Archive for the ‘2007 Free Agency’ Category

Wright Move?

Monday, April 16th, 2007

I’ve been pushing for the Giants to sign another quarterback as insurance if Eli gets hurt. But is signing eight year vet Anthony Wright the way to go? Everyone loves Jared Lorenzen, that Hefty Lefty, but anyone who thinks he’ll step in and run the offense is just kidding themselves. Don’t be fooled by preseason. Tim Hasselbeck has some experience and leadership qualities, but clearly lacks the physical skills for anything long term. While the Giants have recongnized they need a backup QB, I’m not sure they have accomplished it with this signing.

It’s a tough call, really. He has thrown twice as many passes in real games compared to Hasselbeck. And that means he has much more experience than Lorenzen. Hell, he has even started an NFL playoff game for the Ravens.

My feeling is Wright will have to make the roster in training camp, with three guys competing for two spots.

Free Agency Review

Thursday, April 12th, 2007

Back on February 25 I gave my free agency preview and promised a review before the draft. And delivers…

Okay so I can toot my own horn. The Giants handled free agency perfectly.  How you ask? They followed my suggestions almost to a “T”.

The lone exception was not re-upping kicker Jay Feely. Letting Feely go could be a mistake. Since that terribly frustrating Seattle game from 2005, where he missed three potential game winners, I never had the same confidence in Feely whenever he lined up for a kick. Still, over two seasons he hit 84% of his attempts.  Furthermore, in an upcoming season where the Giants could be in some tight games, a kicker can make all the difference.

The Giants then signed LB Kawika Mitchell, who I thought would be the best bang for their buck in a not-so-hot free agent field. If you read this blog (someone, anyone?) you know what I think about this move. Well done Jerry Reese.

Now there is even talk of signing a veteran backup QB, namely Jay Fiedler. The Giants need someone to be able to step in if Eli gets injured.

The one move I didn’t see coming was the trade that brought Rueben Droughns from Cleveland for a player who wasn’t going to make the team this year, WR Tim Carter. The Giants were extremely dissapointed in Carter, not stepping up last year when they needed him. Droughns will provide insurance in case Brandon Jacobs struggles in a starting role or is injured. He’ll also be a seven-10 carry relief pitcher. I still feel the Giants need a Dave Meggett-type, and hopefully they’ll look for one in the draft. A third-down back who can also double on kicks and punts.

Since free agency wasn’t anything to shake a stick at (and why no one should be predicting doom and gloom at this point), the draft does prove very important for the G-Men to replenish their roster with young talent. It will be Reese’s first draft as the top guy. I’m working on my preview and will have it in about a week.

Giants Sign Mitchell!!

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

And you ask why my excitment? I pushed for this guy back before free agency even started.

This is a real nice move by Jerry Reese. He gets a fairly young LB (at 27) with some upside. Kawika Mitchell took a one year deal for just $1 million (more on that later) which works for both sides. If Mitchell excels halfway thru the season, both parties can think about an extension. If he bombs, the Giants aren’t on the hook for anything. And the Giants get a productive player who doesn’t miss games. The plan is probably to move him to either strong side or weak side with Pierce staying in the middle.

Now some odd things about this. How can the Giants get a player like Mitchell (productive, not great) for such a bargain price? When you see average players (case study: Visanthe Shiancoe) getting huge money from other teams, I had to really doubt the reports that Mitchell was going to sign for this. Then I read today that Mitchell hadn’t even met Tom Coughlin or DC Steve Spagnuolo yet. Not the usual signing procedure by either party. Still, I really like this move.

So right now the Giants will line up Gerris Wilkinson (last year’s number three pick), Pierce, and Mitchell. That versus Emmons, Pierce, and Arrington. The latter might seem more imposing, but only when healthy. And that’s the trap the Giants fell into last year. I believe they’ll be better off in 2007.

Giants Turn Away Broncos’ Wilson

Sunday, March 25th, 2007

This past Friday, it was hot news that the Giants were about to acquire MLB Al Wilson from the Denver Broncos. There were various rumors about what the trade involved, but getting Wilson would have given the linebacking corp a shot in the arm. Unfortunately, Wilson reportedly failed a physical and that ended any hope of a deal for the five time Pro Bowler.

