Free Agency Analysis

This story was intended to delve into and discuss all the Giants free-agent signings this offseason. However, after RB Dominic Rhodes walked into and out of Giants Stadium on March 2, the first day of free agency, the Giants' precedent was set. There was not to be a whole lot going on.

Actually, thankfully the Giants officially signed their first outside free agent – LB Kawika Mitchell – the day we went to print, at least giving us a little something to write about.

Yes, New York signed Texans fullback Vonta Leach, a restricted free agent, to an offer sheet, but Houston matched. And yes, the Giants were very close to a trade for Pro Bowl LB Al Wilson, but he failed their physical so that fell through. With that said, here's a look at all of New York's comings and goings this offseason, including the Tim Carter for Reuben Droughns trade.

For information on New York's three restricted free agents, please check out Giants News and Notes.

Players acquired

LB Kawika Mitchell

The Giants finally joined the free-agent game when they inked former Chiefs LB Kawika Mitchell to a one-year deal worth $1 million. Mitchell immediately becomes an odds-on favorite to start at one of the outside LB spots, most likely on the strong side.

The previous four seasons, Kawika (pronounced kuh-VEE-ka) Mitchell played inside linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs, leading the team in tackles each of the last two seasons.

"Over the past two years I haven't come off the field, I have played 100 percent of all the plays at Kansas City," Mitchell said. "I feel like I can do whatever is asked of me, and then some. I plan on making an impact and trying to make a lot of big plays and the plays that should be made."

A 6-1, 253-pounder, Mitchell started all 17 regular season and postseason games for the Chiefs last season and had a team-high 118 tackles (88 solo), which was 31 more than runner-up Sammy Knight. Mitchell also had a team-high 13 tackles in the Chiefs' AFC Wild Card loss at Indianapolis.

"Kawika is a good young veteran who has started for the last three years," general manager Jerry Reese said of the 27-year-old Mitchell. "He's a young guy who has played a lot of snaps in this league, and we feel like he can really play any of the linebacker positions. He is a guy who has something to prove, and this will be a great opportunity for him to do that. We're excited to have him and we feel like he will stabilize our linebacker situation."

Mitchell, who will wear jersey number 55, could have shopped himself around, but thought the Giants offered him the best opportunity for both team success and playing time.

"They've got a good team – that's the most important thing," he said. "I think we can win games. This is a team that can win a lot of games and I can help do something right away."

He also said he wasn't fazed by having to settle for only a one-year deal.

"Hopefully I can build on it and make it a long-term thing," he said.

In four years in Kansas City, Mitchell started 50 of 59 regular season games, including his last 42 in a row. He recorded 363 tackles (262 solo), 4.5 sacks, three interceptions and four fumble recoveries. Mitchell joined the Chiefs as a second-round draft choice (the 47th overall selection) in 2003.

TGI's take: While we obviously would have loved to have seen the Al Wilson trade come to fruition, the Giants were understandably scared off due to injury concerns. Signing Mitchell is a solid, if not spectacular move. He's obviously an upgrade over Chase Blackburn and/or Gerris Wilkinson.

RB Reuben Droughns

As first reported in TGI, the Giants shipped WR Tim Carter to Cleveland for RB Reuben Droughns. The 28-year-old Droughns, who has twice rushed for more than 1,200 yards in his career, will split the backfield workload this season with third-year pro Brandon Jacobs. The Giants were looking to add a running back after the recent retirement of Tiki Barber, their career rushing leader.

"They're going to use both of us and we're going to have a pound-it-out running game," Droughns said. "If course you want to be the number-one guy but I just want to contribute."

"Reuben rushed for 1,200 yards in '04 and '05 (1,240 and 1,232, respectively) and 750 (758) last year," Reese said. "We think he gives us a nice veteran presence and complements Brandon Jacobs and the rest of our running back group nicely."

Droughns has played in 86 career games with 50 starts and rushed for 3,327 yards on 844 carries (a 3.9-yard average) and 13 touchdowns. Droughns rushed for a career-best 193 yards for the Denver Broncos on Oct. 10, 2004 against Carolina. He also has 116 career receptions for 940 yards and six scores.

Droughns, a 5-11, 220-pounder who played at the University of Oregon, entered the NFL as a third-round draft choice by the Detroit Lions in 2000, when he was the 81st overall selection.

This is the Giants' first straight-up, veteran-for-veteran player trade since July 12, 1984, when linebacker Brad Van Pelt was dealt to Minnesota for running back Tony Galbreath.

TGI's take: While he's not Rhodes, Droughns already has a couple 1,000-yard seasons under his belt and basically came for free considering that Carter was unlikely to make it out of training camp.

Players re-signed

C Shaun O'Hara

The Giants didn't even play around and allow their O-line anchor to hit the open market, locking up O'Hara to a five-year, $19 million pact with a $7.5 million signing bonus.

