New York Giants 2011 Offseason Report Card
With the preseason now half over, the New York Giants and pretty much every other NFL team are finished making significant moves. At this point, it is safe to start having a look at the moves (or lack thereof) made by the New York Giants and decide if Jerry Reese did a decent job.
Many fans are angry over the perceived lack of action, but the few moves the Giants did make were significant. Having said that, they left some needs wide open, which hurt the otherwise smart choices.
Will the moves made by Jerry Reese be enough to get the Giants back to the playoffs in 2011?
Here is the final report card for the Giants' biggest moves (and non-moves) of the offseason.
Re-Signing Kevin Boothe
This is a move New York Giants fans really should be pleased about. No, he is not nearly as good as Rich Seubert and Shaun O'Hara, but he is less than half the price, much younger and meant to be a reserve.
The team cannot afford to have another injury debacle on the offensive line like last season, and retaining Boothe is an assurance that there will be a capable body waiting in the wings in case someone does go down.
He will be a valuable backup, and comes at the right price.
Releasing Shawn Andrews
The New York Giants had no choice but to make this move, and it was a good one. Shawn Andrews is a talented combo lineman, capable of playing both guard and tackle. However, at the price of $7.5 million when the team was already over the salary cap with important free agents unsigned, there was no way he could stay.
The Giants very much wanted to re-sign Ahmad Bradshaw and Matthias Kiwanuka, and that simply wouldn't be possible with Andrews on the roster. He is replaceable, injury-prone and way too expensive. He had to go.
Releasing Shaun O'Hara
This one wrenched the heart of every New York Giants fan when the news broke. The staple of the offensive line, team captain and NFLPA representative Shaun O'Hara became a salary cap casualty.
His age and injuries just did not justify his salary of $3.45 million. It is with a heavy heart that I rank this a good move. David Baas has some big shoes to fill.
Releasing Rich Seubert
Much the same as Shaun O'Hara, Rich Seubert became a victim of his own age, salary and body.
Last year's team MVP, as Jerry Reese dubbed him, was set to make $2.65 million in 2011. Like his fellow released lineman, he was unwilling to take a pay cut. It was sad to see him go, but the need to re-sign Ahmad Bradshaw and other NYG free agents was too high to keep anyone for sentimentality. Maybe he can be brought back for a cheaper price one day.
Signing David Baas
David Baas has been a staple on the San Fransisco 49ers O-line for a few seasons now. He is a capable center, and is able to move to guard when the situation demands it.
The most important thing about David Baas is his health; he hasn't missed a game for the San Fransisco 49ers in two seasons. An infusion of health is exactly what the New York Giants offensive line needs. Thirty-two started games in a row is more than most of the Giants' other offensive linemen combined.
He will be a serviceable replacement for Shaun O'Hara, and he is coming at a reasonable price. Offensive line signings are not flashy, but it is a necessary move.
Releasing Rocky Bernard/Re-Signing Rocky Bernard
There isn't much to say. Rocky Bernard was overpaid at $2.95 million, lazy and an underachiever. He brought virtually nothing to the defense, and his departure paved the way for 2010 draft pick Linval Joseph to see the field.
That was a great move by the New York Giants front office.
The move to bring him back is kind of a head-scratcher. The only positive things to note are that he took the pay cut they wanted him to take, and he provides a cheap reserve behind Joseph and Chris Canty. Personally, I think he should be fourth behind Marvin Austin. Time will tell.
Letting Barry Cofield Walk
This was a smart and necessary move. Barry Cofield was simply going to command too much money for the 2011 season—money the New York Giants would not have paid even if they wanted to keep him.
His departure paves the way for another, younger defensive tackle in rookie Marvin Austin to compete for playing time with Chris Canty and Linval Joseph.
However, Cofield went to the Washington Redskins, which is not a good thing by any stretch for the New York Giants.
Though Cofield is unlikely to perform well in Mike Shanahan's 3-4, you never want to see a solid free agent go to a division rival. Even so, re-signing Barry Cofield was never an option.
We'll all miss the "Tazer Dance."
Re-Signing Mathias Kiwanuka
Personally, I expected Jerry Reese to let Mathias Kiwanuka go. Given the state of things with Osi Umenyiora, it is probably a good thing that he didn't.
Mathias Kiwanuka brings a level of versatility that the Giants desperately need. He can rotate with Dave Tollefson and Jason Pierre-Paul as backup DE, but more importantly he will be playing outside linebacker on 1st and 2nd down. The rotation will allow Clint Sintim and Mark Herzlich to compete for the 3rd/4th-down job.
With the injuries to Terrell Thomas and Prince Amukamara possibly forcing Antrel Rolle into a cornerback job, the linebackers will need to be more dependable than was previously necessary.
Kiwanuka will need to prove that he's worth that new contract this year.
Letting Kevin Boss Go to the Oakland Raiders
Kevin Boss's departure is no good for the New York Giants, unless there was really no way to offer enough money to keep him. Granted, he got an offer to go to the Oakland Raiders for an amount that was well beyond his value or the Giants' reach, but it is their fault that it came to that.
