Justin Tuck just signed a two-year, $11 million contract with the Oakland Raiders. The New York Giants had a chance to match it, but they let their former captain move on. While Tuck has been a great player for the Giants, their defense will be just fine without him.
The Giants will miss Tuck most as a leader. He was a captain and the player expected to take over for Michael Strahan when he retired. But Tuck was never the leader Strahan was, and it’s become apparent that Antrel Rolle has done more for this team in that department. With yesterday’s re-signing of Jon Beason the Giants have already spent a lot of money on leadership this offseason.
As a player, Tuck never got to the level many envisioned for him. He was out of this world during the 2007 Super Bowl and really could’ve won the MVP. But injuries left him with some less than stellar seasons, and he was a real question mark coming into the year. Of course, he wound up being the Giants’ best defensive lineman. According to Pro Football Focus he finished the season with a +15.4 rating and more importantly a +11.4 against the run, a number that ranks eighth amongst defensive ends. He even finished with 11 sacks after only combining for nine the previous two seasons.
Those sacks inflate his value as a pass rusher, however, as he only had 2.5 through the first 11 games. In fact, six of his sacks came in two games against a Washington Redskins team that seemed to have no interest in blocking anybody.
The Giants currently have Jason Pierre-Paul, Mathias Kiwanuka and Damontre Moore on their roster. Kiwanuka should be able to start in place of Tuck. If Pierre-Paul can revert to the form he displayed in 2011 and Moore can grow into a rotational rusher, the Giants should be able to offset the loss of Tuck.
Losing Tuck and Linval Joseph in one offseason will certainly hurt the Giants’ run defense. They have to count on Jonathan Hankins and Moore developing in their second seasons in the league. But they won’t be missing much in terms of a pass rush, and they are well stocked to handle these departures. No one is happy to see a fan favorite like Tuck leave, but the Giants have too many holes to commit $5.5 million a year to an older player at a position of depth.