"It feels great to be back," O'Hara said. "There's always a little bit of the unknown, but that's part of the business. I really tried to keep an even keel (during negotiations). The toughest thing is to not let it get personal, which is hard.

"There's a sense of relief that it's done so that I can now focus on football, which is what I do best."

TGI's take: Very smart move since O'Hara has become one of the club's offensive leaders.

G Grey Ruegamer

The Giants re-signed offensive lineman Grey Ruegamer, a nine-year vet who played in all 17 regular and postseason games with one start last season.

TGI's take: They needed some sort of depth, didn't they?

LS Ryan Kuehl

After giving some serious thought to whether or not he wanted to return, Ryan Kuehl decided to give it another go-round. At that point, it was as automatic that the Giants wanted to bring him back as every Kuehl snap has been since his arrival in New York in 2003.

"Counting the year I spent on the practice squad, this will be my 12th season," Kuehl said. "That's about 12 more than I thought I'd play."

TGI's take: He's yet to misfire on a snap, making this one of New York's easiest decisions.

Players lost

LT Luke Petitgout

The biggest bombshell of the offseason came when the Giants shockingly released Petitgout. He promptly signed a three-year, $15.5 million deal to become Tampa Bay's starting left tackle.

Petitgout joined the Giants as the 19th overall selection of the 1999 NFL Draft. In his eight years with the team, the 6-6, 310-pounder played in 113 games with 106 starts and played left guard and both tackle positions.

"Luke has been a valuable performer for our team," Reese said. "Throughout his career he showed his versatility and toughness. Because of that, this was a difficult decision, but it was one we felt we had to make to take the first steps in improving our team for 2007."

Last season, Petitgout started the first nine games of the season before fracturing his left fibula in the first half of a game against Chicago on Nov. 12.

TGI's take: Unless New York signs or drafts a stud left tackle, which is highly unlikely, this move makes no sense. There were several offseasons when they probably should have dumped Petitgout, but coming off his best half-season was certainly not one of them.

K Jay Feely

The Giants were just fine to allow Jay Feely to sign with the Dolphins for $6 million over three years. Feely wasn't exactly a kickoff specialist and New York bid him farewell after only two seasons.

TGI's take: They weren't willing to even come close to matching Miami's offer, a decision we back wholeheartedly.

LB LaVar Arrington

The decision to release Arrington was a bit of a surprise, but the Giants felt that injury concerns coupled with Arrington's inability to grasp the defense left them no choice.

"LaVar's situation is unfortunate because he was just starting to really become a factor in our defense at the time of his injury," Reese explained.

Arrington's only Giants season was cut short when he tore his Achilles' tendon at Dallas on Oct. 23.

TGI's take: We would have given him another season to prove himself and avoid taking a $3 million cap hit, but that's just us.

LB Carlos Emmons

The Giants released Emmons, who only played 36 games during his three seasons with the Giants due to various injuries.

"Carlos has had a tough time staying on the field consistently because of injuries the past couple years," Reese said.

TGI's take: They certainly need to get younger and faster on the flanks so Emmons had to go.

WR Tim Carter

It was highly likely that Carter wasn't going to make it out of training camp this summer, making the trade for Droughns look like a very shrewd move.

Carter, the Giants' second-round choice in 2002, caught 72 passes and scored three touchdowns in 53 games.

"We wish Tim the best," Reese said. "I think it will be good for him to have a fresh start. We have some young receivers that we are ready to throw in the mix."

TGI's take: While a very nice guy and hard worker, he certainly won't be missed on the field.

TE Visanthe Shiancoe

More power to Shank, who unbelievably received a five-year, $18.2 million deal from the Vikings that included a $7 million signing bonus. Great work if you could find it.

TGI's take: They had next to no interest in retaining him, which was understandable.

CB Frank Walker

The Giants had no intentions of keeping Walker, who signed a one-year deal to join the Packers.

TGI's take: While he sure could cover, Walker was too much of a loose canon – on and off the field – to flourish on a Tom Coughlin-coached team.

RS Chad Morton

Being ineffective, then injured is no way to maintain a roster spot. Not sure why he regressed as much as he did, but he basically left the Giants no choice but to release him.

TGI's take: This one was a no-brainer.

Bob Whitfield

While the Giants might have pushed him into it a little bit, Whitfield decided to retire after 15 NFL seasons.

TGI's take: His play definitely slipped last season so this was a wise move.

In limbo

LB Brandon Short

It's borderline unbelievable not only that the Giants aren't looking to retain Short, but also that he's found no other takers either. All he did last season was record 46 tackles and two sacks in nine games.

TGI's take: New York should still bring him back – or risk regretting it.

* For the record offensive linemen Lewis Kelly and Steve Edwards are also unrestricted free agents that the Giants appear to have no interest in re-signing.

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