Obviously some of these players will become franchise players and some will be re-signed before they hit the open market. If nothing else, this will give us a list of the players we would like to pursue if and when they become free agents. The needs assessment, the free agent list and the draft class will go into the overall offseason plan, which we will publish after the season ends.
We have determined that the Giants' prime needs are at least one top corner, a wide receiver, preferably with speed, an outside linebacker and special teams help. Needs considered to be moderate in priority are a safety and a running back. These are the Giants' biggest needs. We will explore the potential free agent options and make recommendations:
Cornerback – There should be two top corners available in free agency. Asante Samuel of the Patriots and Nnamdi Asomugha from the Raiders are considered premier corners. Both are young and considered shut-down corners. There is a chance Asomugha will be franchised by the Raiders. He is a tall corner, which makes him even more desirable. Last year Samuel was a franchise player but he signed a one-year deal and achieved landmarks, which mean the Pats will not place the franchise tag on him this year. Either of these players would be a substantial upgrade over what the Giants currently have at corner. Two more realistic corners would be Drayton Florence of the Chargers and Marcus Trufant of the Seahawks. Neither would be as expensive as Samuel or Asomugha and both are on a slightly lower level than the top two. The Chargers plan to go with Quentin Jammer and Antonio Cromartie as their starters. In fact, second-year sensation Cromartie just recently took the starting job from Florence. Marcus Trufant is in his fifth year as a starter for the Seahawks. He has very good cover skills and he will hit.
We believe it wouldn't be a bad idea to add another corner. This second corner would be of a much less expensive variety. We would like to add a nickel corner and we believe these guys would fit that role nicely for the Giants: Jacques Reeves from Dallas has had some starting experience when either Anthony Henry or Terence Newman has been injured. He is an ideal nickel. Randall Gay from the Patriots would also fill that role. He too has had some brief starting experience. Daven Holly from the Browns is strictly a nickel corner. He has had extensive experience covering the slot receiver or being out on the edge. He will be a restricted free agent, so if the Giants made an offer and the Browns did not match they would owe the Browns a seventh-round pick, but he would be worth it.
Recommendation: Everything seems right about Drayton Florence. He would be a perfect fit for the Giants and worth the money. A secondary that included corners Florence and Aaron Ross would be very enticing to us. We would also recommend signing Jacques Reeves as well. He would complete the corner position for the Giants.
Wide Receiver – We don't want to suffer through another season with our top WR playing hurt, our second receiver aging, and no production to speak of from the third receiver spot. The number one WR that could hit the free agent market is Randy Moss of the Patriots. He is not a Giants' type player and truthfully we would not want him on the team. So we will look past Moss for the next best available and there are a few who would interest us. We would like a receiver with some speed. Patrick Crayton from Dallas would fit nicely. Not only is he an emerging receiver with speed, but signing him would hurt the Cowboys. Bernard Berrian from the Bears is a receiver we like. He has the deep speed we are looking for. He is probably not having as good a year as the Bears expected, but we believe it is because they don't have a decent QB to get him the ball. In the Giants offense he would be a great target for Manning. D.J. Hackett from Seattle is also an improving receiver with decent speed, but we are concerned that he has been injured quite a bit. We like Ernest Wilford, a tall receiver from Jacksonville. While he is a very good receiver and he would fit on any team, he is more of a possession receiver than a deep threat. Justin Gage from Tennessee is another receiver ready to blossom. Like Wilford he is more of a possession receiver.
Recommendation: Of this list we believe the two best fits for the Giants are Patrick Crayton and Bernard Berrian. Neither would require a break-the-bank contract. We like them both. If we were forced to pick one we would go with Crayton but only by the slightest of margins. How about Burress, Crayton or Berrian with Steve Smith as next year's top three? We would bring back Toomer in a reduced role and give Sinorice Moss one more chance to shake the funk he is in. He certainly has not lived up to expectations thus far.
