After a dismal season that somehow ended with a mediocre 7-9 record, the New York Giants headed into the offseason knowing they had a lot of work to do. Unlike years past where they were happy to make few moves and rely on the NFL Draft to add depth to the backend of the roster, general manager Jerry Reese and his crew hit the pavement running during free agency and did not let up until the final selection was announced for the 2014 NFL Draft.
The Giants added key free-agent acquisitions cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz and running back Rashad Jennings to address three of their most pressing needs. They also inked defensive players Jon Beason and Trumaine McBride to new contracts, exercised cornerback Prince Amukamara’s option for 2015 and selected a bevy of talented athletes in the draft who are bursting with pro potential.
Odell Beckham, Weston Richburg and Andre Williams could all be day one contributors with third-round pick Jay Bromley progressively seeing more and more snaps, and late-round picks Nat Berhe, Devon Kennard and Bennett Jackson seeing lots of time on special teams until they can prove worthy of opportunities with the defense.
The Giants also cut ties with some veteran players that were helpful over the years, including defensive captain Justin Tuck, who manned one of the defensive end slots for nine seasons in New York. Former first-round pick Hakeem Nicks left for Indianapolis, and defensive tackle Linval Joseph fled for greener pastures—or at least, more green in his wallet.
The losses were not detriment but necessary for the progression and improvement of the team as a whole. What is of concern was the Giants’ failure to address the tight end position which is dramatically void of capable talent in the passing game, at least as it appears on paper and film to this point. The G-Men are hopeful one of the guys on the roster can step in and be that guy, but there’s no reason to believe in any of what they currently have at the position.
If that’s the biggest issue though, the Giants are in much better shape than they were a season ago with an aging, oft-injured offensive line and underwhelming talent on defense. That team still found a way to go 7-9, even after an 0-6 start to the season.
With a dramatically improved offensive line, talented defense and some major offensive weapons in wideouts Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle and the first-round pick Beckham, the Giants appear to be in much a better position to seriously compete within the NFC East division with championship aspirations undoubtedly on their minds.
There are minimal gripes to be had with the way the Giants handled this offseason. Beckham may not have been the perfect selection for some at No. 12 in the 2014 NFL Draft, especially with offensive lineman Zack Martin and defensive tackle Aaron Donald still available, but he filled a need and infused the offense with some much needed firepower. Bringing Beason back was very important, and reconstructing the offensive line with the addition of Schwartz, signing of center J.D. Walton and draft selection of Richburg should prove to be great for the franchise much further down the road than just in 2014. On paper, the Giants look like a legitimate contender after one of the most embarrassing seasons in franchise history. Kudos to Jerry Reese for putting together a group of players that will remind everyone what NFC East football is all about.