Justin Tuck is one of the best New York Giants players I have had the opportunity to watch growing up. Having said that, the Giants cannot repeat their past mistakes and invest more time and money into Tuck. Tuck wants to hit free agency and test the open market, and the Giants need to let him go.
He played a major role in in the past as his contributions went a long way in deciding both Super Bowl victories. He was a healthy and young force in the 2007 championship, and his forced fumble at the end of the first half changed momentum for the rest of the game. In 2011, Tuck forced Brady into an errant throw leading to the very first points of the game for the Giants—a safety. Those moments will never be forgotten.
Even more recently, Tuck had a renaissance season in 2013 tallying 11.5 sacks. More importantly, he was very successful in defending the run. He graded out as the eighth-best 4-3 defensive end in run defense according to Pro Football Focus. People will discredit his sacks because nine of those 11.5 came in the final six weeks, and he had only tallied 10.5 sacks in his previous 37 games before that. It is fair to knock him for this even if he would look to previous injury-marred seasons as an excuse for his lack of success in previous games. That excuse, however, is ironically also the basis for why the Giants need to let him walk.
The Giants would simply be making the same mistake that has led them to where they are now and where they finished in 2013. General manager Jerry Reese opted to extend and restructure the contracts of older and more injury-prone veterans like guard Chris Snee, center David Baas and cornerback Corey Webster. These contracts resulted in these three players counting for just under $19 million of their salary cap figure in 2013 which accounted for a whopping 15 percent of their team’s total salary cap. What did the Giants get from them? All three landed on injured reserve, and before their early-season injuries all three players were very unproductive in limited game action.
If you want to find success from teams who have used the opposite strategy you need to look no further than this weekend’s Super Bowl. The Seattle Seahawks are winning on the merits of their young and drafted talent. Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor and the entire legion of boom is made up of young players who are still on their rookie contracts.
Offering contracts to older players is just not the way to win anymore in the NFL. The term that players often use, “not for long” league, really couldn’t be anymore true. You need to win through the draft and you can’t pay a player for his past production. This is a concept that the Giants need to start adhering to now. It starts with letting an all-time great like Justin Tuck leave for bigger money and more years from another team.