The year began 11 days ago, but for the Giants, 2009 starts today.
That's when they'll begin to assemble, digest what occurred during the season that ended with yesterday's playoff loss to the Eagles - and begin making moves toward Super Bowl XLIV.
There are plenty to think about and eventually act upon, though. Here
is a look at five of the pressing offseason issues facing the Giants:
WHICH RUNNING BACK OR BACKS STAY?
Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward both ran for more than 1,000 yards in the regular
season and both could become free agents this winter. Is there enough
in the Giants' budget to keep both of them? "Everything's a
possibility," Reese said. "We'll see." The Giants also have Ahmad
Bradshaw and presumably Danny Ware to take either spot if one leaves.
The two players put in their two cents on the many millions of dollars
they surely will command. "I want to be a part of this just as much as
the owner wants to be the owner," Jacobs said. "I don't have any doubt
in my mind that I'll be here. I think I will be here and that's that.
I'm putting myself on this football team next year." Ward was less
certain, saying, "It'd be nice to end my career with one team, but it's
a business and they have to make business decisions."
PACK YOUR SPAGS?
There are no limitations now on teams interviewing defensive
coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who remains a strong candidate for several
head-coaching vacancies, including the one with the Jets.
If Spags leaves, where do the Giants turn? There are some attractive
in-house candidates in linebackers coach Bill Sheridan and secondary
coach Mike Giunta. But the Giants also can look outside the
organization. Either way, they'll likely fill the spot - if it even
opens - with someone who shares Spagnuolo's penchant for blitzing and
aggressive play that these particular players seem to respond to.
WHAT BECOMES OF PLAXICO?
Plaxico Burress is due in court March 31 and is facing two felony gun charges in
connection with his Nov. 29 accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound. If
he's found guilty, it would be the least messy way for the Giants to
sever their relationship with the wide receiver, as expected. But Reese
left the door open for a possible return. "If everything goes right,
yeah, absolutely," Reese said of the possibility of Burress playing for
the Giants in 2009. In reality, though, it's pretty far-fetched, and
the Giants will be on the lookout for a big target either through
trades - Anquan Boldin and Braylon Edwards both could be on the trading
block - or through the draft.
LOCK UP ELI
The final year of Eli Mannings
current contract is 2009, meaning he could become a free agent after
next season. Will it get that far? Unlikely. The Giants probably will
work with the quarterback during the coming months on a deal that will
make him a Giant for life (or as close to life as you can get in the NFL).
Big brother Peyton signed a seven-year, $99.2-million deal in 2004 and
Ben Roethlisberger signed an eight-year, $102-million contract last
winter. Expect Eli to be in that neighborhood.
FIGURE OUT THE DEFENSIVE LINE
Mathias Kiwanuka moved back to defensive end and had a decent season
for the Giants, but next year, Osi Umenyiora will return from his knee
surgery and create a possible logjam at the defensive end positions.
The Giants could have Kiwanuka, Umenyiora and Justin Tuck vying for
time at the two positions. One solution could be to move Kiwanuka back
to linebacker, where he played in 2007 before getting injured. Another
could be to have the players rotate, which could save them physically
as the season goes on. Either way, the Giants need to get deeper on the
defensive line in order to avoid the sort of sack swoon they
experienced this season.
What's Next For The Giants?
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