This exercise proved very interesting to me. GM Jerry Reese let go Arrington, Emmons, and Petitgout due to the fact these players were injury prone. I think its common knowledge that team physicals are very subjective. If a team wants a player enough, he’ll pass the physical. Take Arrington. The guy passed his, but couldn’t even practice come training camp. He was a china doll waiting to break. I think this is where Reese’s leadership is showing. I am almost sure that if Acorsi was the GM, Wilson would be a Giant.

The last thing I want to see is the Giants acquiring another player past his prime and being released a season later. Perhaps Reese is on to something. Let the young guys (Wilkinson, Torbor, etc.) finally get a chance instead of being blocked by veteran stopgaps. Don’t get me wrong, if you can get a player via trade or free agency that can help, by all means do it. But no stogaps, please.

Offer Sheet To Vonta Leach

Tuesday, March 20th, 2007

The Giants have extended an offer to fullback Vonta Leach, who played with Houston last year. Leach is a restricted free agent, but if the Houston does not match, the Giants will not owe any compensation due to the fact Leach was undrafted and offered the league minimum by Houston.

It’s an interesting move. Fullback wasn’t one of the areas I pegged as a need area, and you’d have to figure Jim Finn did a decent job of blocking over the past three years – the Giants’ rushing attack as been among the best in the league. But surfing around the Net today I kept getting the same impression: Leach is a very, very physical player, and perhaps this is what the Giants are looking for.  One thing is for sure, the Giants will get younger: Leach is just 25, Finn checks in at 30. If Leach does indeed sign with us, it would almost certainly end Finn’s career as a Giant. No way will the Giants carry two fullbacks on next year’s roster. Interesting note: Leach started as a linebacker in the pros, before moving to fullback. Keep Finn and move Leach to LB……nahhhhhh. 

This signing is on the heels of the revelation that the Giants did not exactly have as much cap room as initially reported. The cap is still a big mystery to me, and apparently everyone else. $20 million was the initial number when free agency started and now we find out it was more like $10 million, further reduced to around $7 million by tendered contracts to our own restricted FA’s. Not to mention the money needed to sign those guys called draft picks come April.

Droughns Acquired By Giants

Friday, March 9th, 2007

The Giants made their first significant move of the 2007 offeason by acquring the 28-year old Reuben Droughns from Cleveland for the dissapointing, enigmatic, and injury prone Tim Carter.

The move provides a veteran presence to the running back position and insurance in case BJ doesn’t adjust to his anticipated bigger role in the offense. I was hoping for a back more in the Tiki mold; Droughns is more like Jacobs…a banger. But as we know, Jacobs can also take it the distance and I’ve read Droughns can accelerate once he gets into that second tier. Droughns also has good hands and can help in the passing game. His worst year was last season, so let’s hope it was just the culture and not a sign of diminishing returns.

Was this better than getting Dominic Rhodes, who went to the Raiders? Droughns is signed for three years and comes in this year at almost $2 mil less than Rhodes.  I checked out Rhodes stats on over his entire career. Droughns to me has been a better individual performer, but hasn’t played on a team as successful as the Colts. Consequently, I think Rhodes is preceived the better back. I think they are pretty close. Hell, they both even have been DWI’d in the last year.

I still wouldn’t be surprised if the Giants nab a “scat back” sometime on draft day, even on the second day. 

Schwartz On The Giants

Friday, March 9th, 2007

Paul Schwartz, who covers the Jints for the New York Post, was on the WFAN morning show talking about the G-Men:

The Giants and Jerry Reese are through with players past their prime years and/or injury prone. See Arrington, Emmons, and Barret Green in particular.

They cut loose Petitgout, due to make $5 mil this year, without even trying to renegotiate first.

David Diehl was the fallback plan at left tackle at the time of Luke’s release. The Giants wanted to sign someone. Guy Whimper, the current backup tackle, made the team last year only because he was a backup. My thoughts: I believe it. As I remember, he played a few positions in his college career and was/is a project. And thank God the Cowboys got to Leonard Davis with their bag of loot before he visited the Giants. They wayyyy over paid for him.

Schwartz (like myself) thinks the Giants need a veteran backup QB. He says the Giants think Manning doesn’t need the mentoring type, but I want a vet in case Manning gets injured.

Finally, he predicted (facetiously) the Giants will sign someone…..

Feely’s A Fish

Thursday, March 8th, 2007

I mean that, literally. He signed today with the Miami Dolphins.

