In the aftermath of the New York Giants' inability to defend its Super Bowl crown; Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN New York takes a look at the New York Giants' 2013 free agent class, in order to see who may be re-signed and who may not. His unofficial list includes 26 players, including 18 unrestricted free agents.
On Monday, as reported by Giants.com, New York's general manger Jerry Reece indicated at the team's press conference that he was disappointed in the play of New York's defense in particular, and mentioned that the team will be looking into free agency this spring in order to bolster the roster.
Big Blue's general manager said, "I don’t think we’re that far off, to be honest with you. This team will look different next year, but I think we’ll have a good core of players coming back and I think we can see what we can do in free agency in the offseason."
Here's what Youngmisuk had to say about unrestricted free agents on the defensive side of the ball:
DE Osi Umenyiora -- Won't rule out return but sounds ready to move on.
S Kenny Phillips -- Would like to see him back but for right price.
LB Chase Blackburn -- Solid vet is an asset but is NYG ready to go with Mark Herzlich?
LB Keith Rivers -- When healthy, showed glimpses of speed and athleticism.
DT Rocky Bernard -- Cheap and reliable but Marvin Austin needs snaps.
CB Justin Tryon -- Invite to camp?
DT Shaun Rogers -- Blood clot kept him out of '12.
CB Brian Witherspoon -- Has to come back from another ACL tear.
And on restricted free agent:
S Stevie Brown -- The surprise of 2012 could be starting safety next season.
The odds of Umenyiora coming back are slim to none, and his situation is eerily reminiscent of what the Giants went through with Brandon Jacobs last year. A player, who doesn't realize that he is in a good situation, yet has a limited market for his services. But that player believes his value is more on the open market than what it turns out to be.
Chances are high that some team will sign Umenyiora to a multi-year contract that sounds better than it actually is, because the two or three year deal will not be guaranteed. And there will be two types of suitors for his services. First, a woebegone franchise looking for some Super Bowl magic to rub off on it, or secondly, a playoff contender who thinks that Umenyiora can put them over the top.
In either case, the team who signs him will be disappointed. Instead, the Giants should commit to having Mathias Kiwanuka play defensive end exclusively next season, as well as giving some game action to Adrian Tracy, Adele Ojomo, and Justin Trattou.
Kenny Phillips is an interesting case because the Giants' defense has played better with him on the field than without him, but his constant knee problems would dictate that the team shy away from re-signing him. The suitors for his services are not unlike those for Umenyiora, and if the knees hold up, that team will be getting a quality football player. But the health questions don't make this a gamble worth taking for New York.
In the case of Giants' middle linebacker Chase Blackburn, the G-men should attempt to re-sign him. Put down the stop watch, and just watch the game film, and see that this guy just makes plays. He is a capable quarterback on defense, and if he were surrounded with other quality linebackers, then there would likely be no question about his play.
And backup Mark Herzlich has not shown that he can be trusted being handed the starting job yet. On the other hand, if Herzlich wins the job in presseason, that becomes a different story. But that is not a gamble worth taking at this point because other non-productive players should be shown the door.
And with what it will take to re-sign Rivers, Big Blue should just part ways with him and call it a day. Probably the same goes for Rocky Bernard because instead of a hometown discount, these players may want to be compensated based upon what they already accomplished when healthy. But neither is what can be considered a playmaker, and don't contribute nearly enough to make a long-term investment in.
Tryon, Rogers and Witherspoon could be brought back to see if there's anything left in the tank during training camp, but the fact is that some of these players are blocking the path of younger, and potentially, more productive players.
But based upon the words of GM Reece yesterday, the Giants seem ready to commit to a playmaking linebacker early in the draft this year, which may mean the team will look for secondary help in the free agent market.
One player whose name is not on the free agent list, but is sure to be brought up for discussion this off season is cornerback Corey Webster. According to multiple reports, Webster has a salary of $7 million for 2013, and it is not likely that the Giants would be willing to fork over that much cash to him at this point in his career.
Webster had an up and down season, and he was consistently picked apart by the Baltimore Ravens' Joe Flacco in a week 16 matchup.