Linebacker – We like the progress Kiwi made this year and we expect big things from him at the strongside post next season. Our offseason goal is to find someone better than Kawika Mitchell. Mitchell has shown a few flashes; he had a good game against Chicago but there was a long dry spell since his last good game from much earlier in the season. The blue-chip LB that should be available this year is Lance Briggs of the Bears. There is talk they are trying to re-sign him now, which would take him off the market. The next level under Briggs contains names like Boss Bailey from Detroit, Karlos Dansby from Arizona, Demorrio Williams from Atlanta, Clark Haggans from Pittsburgh and Victor Hobson from the Jets. Since we are looking for someone to play the weakside we are most interested in Demorrio Williams and Clark Haggans. Williams is strictly a weakside LB. He is lean with good speed. He is good in coverage. Haggans would require a bit of a conversion because he played outside in Pittsburgh's 3-4 defense. We believe he could make the shift and be very effective.
Recommendation: Finding another LB is not a real high priority, but a need they should consider. We wouldn't mind if they signed either Demorrio Williams or Clark Haggans, but truthfully we would be more inclined to fill here through the draft. They have Mitchell to hold the fort, if they re-sign him, as well as Gerris Wilkinson and Zak DeOssie. Hopefully Wilkinson or DeOssie will step up next year. Wilkinson should be ready next year.
Special Teams – We believe they have some work to do here. We would really like someone a little more reliable than Lawrence Tynes, who will be an unrestricted free agent. They also may need a punter, depending on what Jeff Feagles decides to do, a punt returner with some flash, definitely a KO returner and perhaps a long snapper if Ryan Kuehl fails his physical.
The free agent crop of PKs is not good; in fact Tynes may be the best on the market. We would look to the draft here. It would be easy replacing Feagles, but one free agent of interest is KC's Dustin Colquitt. However, he is restricted and to sign him would cost a third-round pick.
Recommendation: Look to fill the need areas late in the draft and with undrafted college free agents.
Safety – We think it is important for them to re-sign Gibril Wilson. There are not a lot of free agent safeties that we believe are better than him. Even if they do re-sign Wilson they still need to add another safety. The cream of this year's safety crop is Bob Sanders of the Colts. He is a difference maker. It would be a real coup if they could sign him.
The next best safety on the list is Ken Hamlin from Dallas. He is a smart player and if they could sign him away from the Cowboys it would weaken them as well. The only other safety who might be of interest is Madieu Williams from Cincinnati.
Recommendation: If they fail to sign Hamlin they should look to add a safety through the draft. Michael Johnson might be a player, but he is still very raw.
Running Back – The only reason we want to add a RB is because Ward and Jacobs may be injury prone. Once they were hurt they wouldn't give Bradshaw a chance and they were left with Droughns. At that point the running game fell apart. The Giants may have handled the RB situation when they signed Danny Ware off the Jets practice squad.
We remember how much we liked him in the preseason. We thought Ware and Ryan Grant were the two top RB prospects we saw in the preseason games. We like the way Ware runs. He runs hard and he can make people miss. He will block and he can catch the ball. He was not drafted because he had a fumbling problem while at Georgia. The Giants coaching staff taught Tiki how to hold the ball, so perhaps it will work with Ware. Even though he is a long-shot, we like the pickup very much. Perhaps he will beat out Reuben Droughns next year. The only RB we would be interested in is Chargers RB Michael Turner. He will be a great acquisition for whoever signs him.
Recommendation: We aren't interested in some retread RB, unless it's Turner. We would rather add fresh backs through the draft. Perhaps Ware will show enough in the remaining weeks of the season to lessen the need.
Christmas Wish List
The Giants Beat Top Stories
Behind Enemy Lines: Los Angeles RamsThe Giants Beat's Scott Thompson goes Behind Enemy Lines to see the latest and greatest with the L.A. Rams.
The Giants BeatYesterday at 8:38 AM
Game Preview: Giants vs. RamsThe Giants Beat covers everything you need to know about the Giants first regular season game in London since 2007.
The Giants BeatYesterday at 8:12 AM
Cover 2: Top 2 Storylines for Giants vs. RamsThe Giants Beat details the top two storylines surrounding Big Blue's battle in London.
The Giants BeatYesterday at 8:04 AM
Week 7 Fantasy Slant: Giants vs. RamsThe Giants Beat takes a look ahead at who will be the top performers for Fantasy Owners as the Giants take on the Rams in London.
The Giants BeatWednesday at 8:52 AM