By The Professor
Jerry has been a busy boy filling holes in the Giants 2012 roster. He still has an extensive punch-list of outstanding issues that require resolving before the start of the 2012 season. Below is a short list of the most pressing problems remaining.
The Mario Williams deal confirms Osi will not be a Giant long-term. Osi is one of the best sack specialists in the league. Either through Free Agency or viva a franchise tag, if Osi can stay healthy and keep his mouth shut, he will be getting a big bump in 2013. Compounding the problem of retaining Osi are the future contracts of Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre Paul. Those major components will soon require a big chunk of cap space and extended commitments.
Can the Giants afford to keep Osi past the 2012 season, and preserve enough cap to field a contender? For those not functionally adept at the use of string theory, the net answer is no.
If the Giants intend to retain Tuck and/or Paul, they will have to address Umenyoria carefully. For the Giants, the meal was great and now the check is due. A small handful of players from the 2007 Super Bowl squad remained on the 2011 Super Bowl squad. Transition from one squad to another is what General Managers do. Of course, there are a lot of little details, but managing transition most accurately defines the job. I fully expect that the Giants will trade Osi, most likely during the draft. I expect the Giants to draft a DE and add another rookie on to the Big Blue conveyer.
Other teams are aware of the Giants cap issues and can wait a year to compete for Osi’s services. Though, a contending team may trade a 3rd rounder for a 1-year rental, and 1st dibs on signing him to a long-term deal. Reese will explore this possibility.
Jerry was right to recognize the declining production in the play of Brandon Jacobs. A contagious toughness mixed with an almost bipolar intensity, also favor not retaining his services. Jacobs may return, as a stopgap, after getting a taste of his value on the open market. My guess is Jerry will not want to revisit those issues. The Giant system of player development dictates the “next man up”. Don’t expect Jerry to solve the uncertainty at RB in Free Agency. He will trust the process.
The loss of Mario Manninghan leaves the Giants without a stretch the field wide receiver. Jerrel Jernigan is more suited to play the slot. He remains unproven, after a rookie season, where his limited moments appeared to unnerve him. Ramses Barden has shown spurts, but has not proven he can remain healthy through a complete season. It may be too early to label him fragile, but it is getting pretty close. Nevertheless, Barden is a possession receiver and does not have the speed to stretch the field. Hixon has a multipurpose skill set, each of the lunch pale variety. He will, once again, compete for the job of 3rd receiver.
If the Giants intend to fully utilize their best player, Eli Manning, they must surround him with the full compliment of weapons. Yes, the Giants want to run the ball more proficiently, but they will rise and fall on Eli’s right arm. Without a stretch the field receiver, the Giants will be asking the most accurate deep thrower in the league to dink and dunk into ever tightening zones.
Since the Giants cannot afford a big-time WR in Free Agency, we will continue to see them kick the tires on guys like Kevin Ogletree.
They will have to use the draft to find speed and size at an affordable price. Of course, it would be completely out of character, yet if the Giants trade Osi and free some cap room, they could sign RFA/ WR Mike Wallace late in Free Agency for the 32nd pick.
Also demanding attention are the continuing issues along the offensive line. It appears starting RT Kareem McKenzie will be moving on. While the Giants added starting C David Baas in Free Agency last year, this is still a pretty thin group of overachievers. Can the Giants get by with cut and paste for another year? They must add to their OL inventory somehow and somewhere.
The Giants have been tinkering with linebacker position for years. The Free Agent signing of Boley and the conversion of Kiwanuka have mitigated the most glaring issues. Jacquian Williams has become a vital member of certain packages. Jones, Herzlich, and Paysinger, will get chances to grow. The only outstanding issue is who will start at MLB? This becomes less a concern with the evolution of slot safety relegating MLB to a situational role. Terrell Thomas has been re-signed for the slot and hopefully will return to his pre-injury form. The Giants probably stick with the status quo at LB. They will continue to kick the tires on second tier Free Agents. As usual, the Draft will be the principle method for resolving the most pressing needs.