 So the Giants let an experienced kicker go, who made 84% of his kicks over two seasons. What I’ve been reading around the ‘Net is pretty consistent. Feely isn’t the best kicker going, but the Giants have now exposed another position on their roster that needs attention. Are we really confident in rookie kicker Josh Huston? In that Meadowlands wind?

Wide receiver Kevin Curtis of the Rams was in yesterday.  He’ll be 29 by mid-summer and has five years of NFL experience. Looks mainly like a 3rd or 4th receiver (can you say goodbye Tim Carter if he signs?).  He fired his agent on Monday so he can’t sign a contract for five days.

By the way, Lance Briggs, franchised by the Bears, wants to be traded. Translation: he is pissed about being tagged and forced to settle for a one-year contract. I really can’t see any type of deal being worked out where the Giants could acquire him. I have a feeling Jerry Reese is going to be from the George Young School of GM’ing: hold onto draft choices like they’re gold (and not giving a damn what anyone thinks).

Free Agency Six Days In

Wednesday, March 7th, 2007

The Giants haven’t made any headlines, but as predicted, this year’s free agency signing period wasn’t going to knock your socks off. The Giants have done some good things, though. Signing Shaun O’Hara right before the deadline ensures the O-line stays mostly intact, less Luke Petitgout (who signed with the Bucs today).  Chase Blackburn was resigned, and with Reggie Torbor tendered, they’ll have a nice backup corp (now if they can just figure out who the heck is starting at linebacker, they’ll be in business).  And Gibril Wilson, although not my favorite, was rightfully tendered. Finally, Jay Feely who I suggested should be resigned, was allowed to test the waters. Miami, KC, and Atlanta are after him, and rumor has it the Giants have countered their initial offer. Feely wasn’t as good last year as he was in 2005, but he comes in at 84% over the last two years. That’s not too shabby, and in a league were most games are decided by a few points, having an experienced kicker is important.

The biggest name associated with the Giants so far has been Dominic Rhodes. He was in the first weekend and rumored to sign, but it hasn’t happened. As I said, Rhodes is a nice back. Trustworthy and unspectacular. Not what I have in mind to compliment BJ. If he does ink with the Giants, they had better not overspend.

 Which takes me to my final thought on this day. The contracts received by the marginal talent have been ridiculous and is the main reason I am not concerned over what the Giants have done (or haven’t done so far). They signed a boat load of players last year, and most of those players didn’t have an impact. Be prudent in your analysis and spend wisely Jerry Reese.

Free Agency Preview

Sunday, February 25th, 2007

With free agency set to begin on March 2, I’ve broken down where I think the Giants need to concentrate their efforts on improving this football team. I’ve defined areas of immediate need as positions where the Giants need help and must target these spots in free agency and/or the draft this year. Areas of concern are those positions where the Giants need to improve and also secure depth.

Areas of immediate need:

Areas of concern:

With league increasing the salary cap for 2007, most teams will have a lot of room to spend and, with a limited number of marquee free agents, this translates into overspending for players. Don’t expect to see an impact free agent class the likes of Pierce, Burress, McKenzie as we saw in 2005, but rather players to provide depth to the roster. First, let’s start in-house with the players I would like to see the Giants bring back (where “R” designated restricted):

Jay Feely
Shaun O’Hara
Grey Ruegamer
Chase Blackburn (R, signed 02/24/07)
Reggie Torbor(R)
Derrick Ward(R)
Gibril Wilson(R)

Areas of immediate need:

Linebacker: This is obvious. Parting ways with Arrington and Emmons, plus with two other current roster free agents, this position is the most pressing on the entire team. How long will the team continue to mire in mediocrity at a position that used to define the organization? Right now, the best free agent LB available is Adalius Thomas of Baltimore. He has had two stellar seasons back-to-back and will command a lot of money. Rumor had it Bellichick was chumming it up with im at the Pro Bowl. You’d have to think New England would be an attractive place to play. The only downside with Thomas is he’s 30 years old (but some say it’s a “young 30” as he was a special teams performer mostly before blossoming). I’ve already made my case for the Kawika Mitchell of KC. He’s still young and getting better. That’s the guy I want. The only other name that jumps out at me is Cato June of Indy. I’m not a huge fan, as he doesn’t strike me as a physical type LB that you want in the NFC East. Put in the right circumstance (and right price), he could be a good pickup. The Giants will also draft a LB, very possibly in the first round. Restore this unit’s pride Jerry Reese!!

