best—but he also shanked numerous punts, and crushed low line drives that resulted in big returns.
In 2010, Dodge finished third behind Nick Harris and Britton Colquitt for the most punt return yards allowed (535) and surrendered a NFL worst two touchdowns off punt returns.
Yeah, I'll take my chances with Steve Weatherford.
Sign Jared Gaither
On July 30, multiple outlets reported that free agent Jared Gaither and the Oakland Raiders had agreed to a contract.
However, ESPN's John Clayton later refuted those reports, tweeting the Raiders decided not to sign Gaither.
Since then, much speculation has ensued about the current condition of Gaither's back, which kept him from playing all of last season. Not many teams have expressed an interest in signing him.
With that said, the Giants would be stupid not to offer Gaither a one-year deal worth around $1.5 million.
Look, I understand that he isn't completely healthy right now, and may even start the season on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. But if by some chance he is healthy by September, or even November, then the Giants will have one of the best left tackles in the league for $1.5 million.
That's half of what Sage Rosenfels made last season!
Not only would the addition of Gaither drastically improve the left side of the Giants' offensive line, but it would add depth to an offensive line that is thin at tackle.
At just 25-years-old, Gaither has already proven that he can be an elite tackle in this league.
From 2008 to 2010, Gaither pass blocked on a total of 1,006 snaps. Of the 1,006 snaps Gaither pass-blocked on, he allowed just 39 total pressures on the quarterback and finished with a pass-blocking efficiency rate of 3.06—the third best among tackles from 2008 to 2010, according to Pro Football Focus.