The New York Giants capped off a remarkable season with a victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI, bringing home the Lombardi trophy for the fourth time in franchise history. However, there are several questions that need to be answered for Big Blue that affect the team’s immediate future.
There are several free agents on the roster, including Super Bowl hero, Mario Manningham, offensive lineman Kareem McKenzie, defensive backs Terrell Thomas, Deon Grant, Aaron Ross, and Derrick Martin, defensive linemen Dave Tollefson and Rocky Bernard, punter Steve Weatherford, linebackers Jonathan Goff and Chase Blackburn, as well as special teams returners Devin Thomas and Will Blackmon. Not to mention Osi Umenyiora is entering the final year in his contract.
So where do the G-Men go from here? This is a question that has been on the mind of GM Jerry Reese for quite some time, but have no fear, Giants fans. The fact that the man has already brought two Super Bowls to the Big Apple in his short tenure clearly proves his status as an elite GM in the NFL today, and will make the right decisions. But what decisions will he make?
In the grand scheme of things, Mario Manningham is expendable. With the emergence of Victor Cruz as a big play threat and the impressive skills of Hakeem Nicks, the Giants simply cannot afford to pay all three of these receivers at the moment, since the rest of the roster is littered with free agents. Although Manningham has said that he wants to stay in New York, it is unrealistic that the Giants will resign him, as they are going to have to pay Nicks and Cruz (the assumed starting Wide Receiver tandem for 2012) within the coming years. Since Manningham would unquestionably be the Giants number 3 receiver, they will probably have to look elsewhere for a more inexpensive option to fill the role, but could very well do so from within the organization, as rookie Jerrell Jernigan showed some speed and elusiveness in his first season as a pro.
As far as the other free agents are concerned, the Giants have several situations that need to be addressed. After missing all of the championship season due to injury, pro bowl cornerback Terrell Thomas and linebacker Jonathan Goff will most likely return with one year contracts to make sure they are back to form, so expect both of these guys to be back in blue in 2012 with little damage to the team’s expenses.
Moving down the line, signing offensive lineman Kareem McKenzie is essential, as the Giants have been getting thin in the trenches over the last two seasons. Although McKenzie is aging, he still provides Eli Manning with good enough protection to earn himself a new deal. Assuming the Giants draft some offensive line help, McKenzie will also be a valuable mentor for young talent.
The rest of the defensive back situation is a little unclear. Deon Grant, like McKenzie, is no youngster, so it is tough to think that the Giants will re-sign him to more than a one or two year deal if at all. Although he picked it up down the stretch, Aaron Ross had an overall disappointing season filling in for the injured Terrell Thomas. Having drafted Prince Amukamara in the first round last year, it is tough to figure Ross will be back with the return of Thomas and the presence of Webster and Amukamara in the defensive backfield.
Tollefson and Bernard are almost locks to be resigned, as the Giants defensive line remained stout with these role players upping their game alongside an already talented front. Weatherford is a guarantee, since he made Giants fans forget all about the “Matt Dodge Debacle” from 2010 and had a fantastic season. Finally, Devin Thomas and Will Blackmon should be back with the team, but their status is uncertain as well with the presence of the young Jernigan as a promising returner. If they are resigned, it wouldn’t cost the Giants too much money.
Overall, although the Giants have many free agents, there is no need to worry. A majority of the group will return, and the losses of a few will be made up for. The Giants will be a legitimate contender to repeat as champions in 2012.