New York Giants: 7 Most Important Needs Heading into 2013 Off-Season
The New York Giants are currently in their bye week licking their wounds and trying to figure out what's gone wrong over the past 10 quarters. It has been one of the worst stretches by the offense under Tom Coughlin, and Eli Manning is in the worse slump of his career. There are definitely many questions to answer for the Giants moving forward, but thankfully they still hold a one game lead in the division and it seems to be a two-horse race with the Dallas Cowboys now.
That said, it is never too early to look to the future. The Giants have been one of the more successful teams building through the draft, and GM Jerry Reese will look to keep building the depth of this team next year. They don't have many pressing needs when you look at them as they stand, but the off-season could change that. There are several players in a contract season that could be wearing different uniforms come March.
The biggest names the Giants will need to negotiate with are Kenny Phillips and Victor Cruz, but there are many other positions that could be gutted by free agency.
Obviously these needs will change as free agency comes and goes, but here are seven positions that will likely need to be upgraded, at least for the sake of depth, no matter what happens.
7. Tight End
Both Bear Pascoe and Martellus Bennett are in the final year of their contracts. In the case of Bennett, he was on a one-year loan and there has been mixed reviews from his first and only year with the Giants. He started hot, catching three touchdowns in the first three games of the season. He's been cold since, not being a factor at all. He is a decent blocker, but with Adrien Robinson waiting in the wings, the Giants will not overpay for Bennett to remain on the team.
Lawrence Tynes is having a terrific year from inside 50 yards, but the Giants just cannot trust him beyond that length. Yes, he's been accurate, but there are other kickers out there who are accurate and have better legs. I've been wanting the Giants to upgrade for a while, but they seem content with Tynes. Hopefully that changes some time soon. They leave too many points on the board too often.
Kenny Phillips is in the final year of his contract and Stevie Brown was signed for the veteran minimum for one year this past off-season. The Giants will want to keep one of them, but should consider adding depth if they cannot keep both. I imagine Brown will have earned a sizable contract with his play this season, so he could be on a new team next year.
4. Wide Receiver
With Victor Cruz, Domenik Hixon and Ramses Barden all free agents after this season, the Giants could find themselves in a position to need depth come April. Cruz will likely get the deal he is looking for, but I can't say the same for Hixon and Barden. One of them will almost certainly be gone, and the Giants tend to draft wide receivers every year anyway.
Kevin Boothe has struggled this season and Chris Snee is starting to show his age with a couple of bad games this year. The Giants need help all along the offensive line. I wouldn't be surprised if they look to find help starting next year, but we've said this for three years now and they've continued to ignore the group, at least early in the draft. The Giants need to get guys who are more than just capable; they need impact players up front.
2. Defensive End
The Giants have not found a consistent backup to replace Dave Tollefson and Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora are each under-performing this season. With how much Reese likes to build the defensive line, I wouldn't be shocked if they went defensive end in the first round again.
1. Offensive Tackle
David Diehl has been terrible this season and the coaching staff's loyalty to him has been frustrating. Sean Locklear is not a long term solution (though he should be in the short term), and the Giants need to start getting better up front.
Eli Manning is struggling lately, but a lot of his issues have to do with not getting enough time to throw. It's been a poor effort from the offensive line collectively. Diehl has been the worst of the group, but the entire unit should be considered replaceable at this point. The Giants have taken offensive lineman in the fourth round or later, but these picks are typically hit or miss (mostly miss). Reese has to start taking chances with first and second round talent and get back to the power running team we got used to seeing.