As we mentioned in our New York Giants 2012 eulogy after the very bitter and teensy-bit-sweet 42-7 win over the Philadelphia Eagles, one of the biggest challenges facing Jerry Reese and Tom Coughlin are the expiring contracts of familiar faces.
There'll be a lot more to say about the guys under high-salary contracts who might be asked to renegotiate or given the axe altogether, but let's start here and take a look at the Giants facing unrestricted free agency. To be sure, there are some key names on this list.
Umenyiora is all but gone and has said himself it is highly unlikely he returns to the team. All signs point to his long-contentious but productive career with the Giants coming to an end.
It's not out of the question that Umenyiora sees a much weaker than anticipated market for his services. He says he wants to be a starter, but if reality ends up forcing him to accept a pass-rush specialist role it's possible he decides to stay in Blue to do it.
At the end of the day, Osi likely departs and goes down in history as another cog in the Giants legacy of fierce pass rushers.
Kenny has long been one of this writer's favorite Giants, so it's hard for me to think about 21 in another uniform. His talent as an above average starting-caliber NFL safety shouldn't be in doubt, but the chronic knee issues become paramount.
It really comes down to whether another team wants to make a big-money investment given Phillips' medical sheet. The Giants would presumably have the edge in deciding whether or not to compete with offers made to Phillips since they should know the player better than anyone, but personally we'd love to see the two parties work out a deal.
The Giants do have an expensive safety on the roster in Antrel Rolle and some good young talent in Will Hill and Stevie Brown (who is also a free agent), so it will be interesting to see how this one plays out.
Beatty isn't the biggest name on this list, but to be sure he just might be the most important. He's quietly developed into a starting-caliber NFL left tackle and was one of the bright spots on an otherwise shaky offensive line.
Free agency is free agency and left tackles are hard to find so you never know, but we'd be very surprised if Beatty becomes such a hot commodity that the Giants have trouble keeping him in the family.
Although Bennett didn't have the kind of breakout success that some thought Jerry Reese had stumbled upon when he released Bennett from backup duty in Dallas, Bennett proved to be as as advertised: a very, very good run blocker and a big, athletic target in the passing game (even if he's got a bit of the stone hands).
A guy who appeared to fit well in the New York Giants locker room and said he'd be willing to take a hometown discount to stick around, it sounds like the Giants should be able to find a nice middle ground with Bennett.
After all, Adrien Robinson and Bear Pascoe aren't exactly banging down the top of the depth chart's door.
Hixon's been around the Giants for a while and is a favorite of coach Tom Coughlin. He's fought through two torn ACLs and still continues to contribute, as a receiver and kick/punt returner. He's the kind of trusted, reliable and versatile veteran that every team wants to have and the Giants value that.
Barring some team offering Hixon legit starting money as a #2 or even #3 option, we'd be very surprised not to see Hixon behind Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Reuben Randle on the depth chart next year.
A few other notable guys
Kevin Boothe went from being "that backup lineman" to a pretty solid left guard for the Giants this year. They've liked him ever since they claimed him off waivers from Oakland a few years ago and we'd expect him to be back in the fold.
Sean Locklear appeared a veteran free agent sent from heaven when he stepped in at right tackle. His return to form from a nasty ACL tear is the biggest key to his return.
Ramses Barden has played out his rookie contract and gets to hit free agency with at least that one good game in Week 3 against the Carolina Panthers (9 catches for 138 yards) under his belt. We don't sense many of you will be clamoring for him back and we think there'll be a few teams out there that will think that they can make something out of him given his size.
Travis Beckum also just finished his rookie contract and, to a larger degree than Barden, we sense most Giants fans gave up on him a while ago. Especially given the injury concerns, we'd guess his run with Big Blue is done although if he's healthy we wouldn't be surprised to see him at least in camp next year.
Rocky Bernard has clung to that cheap veteran defensive tackle role for a few years now and only time will tell if he does so for another year. Given Chris Canty's injury history and Marvin Austin's lack of advancement, it's really not out of the question.
Lawrence Tynes is also a free agent, although we don't see any reason for him to leave the company.
Also…Carolina Panthers, Domenik Hixon, Football, Hakeem Nicks, Kenny Phillips, Lawrence Tynes, Martellus Bennett, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Osi Umenyiora, Philadelphia Eagles, Reuben Randle, Tom Coughlin, Victor Cruz
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