Giants’ 2012 roster has a realistic chance of moving on this offseason. General manager Jerry Reese was asked on Monday if he’d put the number around 23 players in total.
“It’s a pretty big number, but nothing we can’t handle,” Reese said.
The truth is, that number is a touch low.
But Reese and the Giants have been in this position before and by making some tough choices and getting a handful of players to renegotiate cap-friendly deals, the franchise has remained competitive.
Andre Brown, WR Victor Cruz, S Stevie Brown, among others) that will likely enter restricted free agency, and then there’s a group of veterans that include DE Osi Umenyiora and S Kenny Phillips who might be too expensive to retain.
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“We evaluate everybody,” Reese said. “There’s going to be changes. There’s changes every year. It’s part of the business.”
Here’s a breakdown of some of those potential changes:
Coaching staff: When asked specifically about defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said the team planned on retaining Fewell, even though the unit ranked second-from-last (31st) in the NFL this season.
When asked about his staff as a whole, Coughlin didn’t seem to think any change was imminent, but also admitted he wouldn’t talk about it now even if it were.
Coughlin also said he’ll be happy to be back next year “as long as they’ll have me.”
Marc Ross: The Giants' director of college scouting has been interviewed for several general manager positions in the past, but with a half-dozen or so positions opening around the league, Ross could finally be moving on.
“Everything I see from people like yourselves (media) says that Marc is the hot prospect,” Reese said. “We’ll see. Marc has done a terrific job for us. If he ends up going somewhere else, it will be a loss for us, but we’ll be happy for him if that’s the way it goes down.”
Umenyiora: After renegotiating his deal last June, Umenyiora will likely be an unrestricted free agent. He said he’s enjoyed his time in New York, but couldn’t say for sure if he’d be back. It’s likely the Giants will have a tight cap situation, so Reese -- who Umenyiora has publicly criticized before -- might have to let one of the most productive players in franchise history walk.
“Osi has been a terrific player for us," Reese said. "I tell you guys (media) this all the time, he’s one of my all-time favorite players in the National Football League. Not just Giants (but) all-time favorite players. I was happy to see him stay healthy this season and when he’s a healthy guy, he’s another guy that has some tread left on his tires. He’s still got a lot of football left in him.”
DE Justin Tuck: Tuck has a base salary of $4.5 million next year, but his production has diminished (45 tackles, four sacks) and there’s a chance the Giants could ask him to renegotiate.
“He’s not getting any younger, but I think he’s got a lot of tread left on his tires and we expect him to come back and be the Justin Tuck we know,” Reese said.
Tuck said he expects to be back next season. When asked how much he had left in the tank, he said to ask him again in "six or seven years."
RB Ahmad Bradshaw: Bradshaw will make a base salary of $3.75 million in 2013 and $4 million in 2014. He said the team hasn’t asked him to renegotiate yet and that he “hopes” to return next year.
Bradshaw is coming off his second 1,000-yard season in the last three years, but has a history of foot problems.
WR Victor Cruz: Cruz will be a restricted free agent and the Giants are expected to find a way to retain him.
“All that is part of the evaluation process,” Reese said. “Obviously we talked a little during the season about an extension with him, but obviously it didn’t work out. We’ll see what happens during this offseason.”
Cruz was selected to his first Pro Bowl last week.
“Everything is on the table,” Reese added.
TE Martellus Bennett: His first season in New York was a success (55 catches, 626 yards, five touchdowns), but Bennett could command more money than he earned this year ($975,000 base salary), and Reese has had success by spending the bare minimum on tight ends in the past.
“I’m at the point in my life where we’re ready to start having family,” Bennett said. “We really want to be stable and in one place, so we’re looking for a long-term deal. The wife and I both feel like we’re going to be Giants no matter what.”
However, Bennett has said he also wants to play with his brother, Buccaneers DE Michael Bennett.
S Stevie Brown: Brown led the team with eight interceptions and thinks he “did enough” for the Giants to re-sign him. Chances are he’s right. The Giants will have the right of first refusal.
Phillips: Phillips battled knee problems again this year, but said he showed teams he was healthy by returning for the final game of the season. When asked if he’ll be back, though, Phillips didn’t seem confident.
“It’s hard to say,” said Phillips, who had a brief conversation with Reese on Monday. “I don’t know. After they move some people around and make some decisions, there’s no telling. Maybe they want me back. Maybe not, but that’s up to them.”
CB Corey Webster: Webster’s deal balloons up to a base salary of $7 million next year, so he could be asked to renegotiate.
“Corey got targeted some days,” Reese said. “A cornerback has some bad days.”
RT David Diehl: Diehl regressed in 2012, possibly because of injuries, but even though he’s set to make a base salary of over $4 million next year, he too will be evaluated like everyone else.
LT Will Beatty: An unrestricted free agent, the Giants have put too much effort into Beatty to see him leave for nothing. He played well after overcoming an early season back injury.
MLB Chase Blackburn: He said he hopes to return and Reese told the veteran that he appreciated Blackburn’s effort this year. The last time Blackburn was a free agent, he was a special teamer. Now he’s a starter, so there should be more interest.
LG Kevin Boothe: Boothe is also taking a wait-and-see approach with free agency, and like Blackburn, his case is made stronger by being a starter this time around.
RB Andre Brown: Brown (73 attempts, 385 yards, eight touchdowns) looked great before breaking his fibula, and because he’s coming off an injury, he should be cheap.
Unrestricted free agents: WR Ramses BardenTravis Beckum, Bennett, DT Rocky Bernard, Blackburn, Boothe, QB David Carr, WR Domenik HixonSean Locklear , RB Kregg Lumpkin, TE Bear Pascoe, Phillips, LB Keith RiversShaun Rogers, RB Ryan Torain, CB Justin Tryon, Tynes and Umenyiora.