Defensive Tackle: The Giants are one DT from having an outstanding defensive line. The Giants are loaded at DE. With Barry Cofield and Fred Robbins, the Giants have a nice pair of DT’s. But they need help, and former #1 pick William Joseph continues to underachieve mightily. He could be released. Joanis Seawright is no more than a journeyman. The Giants need another quality DT to round out the defensive line to make it the run stuffing, pass rushing unit that disrupts offenses. The Giants will wait until the draft to upgrade here.

Running Back: The premature retirement of Tiki Barber leaves a hole in the Giant running back depth chart. Let me first state that I think Brandon Jacobs is going to be a really good back, along the lines of Larry Johnson in Kansas City. He’s going to punish some people when the fourth quarter comes around. With that said, what’s behind Jacobs? Derrick Ward is a nice third stringer and Jim Finn is a quality fullback. The Giants need someone to A) push Jacobs for the starting role, and B) provide a “change of pace” in the Tiki mold (shifty, cutback-type with hands). Ahman Green (Packers) had a nice comeback year from injury and would be a nice fit, but he will be 30. Michael Turner (Chargers) is actually the best back but restricted. Dominic Rhodes (Colts) is solid, but not overly impressive to me despite his Superbowl performance. I’d prefer the Giants fill this need in the draft, as quality backs can be found in rounds two and three who come in and make an immediate contribution.

Areas of Concern:

Cornerback & Safety: You’re probably thinking this should be an area that needs immediate help. I’m not so quick to agree. They have numbers at cornerback (Madison, Webster, McQuarters, Dockery, Underwood) and are not as bad as they are portrayed.  A stronger front seven will do wonders to help them out.  The Giants went with “second tier” signings last year in Madison and McQuarters, so I think they’ll upgrade corner only through the draft, unless they decide to throw big money at the only Grade-A corner out there, Nate Clements of Buffalo. I also think the above group would also perform better with a little help from the HELLO…..safeties. Which brings us to Will Demps (lousy) and Gibril Wilson (average). Wilson has never regained his rookie form in 2004 where he looked like a playmaker. He’s a restricted free agent and I have no idea if the Giants want to resign him. I’d bring him back only because of his status. Make him the minimum offer and see what happens. His backup, James Butler could be a cheaper and at least equal replacement. Demps seemed out of position all year and went for the big hit rather than the ball. Regardless of whether Wilson is resigned, the Giants will need to sign or draft a safety for depth.

Offensive Line: Even with Petitgout gone, the Giants should still bring a pretty good OL to the table in 2007. Of course, a lot of that depends on center Shaun O’Hara being resigned. He should be made a priority. Assuming that, the problem will be depth if anyone goes down with a sustained injury. Do the Giants expect last year’s fourth rounder Guy Whimper to be ready if a tackle goes down? Remember how we got burned in 2003 with Ian Allen starting and Fassel juggling the line? Expect some movement here either in free agency, the draft, or both. Resigning guard Grey Ruegamer, or a similar type player, to remain a backup would be a step in the right direction.

Quarterback: Finally, quarterback is a big area of concern, so much in fact I thought about categorizing in under area of immediate need. And I’m not talking about starting QB (I continue to be a supporter of Eli). In fact, I am so much of a supporter that he if goes down, I realize how much trouble we are in. Can we really expect Jared Lorenzen to fill in for a 3-4 game stretch (or longer)? I think not. Cult following and QB sneaks aside, to me Lorenzen is not the answer, at least not yet, to the contingency plan. The Giants just need to look down the turnpike for precedence. In 2005, the Eagles collapsed due to the lack of quality at backup QB. Last year, they learned their lesson and Jeff Garcia did a great job filling in for D. McNabb. The one guy I like is Tim Rattay, who is unrestricted from Tampa. He’s got experience and has played well enough where he can capably run an offense. The Giants have been lucky the last two season with Eli, and believe me, going injury free is a lot about luck. However, after all is said and done I don’t believe the Giants will address this need. Hopefully I am wrong.

After free agency and before the start of the draft, I’ll revisit what the Giants have accomplished, compare it to my analysis, and preview the draft.