For many, it's still too early to focus on the offseason. The NFL playoffs are ramping up, story lines are still developing and the Super Bowl is a mere three weeks away. Unfortunately, for New York Giants fans, February 4th can not get here fast enough. Big Blue fell tremendously short of their goals in 2012, as they finished out of the playoffs for the third time in four seasons. The team is currently $4.7 million over the salary cap and has 27 free agents to make decisions on this offseason. Although there is talent on the roster, general manager Jerry Reese as some franchise-altering decision to make before the team steps on the field in 2013.
Every decision that Reese makes this offseason will have a domino effect. First and foremost, the team must restructure the salaries of several players who had questionable 2012 campaigns. Corey Webster is on the books for $7.5 million, Chris Snee is owed $6.45 million, David Bass is under contract for $4.25 million, while Chris Canty ($6.25 million), Michael Boley ($4.25 million) and Justin Tuck ($4 million) all underperformed this season.
After some cap room is cleared, getting Victor Cruz under contract is going to be a tumultuous task. Cruz was productive in this season, but he proved he's not a No.1 receiver that can line up on the outside and play against a physical cornerback. With Hakeem Nicks on the field, Cruz can get into the slot and make plays. However, No. 80 disappeared at times this season. He's going to be retained, but he's not going to get the $10 million per year contract he desires. It may take Cruz a while to realize that this offseason.
There's really no easy decision to make in terms of who to get rid of. In the aforementioned group of players, every single one has been a key influence in winning at least one Super Bowl. It's hard to cut someone that's been to the promised land and delivered results far beyond anyone's wildest expectations. However, the NFL, and sports in general, is an ever-evolving industry in which change is sometimes necessary. Change is coming in 2013, we're only three weeks away from getting a preliminary notion of how Big Blue's roster will look next season.
One change that fans should be expecting is the departure of linebacker Michael Boley. The Giants are squeezed for cap space, and Boley disappeared down the final stretch of 2012. His performance declined, his playing times was reduced and Spencer Paysinger began seeing more time at weakside linebacker. Boley lack of production could be just as much a product of defensive coordinator Perry Fewell's system as it is his natural decline. However, given the current salary cap situation, it makes little sense to keep a guy who can be adequately replaced for cheap.
It's still too early to tell where Jerry Reese is going to take the team this offseason. However, it's almost certain that next year's roster will be missing a few household names that have won a Lombardi Trophy in New York. It's unfortunate, but the NFL is a business and the Giants can no longer dwell on 2007 and 2011. They failed to achieve their goals in every way, shape and form in 2012. Uncertainty is looming in the near future, but it's the kind of uncertainty that could bring some good change to this roster.
Also…Chris Canty, Chris Snee, Corey Webster, Football, free agent, Hakeem Nicks, Jerry Reese, Justin Tuck, Michael Boley, New York, New York Giants, NFL, NFL Playoffs, Perry Fewell, Victor Cruz
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