With the NFL lockout rumored to end any day now its time to think about free agency and in the New York Giants point of view, who shall return? The Giants have a number of quality players who are free agents to be once the lockout ends, Giants general manager Jerry Reese will have his hands full
The long list includes running backs Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw, defensive tackle Barry Coefield, wide receiver Steve Smith, tight end Kevin Boss, defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka, and wide receiver/kick returner Dominic Hixon (there are several other players but these are going to be the key players the Giants will look to re-sign first).
If the Giants want to return to one of the premiere rushing attacks then they must figure out a way to re-sign both Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs. Last season Bradshaw and Jacobs combined for over 2,000 yards rushing as well as 17 combined touchdowns. If the Giants resign them both, then Thunder and Lighting will strike again.
Defensive tackle Barry Coefield is entering his sixth season in the NFL. Coefield has been one of the most consistent players for the Giants throughout his five year career. Coefield has never missed a game due to injury and has averaged 42.2 tackles (solo and assisted) in his career. Coefield has stated he wants to return to the Giants, but he also would like to see his value and work free agency. The Giants also took back to back defensive players in the first two round of this years draft.
Steve Smith has spent four years with the New York Giants, and when healthy has been one of the most reliable receivers in the game. Unfortunately for Smith and the Giants, staying healthy has been a concern. Last season Smith's numbers took a steep drop from his 2009 breakout season. Smith battled injuries which cost him to miss a total of 7 games and only being able to record 48 receptions for 529 yards and 3 touch downs.
The Giants should try to re sign the former USC star, but if they can't reach an agreement there are several other young wideouts waiting in the wings. Hakeem Nicks has proven he can be a star wide receiver recording over 1,000 yards last year even tho he missed 3 games due to injury. Mario Manningham last season made some huge plays, including a touchdown reception over 90 yards. Other wide outs who would hopefully step up include Derick Hagan, Rames Barden, and Devin Thomas.
Kevin Boss has been one of the Giants most successful and underrated player. Boss has had an amazing career so far with the Giants even if his stats do not back up his case. Boss has never come close to a 1,000 yard season or double digit touchdowns, but he was a key to the Giants playoff run and Super Bowl victory over the Patriots in his rookie season filling in for the injured Jeremy Shockey.
Boss is also a great blocker and can become a top tier pass catching tight end when asked to. Unfortunately for Boss he is rarely asked to catch the ball in Tom Coughlin's run first offensive scheme. This may put a damper on the Giants success of trying to re-sign boss because he may look to play elsewhere so he can become a major part in a teams' offense.
The biggest question mark of the Giants free agents is defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka. Kiwanuka has had a strange career so far with the Giants. He has been a backup defensive end, a starting linebacker, a backup defensive end again, a starting defensive end, and then finally returning to a back defensive end.
Kiwanuka has played tremendously wherever he's used but circumstances including injuries, other players taking away his job and/or playing time, has derailed his career with the Giants. Kiwanuka was headed for a career best season last year recording 11 tackles (9 solo) and four sacks through the fist 3 games last year. Unfortunately, Kiwaunka then recieved a season ending injury with a herniated cervical disk in his neck.
Reese knows this will be the hardest call of all, Kiwanuka has played phenomenal when he's healthy but throughout his five year career Kiwanuka has been injury prone. Reese has stated he wants to keep the young defensive end but the most he is willing to give him is a one year deal.
Other Giants free agents include Chase Blackburn, Kevin Boothe, Deon Grant, Keith Bullock, Derek Hagan, Domenik Hixon, Michael Johnson, Bear Pascoe, Jim Sorgi, Darius Reynaud, Dave Tollefson, DJ Ware, Gerris Wilkinson, Courtney Brown, Michael Clayton, and James Meredith.
Who do you think the Giants will re-sign? Who do you hope they re-sign? Leave a comment below or respond via twitter @arigilberg