Let the Most Important Off-Season in Recent Memory Begin

Late to the party as usual, I am here to talk about the recent moves made by teetering GM Jerry Reese, all of which serve as a precursor for a HUGE off-season by the Giants.  With an already large amount of cap space available, Reese and the Giants cut both obsolete LT Will Beatty and oft-injured G Geoff Schwartz, in addition to reaping the cap benefits of a Jon Beason retirement.

Quick tangent:  People may want to use the perceived failures of these moves as more fuel to the “Jerry Reese Stinks Fire”–a fire which I have been known to frequently nurture– but they are among the more textbook moves a GM can make and I can’t fault him for the failures.  Beatty is an example of a franchise Left Tackle getting paid.  Anchoring the blind side during a Super Bowl run can get you money from any franchise with even the barest of assets.  His untimely injuries, large cap-hit, and the emergence of rookie Ereck Flowers at the LT position are ultimately why he is out.

Geoff Schwartz was a signing in response to one of the most putrid offensive seasons I have seen from the Giants.  Much of their offensive futility in 2013 was placed on an amateur offensive line, and Reese tried to answer the call that off-season by signing hogs like Schwartz and drafting Weston Richburg.  Richburg has turned out to be a STUD, and while Schwartz was a serviceable lineman, two fractures to the same ankle in each of his two seasons cost him his Giants uniform.

Jon Beason is an interesting case: the former All-Pro had his career fortune turn due to debilitating knee injuries towards the end of his Carolina tenure.  So while the oars of the Giants ship were snapping amidst the 2013 super storm, Reese promptly utilized “low risk, high reward” by shipping a 7th rounder to Carolina for the services of Beason.  Beason promptly led the Giants in tackles his first game as a member of Big Blue, and while his talent and savvy were never questioned, recommendations from doctors forced him into retirement due to chronic knee injuries.  While this move was arguably the least successful amongst the three, the pick sent to Carolina was without value–both relative to the NFL and relative to Jerry Reese’s late-round track record–and the Giants could now cut Beason despite his contract extension without much consequence in terms of dead money.  Additionally, most Giant fans know that Beason’s Linebacker position is one the Giants have completely devalued under Reese–just figured I would remind people that to chum the waters.

Anyway, the moves have created an additional $11.75 million in space for the Giants, bringing the total available money as of today (because the cap is reportedly expected to rise to $155M) to $53 million.  The rumored jump of nearly $12 million league wide could potentially give the Giants $65 million in free money.  Money to throw at anyone who can sack, tackle and block, or just money to give as a handout to the street free agent who can run into teammates, miss tackles and drop touchdowns, whichever JR prefers.

Sadly, that money only accounts for maneuvers in free agency; the upcoming draft could turn out to be the most important one for the Giants since, well last seasons, considering they have STUNK for the past three seasons.

We all know Jerry Reese’s early draft record to be PUTRID.  As if there weren’t enough damning stats on his drafting competence, he has NEVER re-signed a first round pick.  Here is to hoping Prince Amukamara breaks that trend, as opposed to the guy who blew his strong hand off.  I’ve spoken at length before about the perennial playoff teams drafting and retaining players with new contracts/extensions, a model the Giants just cannot seem to follow. It would be wise to start following it this season by locking up Prince, who when healthy has served as a nice compliment to DRC.

As for other impending free agents on the Giants roster, I would prefer to see Robert Ayers retained.  His price won’t be too high, and I would not be upset if we threw some cash his way as a reward for his pass rushing performance towards the end of the season/having all of his digits on each hand.  As for Jason Pierre-Paul, unless he wants to play with a contract significantly below the franchise-tag hit…403-Django-Unchained-quotes

While Reese hasn’t been below average in free agency, there is simply too few difference making players in free agency to be punting drafts for five consecutive years.  Thankfully, I am sacrificing small animals and praying to whatever God will answer that the Giants past three drafts have staying power cautiously optimistic that past three drafts will help anchor the Giants for years to come.  Players like Hankins, Pugh, Beckham, Richburg, Kennard, Flowers, Collins should serve as cornerstones for the foreseeable future, while we still wait and still with with Berhe, Jackson and Owa.

A good question to ask is how  we figure which need to draft and which need to sign via free agency.  Two measurements: Team need and availability.  The Giants need many, many players, so being picky about how we get them isn’t a luxury we are afforded at this point in time.  The defensive side of the ball needs the most attention.  If the Giants can walk away from the draft with one premium pass rusher, one complimentary pass rusher and two linebackers, I would spend the duration of training camp doing cartwheels.  With the tenth pick in the draft, you should for a tier 1, premium, top-notch, every-other-fucking-word-to-describe-a-stud pass rusher.  It is as simple as that.  Unless the second coming of Randy Moss makes himself available at pick ten, you find a guy who can get the other quarterback.  And you will probably have to take another one with a similar skill set at pick 40.  But beyond those two picks, add depth at linebacker, unless you prefer watching Mark Herzlich in coverage and Uani Unga miss tackles.

The issue of availability is one that is more often seen in free agency, but can be also present in the draft.  Reaching for players in the draft to fulfill a team need can be a dicey proposition, and one that the Giants seldom have taken.  The “Best player-available” approach has been the one most often employed by the Giants draft team, but this year’s draft will prove to be a combination of grabbing the best-player available to fix a glaring team need.  As for free agency, their is a limited number of impact players, and even fewer generational players to hit the open market.  People can salivate over the availability of Von Miller, but Denver would be at 6’s and 7’s to let the Super Bowl MVP walk.  Even the second best available player at that position, Mo Wilkerson, won’t sniff the market this year.  The Franchise Tag can be a wonderful thing sometimes.

There is some availability by the way of edge defenders and pass rushers.  Would the Giants have to overpay for someone like Olivier Vernon or Malik Jackson?  More than likely.  But with all the cap space the Giants have, forking over $7-$10 million on a per year basis for one of those rush specialists, with a minimal year one cap hit, wouldn’t be bad.

The same relative overpay could be used to acquire players a bit older such as Reggie Nelson or Eric Weddle.  The gaping hole at the Free Safety position makes it such that production rather than age determine who the Giants sign.

As stated before, the Giants have such pressing needs that the higher end of that payment range may be the only option for a team with a franchise quarterback with presumably four years left to win the Giants another Super Bowl.

I could literally go on all day about potential moves for the Giants this off-season, but I’ll say some football talk for when free agency actually roles around.  For now, here is a complete list of NFL free agents to whet your appetite.

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