Perhaps it is one-part salesmanship, one-part confidence, with a sprinkling of wishful thinking, but New York Giants’ general manager Jerry Reese believes that his team will clearly be in the mix for the NFC East division title next NFL season. Speaking at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Reese was bullish on the G-Men’s chances this fall, despite the fact that the team has not made the playoffs for four straight seasons, according to a report on N.J. Advance Media for NJ.com on Feb. 25, 2016.
“We have work to do, obviously,” Reese said. “But I think we’re close enough to believe that we can realistically compete for the NFC East. I don’t think anyone is running away with it. I think the NFC East is a close division still, and I think we can put together a team that can challenge for the NFC East crown next year.”
Reese made these comments knowing that the team hired rookie head coach Ben McAdoo to replace veteran leader Tom Coughlin, who resigned at the end of the 2015 season. In addition to a new coach, the team will be looking for talent upgrades at several positions like offensive tackle, offensive guard, middle linebacker, safety and tight end. Perhaps the only well stocked position for the team is running back, where the Giants already have Rashad Jennings, Andre Williams, Shane Vereen and Orleans Darkwa on the roster.
Linebacker also appears to be well populated, but not incredibly talent laden at the moment, with Devon Kennard, J.T. Thomas, Mark Herzlich and Jonathan Casillas in the fold. The team also has to decide whether or not to keep middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley, who flashed some production at the position, in the latter stages of the season.
In addition to the upgrades, Big Blue must also come to terms with several high profile soon-to-be free agents, including defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, cornerback Prince Amukamara, kicker Josh Brown and defensive end Robert Ayers. According to Nick Korte of OverTheCap.com, the Giants received an influx of over $11 million of unused cap money from 2015, pushing their own cap room to $58.6 million to replenish a roster that has been deficient for the past several years, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
But before the perceived spending spree occurs, the Giants will still have to come to conclusion on their internal free agents before they hit the market, and Reese was holding onto some further bad news at the combine as the New York Post reported on Feb. 26, 2016 that starting tight end Larry Donnell has not been cleared to resume football activities.
Although Reese has never poured extensive resources into the tight end position, Donnell was nonetheless the incumbent starter at tight end.
“Hopefully he’ll be able to continue to play,’’ Reese said. “We’re expecting him to be back, but necks can be tricky. We’ll have to wait and see where that goes.
Korte also indicated that the deadline for franchise/transition tags is March 1, while restricted free agents (RFA) and exclusive rights free agent (ERFA) tags are due no later than March 9, 2016. On March 7th, teams will be allowed to contact players and begin negotiations with free agents.