NFL New York Giants

5 New York Giants Storylines to Follow Leading Up to Free Agency

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Five New York Giants Storylines to Follow Leading Up to Free Agency:

New York Giants
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The impending March 11 commencement of 2014 NFL free agency leaves New York Giants GM Jerry Reese and his staff extremely busy over the next 10 days. The Giants lead the NFL in both unrestricted and total free agents, and Reese must quickly decide which personnel have the most value to the Giants' future plans.

In addition to the 2013 team's defects at the offensive line, tight end and running back positions, potential departures by Jon Beason, Justin Tuck, Hakeem Nicks and Linval Joseph create a myriad of new potential issues at linebacker, defensive line and wide receiver. Recently cut veteran Corey Webster leaves the team with an unaddressed hole opposite Prince Amukamara at cornerback. Realistically, the only stable position for the Giants is quarterback, where franchise star Eli Manning is coming off of his worst statistical season in years.

Fortunately for New York, the weakness of the Giants' division plays to the team's advantage. Over the past four seasons, the NFC East champion failed to win more than 10 games, and the absence of a powerhouse rival allows New York to realistically aim for a division title in 2014. As improbable as it may sound, the Giants are only a couple of economically-savvy free agency deals away from a return to contention.

Giants owners John Mara and Steve Tisch have expressed confidence in Reese's ability to orchestrate a team turnaround. If Reese wants to make good on the organizational vote of support and ensure that the Giants avoid another pitfall in 2014, he must decisively tackle these five storylines before the outset of free agency.

Luke Silver is a New York Giants writer for Follow him on Twitter at (@nyglukesilver), “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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5. How is David Wilson's Recovery Going?

David Wilson
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY

The Giants are presumably closely monitoring RB David Wilson's recovery from a potentially career-threatening neck injury. When healthy, Wilson's performance has been mired by consistency issues. Free agent veteran Andre Brown has also dealt with various injury issues throughout his career.

Internally, the Giants organization must address questions concerning both Wilson and Brown's durability and their role on the team moving forward. The answers to these questions will determine how aggressively the Giants pursue a RB in free agency.

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4. Do the Giants Ask Eli Manning to Restructure his Contract?

Eli Manning
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Eli Manning's current contract will cost the Giants $20 million against the salary cap, a staggering sum of money for a single player. Manning is coming off of a disappointing season, and many pundits expected the Giants to extend his current contract, allowing the team to create additional salary cap space by transplanting some of his 2014 cap tax across future seasons.

Up to this point, the Giants have been disinterested in any renegotiations with Manning. Manning has two years remaining on his current deal, and the team seems uneasy extending his deal beyond that point. It should be interesting to see if the situation between Manning and the Giants' front office stays as is, because it seemingly signifies an organizational wavering in confidence of Manning's abilities.

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3. How is Jason Pierre-Paul's Recovery Going?

Jason Pierre-Paul
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

When healthy, 2011 New York Giants' first-round draft pick Jason Pierre-Paul is undoubtedly one of the most dynamic and athletically-gifted NFL players. Unfortunately for New York, Pierre-Paul just hasn't been healthy in the last two years.

The freakishly talented defensive end's state of well-being will profoundly affect New York's offseason plans. If the Giants feel confident Pierre-Paul will round into form by the start of training camp, they will have greater leverage in talks with Justin Tuck. If the Giants feel skeptical about Pierre-Paul's 2014 condition, they might feel compelled to address the position in free agency and/or the 2014 NFL Draft.

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2. Do the Giants let Linval Joseph, Justin Tuck and Jon Beason Test The Market?

Linval Joseph, Justin Tuck and Jon Beason
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY

Jerry Reese has already come out and said that the Giants will let all of the team's free agents test the market. However, his private stance might not be as brazen. Joseph is young, proven and entering the prime of his career. Tuck, a defensive captain and media-friendly personality, still has value as a pass-rusher. Beason, a midseason addition at linebacker, provided the stability and leadership that sparked the defense's marked improvement during the latter part of 2013. Losing any (and possibly all) of these players will weaken the Giants' defensive front in 2014.

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1. Do the Giants Restructure the Contracts of Chris Snee and David Baas?

David Baas and Chris Snee
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

New York has already approached both veteran free agent offensive linemen Chris Snee and David Baas and requested that they restructure their contracts to provide additional cap space for the team. In a commendable display of selflessness, Snee immediately accepted the terms and publicly announced that he will put his ego aside and fill whatever role the team asks of him. Baas has yet to respond to the Giants' ultimatum, but the Giants will presumably press him for an answer before free agency starts.

If the Giants are able to hash out both of these restructured contracts before the first wave of free agent signings, they will be able to use the additional funds to pursue marquee offensive line reinforcements.