They waited a while to extend him an offer, and it was likely a lowball even though the Raiders overpaid him. In all likelihood, Boss felt unwanted in New York.
With 35 catches, Boss was not a huge part of the passing game, but he was still a big body and a safety valve for Eli Manning. His ability in the blocking portion of the game is what the Giants will really miss, and that goes double for Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw.
The TEs now available are Travis Beckum, Bear Pascoe and Jake Ballard. While Beckum brings a good pair of hands and Pascoe is a capable blocker, they each only carry half of the TE game.
A trade for John Carlson of the Seattle Seahawks could go a long way, but I think everyone would rather have Boss.
Re-Signing Deon Grant
Prior to the end of the NFL lockout, nobody really thought the New York Giants would be bringing veteran safety Deon Grant back into the fold. Perry Fewell had planned to use Terrell Thomas as his third safety in the three-safety set while Prince Amukamara filled the nickel role. When Amukamara went down, those plans took a hit.
Re-signing Deon Grant not only afforded the Giants another veteran presence in the secondary, but kept the versatility of the triple safety formation a reality.
With the injury to Terrell Thomas, this signing becomes even more fruitful as Antrel Rolle will possibly be called upon to play starting cornerback opposite Corey Webster, which is only possible with Grant there to fill his safety shoes.
Grant has shown the heart of a true blue Giants loyalist, as he allegedly turned down offers from several teams including the Philadelphia Eagles, in order to remain with the New York Giants.
He will be a key piece in keeping the injury-devastated secondary intact.
The NFL draft was immensely successful for the New York Giants, and quite possibly the highlight of the offseason.
Things got off to a rip-roaring start with the drafting of Prince Amukamara at No. 19 overall. Amukamara was projected as a possible top-10 pick, and his falling to the Giants in the first round was just too sweet to pass up.
Things continued to look bright with the drafting of Marvin Austin in Round 2, who would have been a first-round talent if not for character concerns. He has looked magnificent in training camp and solid in the preseason.
Jerrel Jernigan was taken as a reserve project wide receiver in the third round, and as possible help on special teams.
Jerry Reese stocked the team with young talent at several key positions, especially given that Jernigan can return kicks.
Mark Herzlich gets an honorable mention here, as the team's top 2011 undrafted free agent. The cancer survivor from Boston College has widely been heralded as one of the best undrafted free agents of this year's class. His help at linebacker will be great for the Giants' beleaguered corps.
This draft class will have a massive impact on the organization for years to come.
Signing Steve Weatherford
Steve Weatherford might as well be the Messiah as far as New York Giants fans are concerned. Matt Dodge earned the ire and hatred of many New York fans in 2010 with his consistent errors and nervous play.
Weatherford had a great tenure as the New York Jets punter, and is similar to ex-Giant Jeff Feagles in leg strength and accuracy.
With his arrival, Matt Dodge is on the roster bubble, likely to be gone. Weatherford will be a breath of fresh air for special teams.
Re-Signing Ahmad Bradshaw
Nothing needs to be said about the move to retain Ahmad Bradshaw. It was necessary, and it was fantastic. With the apparent interest Bradshaw was receiving from the Miami Dolphins, some fans had already resigned the New York Giants to losing him when this signing was announced.
The Giants got him for a steal at four years for $18 million, and kept one of the league's best one-two backfield punches intact.
Failing To Trade Osi Umenyiora
Osi Umenyiora has been nothing but a headache this offseason for the New York Giants. After joining the anti-trust lawsuit against the league just to draw attention, Osi has proceeded to whine and complain for the duration of this off/preseason.
Aside from the facts of his issue with the New York Giants organization, it is clear that Osi Umenyiora will not be staying with the team beyond his contractual obligation. As such, it seemed as though the intelligent move would be to trade Osi for a draft pick and maybe a player.
Personally, I would have liked to see a deal that sent Umenyiora to the Seattle Seahawks for a conditional 2012 pick and tight end John Carlson. Carlson is a similar build and skill set to Kevin Boss and would come at the veteran minimum of $900,000.
The front office appears to have shut the door on a possible Umenyiora deal, which seems strange since Jason Pierre-Paul is a capable replacement. The Giants would have done well to get some future value out of Osi rather than just let him walk, but with each passing day his trade value drops.
Jerry Reese should have pulled the trigger on this one earlier.
Please note, the Steve Smith departure did not make this list because it was not under the control of the New York Giants. The team made an offer to Smith in accordance with his health, and he chose the better financial deal with the rival Philadelphia Eagles, not giving New York a chance to make a counter offer.
Overall, the only true blunders of the offseason were allowing Kevin Boss to walk and failing to trade the headache that Osi Umenyiora has become.
Though the Giants have angered many fans with their appearance of not making an effort, the front office did the best job it could with what it had.
With little cap maneuvering room, they managed to largely keep the 2010 roster intact at the cost of making big flashy improvements. Jerry Reese and Tom Coughlin clearly have faith in the talent developed in-house.
They just might be right.
New York Giants Offseason Final Grade: B