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New York Giants: Jerry Reese is Beating NFL Free Agency
- Updated: March 21, 2014
In previous years, New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese wasn’t a big player in free agency. He was perfectly content with signing small name free agents to conservative deals and adding difference makers through the draft.
The strategy worked, as the Giants won the 2007 and the 2011 Super Bowl with a bunch of rookie contributors. Ahmad Bradshaw, Kevin Boss, and Justin Tuck are just a few names who were late-round draft picks that ended up being major contributors on those Super Bowl teams.
But recently, Reese’s strategy backfired. The last two years have been failures. The Giants are just 16-16 over that span and failed to reach the playoffs both years. Franchise quarterback Eli Manning is now 33-years-old and is entering his 11th NFL season. Manning still has some good football left in him, but by no means is he still a work in progress. With the team’s franchise quarterback in his prime, the team had to do everything in it’s power to put as much talent around as it could to set itself up for another run at the Lombardi Trophy.
And that’s exactly what Jerry Reese has done thus far this offseason.
The Giants may not have signed the biggest names on the free agency market, but Reese has sured up some of the team’s biggest holes without necessarily breaking the bank.
The Giants finished with the 29th ranked rushing attack in 2013. It was pathetic trying to watch this team try and run the ball at times last year. As a whole, the Giants averaged just 83.3 rushing yards per game, and no back averaged more than four yards per carry. So to fix that issue, Reese goes out and signs former Raiders running back Rashad Jennings to a 4-year, $10 million dollar deal. Jennings was the Raiders featured back in 2013 and rushed for 733 yards on 163 carries (4.5 ypc) and 6
TDs. Not only is he immediately the best back on the Giants roster, but he’s a perfect compliment to David Wilson. Jennings is a downhill, power back which is the perfect duo with Wilson’s shifty, outside-the-tackles style of running. At just under $3 million per year, that’s a steal.
The Giants offensive line was abysmal in 2013 as well. One of the reasons the running game stunk was offensive line rarely opened up holes for the backs to run through. Eli was also sacked 39 times, but was hurried on just about every drop back. To fix this, Reese went out and signed former Chiefs offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz to a 4-year, $16.8 million dollar deal. Schwartz can play either the guard or the tackle position – the Giants need both – and played very well for Kansas City a year ago. Just like Jennings, he’s an immediate upgrade over James Brewer or Will Beatty on the offensive line. $4 million dollars a year for a solid offensive lineman is a bargain. Reese also signed center JD Walton who should compete with David Bass for the starting center position.
New York’s return game was virtually non-existent in 2013. Now, Trindon Holliday and Quentin Demps are on board to help bolster the unit.
The Giants are notorious for having a weak linebacker corp. Year after year, the Giants get killed by tight ends up the seam, and last year was much of the same. The G-Men traded for middle linebacker Jon Beason in the early part of the 2013 season, and his presence in the middle was a huge part of the Giants defensive success a year ago. Reese re-signed Beason to a multi-year, re-signed athletic outside linebacker Spencer Paysinger, and signed former Ravens LB Jameel McClain. Re-signing Beason was key, and McClain is a talented player with a knack for the football. He excels in stopping the run. Paysinger is the best of the group of pass coverage, but the Giants still need to find a guy who can cover tight ends up the middle. However, it appears the team’s linebacker corps won’t be an area of weakness for the team anymore.
And neither will the secondary.
This is the position Reese has done the best job filling with talent. The
Giants finished with the 10th in the league in opponents passing yards per game, but that number is skewed because of the stretch of backup quarterbacks the Giants played. In a four-week stretch, New York played Josh Freeman in his first game with the Vikings, Matt Barkley, Terrelle Pryor, and Scott Tolzien. Later in the year, the Giants played Kirk Cousins on a rainy day in East Rutherford and passing the ball just wasn’t an option. So the numbers are skewed, and the reality was the Giants secondary just wasn’t that good a year ago.
That could change this year with the additions of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Walter Thurmond, and the re-signing of Stevie Brown and Trumain McBride. McBride didn’t get much attention, but actually played very well for the Giants in 2013. He allowed just 32 receptions on 72 targets, can play inside or outside and has excellent anticipation skills. Stevie Brown is a ball hawk, something the team desperately lacked after he went down with a torn ACL in a preseason game. He finished second in the NFL in 2012 with 8 interceptions, but he gambles too often. However, the Giants need someone in the secondary who can create turnovers, and that’s what Brown specializes in.
But the additions of DRC and Thurmond are the best of the offseason for New York. Rodgers-Cromartie is a legitimate, shut down number one corner. Pro Football Focus ranked his as the 5th best cornerback a year ago. According to the same site, Rodgers-Cromartie’s 15.7 coverage snaps per reception ranked third in the NFL, trailing only Richard Sherman and Darrelle Revis. Just look at the numbers, this guy is a stud. Thurmond on the other hand doesn’t have great numbers because of the role he played for Seattle last year. He was the team’s nickel corner, but the consensus around the league is he’s a starting caliber corner. The cornerback position was an area of weakness for the Giants a year ago. Now, it appears to be the team’s deepest, and most talented position. This could be crucial because it also appears the team may have its worst pass rush in recent memory.
Tom Coughlin is getting up there in age and Eli Manning is in his prime. Those two factors put the New York Giants in win now mode, the Jerry Reese has done everything in his power this offseason to put the team in a position to succeed.
When looking at the winners and losers of the NFL Free Agency period, Jerry Reese and the New York Giants have to be near the top, or at the top of every list.
Just as Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post said:
The Giants are kicking free-agency booty and taking names.
— Bart Hubbuch (@HubbuchNYP) March 17, 2014
What do you think of Jerry Reese and the New York Giants offseason so far? Are they the biggest winners thus far? Leave it below.