GIANTS LEFT WITH TOUGH DECISIONS
"The man who made the catch that arguably won Super Bowl XLVI very well may
not be a Giant in 48 hours.
And Mario Manningham could be joined by other playoff heroes who soon may be
Chase Blackburn saved the season with his fourth-quarter interception of Tom
Brady. But like Manningham, the linebacker will be a free agent Tuesday, when
the market opens for business.
And so will Devin Thomas, the hero of the NFC Championship game, when he
recovered two special teams fumbles that led to the conference title.
They are among the 20 unrestricted free agents — including five 2011 starters
as well as Terrell Thomas, Jonathan Goff and franchise-tagged punter Steve
Weatherford — the Giants could lose.
The defending champs aren't expected to be major players in the market,
instead looking to next month's draft to fill their holes. But they are under
the salary cap after releasing Brandon Jacobs and restructuring Eli Manning's
contract last week.
"We have some work to do," general manager Jerry Reese told reporters at the
scouting combine last month.
It likely will begin at tight end, running back and in the secondary.
Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum face a minimum of seven months of rehab and
may miss the season after both tight ends tore ACLs in the Super Bowl.
"Whether it's the draft or whatever, we're going to have to have some way of
compensating so that we have enough people in camp to be able to work," coach
Tom Coughlin said.
The termination of Jacobs' contract and the still-healing stress fracture in
Ahmad Bradshaw's right foot leave the Giants requiring another back.
Another issue facing them is Manningham.
The valuable receiver repeatedly has said that he wants to return to the
team. But he also wants to be paid as a No. 1 receiver. And the Giants simply
cannot afford that. They recently re-signed Domenik Hixon.
The Giants also have decisions to make regarding Terrell Thomas and Goff,
both of whom did not play in 2011 after tearing ACLs.
Terrell Thomas is regarded as one of the best cornerbacks in the NFC when
healthy, and Goff looked impressive in training camp last season.
But injuries can complicate the dance between free agents and teams. See
Steve Smith last summer.
Terrell Thomas appeared optimistic earlier this month that a deal would be
reached, but recent tweets indicate that might have changed.
"I'm getting excited, patience is gone, I just wanna know where to call home,
grind don't stop..." he wrote Thursday.
"All you can do is you have a plan. And the plan certainly does include those
two guys," Coughlin said. "How soon or whatever, that remains to be seen."
The secondary figures to see at least some changes with seven defensive backs
free to test the market.
They include cornerback Aaron Ross — who stepped in as a starter for Terrell
Thomas — and safety Deon Grant.
The offensive line also will look different after the Giants told right
tackle Kareem McKenzie they will not re-sign him.
But the Giants could decide to move David Diehl to the right side, or slip
James Brewer, a fourth-round pick last season, into the role."