With the 2011/12 NFL season still very much up in the air, it's difficult to speculate what a team may do in both free agency and the NFL Draft. It's especially difficult to speculate what the New York Giants may do, or what options they may eventually be left with, as General Manager Jerry Reese has gone on record stating the team will not sign anyone until a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is reached.
All of that aside, I've decided to take a quick look at what I believe are the top five offseason priorities facing the Big Blue Wrecking Crew.
#5 – Sign or Draft a Quality Tight End
Kevin Boss is a tough and talented tight end, but he's become a tad inconsistent in recent years. He'll go up and make a difficult catch and take a big hit, but there are times he also drops incredibly easy passes. In addition, his run blocking still leaves a bit to be desired.
With an already talented offsense, there is no telling how great this team could be with the addition of a Zach Miller, Owen Daniels or even a Kyle Rudolph. Of course, that would also mean offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride has to not only learn how to use a tight end, but remember to actually implement him.
#4 – Sign Wide Receiver Plaxico Burress
Don't laugh. Hear me out.
How could this possibly be a top five priority on a team littered with talent at wide receiver? Simple! When it comes to two extremely important games against the Philadelphia Eagles, the smaller crop of wideouts just aren't getting it done. In fact, the Giants haven't beaten the Eagles since Plaxico Burress was still in uniform.
Many will be quick to criticize this idea, citing past incidents with Burress both on and off of the field, but like Michael Vick before him, I've got to assume the man is humbled. The easiest way to make a person appreciate what they have is to take it away from them, and Burress has been stripped of his freedoms for longer than I feel he deserved…but that's a topic for another day.
In all likelihood, Burress isn't going to command a major contract. It might possibly be something as simple as a one-year, $1 million contract with incentives built in. After all, Burress isn't going to come out of prison in playing shape, and many teams will likely stay far away from him as they did with Vick. I just hope the Giants aren't one of those teams. Plax could easily come back and fill the role meant for Ramses Barden, and give the Giants a legitimate threat in the endzone once they cross into the green zone.
#3 – Re-Sign Wide Receiver Domenik Hixon
The last man to return a kickoff or punt for a touchdown? That would be Domenik Hixon.
I don't believe that any one man can make or break an entire unit, but the loss of Hixon in 2010 certainly proved how badly a team could suffer without a key part. More importantly, the loss of Hixon made us all realize just how important he really was.
Hixon likely won't come cheap to re-sign -at least not for a return specialist- but we all saw what happened without him. In order to retain the Akron alumni, the Giants will likely have to bump his salary up from $1.6 million to $2.2+ million. Maybe even a little more if another team really wants to acquire his services. Either way, it's worth it.
#2 – Re-Sign Barry Cofield
It shouldn't matter what sort of contract Cofield commands here in 2011, the Giants should give it to him and consider themselves lucky to have him.
I know there are a lot of lobbyists out there suggesting the Giants sign Albert Haynesworth, but he's of no greater value than Barry Cofield and comes with all sorts of extra baggage. It's a gamble that the player you sign ever remotely resembles his 2008-self, and it would cost a lot more than simply re-signing Cofield, who has progressively gotten better each and every year.
Cofield has been the most consistent defensive player for the Giants on a game-by-game basis and has earned every penny of the money he's going to get. And although pessimists will most certainly chalk a huge 2010 season up to it being a contract year, it's not different than Haynesworth's 2008 season. He got his money and flopped…I highly doubt Cofield will do the same thing.
#1 – Sign or Draft an Impact Linebacker
The thought of the Giants with a game-changing linebacker is almost enough to make me salivate.
With a thin draft class, I wouldn't expect the Giants to find such a linebacker there, so it's going to come down to free agency. Unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier, that's a huge question mark this year. Still, assuming all goes according to the ideal plan, there are plenty of solid linebackers for Big Blue to pick from.
At this point, I don't think it matters which linebacker position they add an impact player to, so long as they add one. Ideally, the main target would be Chad Greenway. If that turns out to be an unlikely addition, they could also re-focus their attention on Paul Posluszny, who I've always been a fan of and may come cheap, or possibly even someone like Tamba Hali, who has excelled playing a role similar to the one once set aside for Mathias Kiwanuka.
At the end of day, signing an impact linebacker is not only a priority, it's an absolute must.
Other Important Moves:
- Re-sign WR Steve Smith
- Re-Sign or replace S Deon Grant
- Find depth along the offensive line
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