At some point, we have to begin turning the page and looking toward what our New York Giants will look like in 2011. Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News has provided a list of all of the Giants who can be free agents, and that is as good a place as any to begin some discussion of what next year's roster might look like.
Let's go through the names on RV's list, along with the salary numbers he provided. I will give you my thoughts on whether or not a player should be retained, or if he will even choose to stay.
LB Chase Blackburn ($650,000) -- I think we all love Blackburn, a hard-working hustle guy and the Giants' special teams captain. Then again, the special teams aren't very special. I would like to see Blackburn, a six-year veteran, back but he might be a casualty if the Giants try to upgrade the linebacker spot.
OL Kevin Boothe ($1,176,000) -- We have spent plenty of time laughing at the, umm, considerable width of Boothe's backside. I think, though, that Boothe proved that he has value as a reserve lineman. I say keep the five-year veteran, especially since there are so many questions about other members of the offensive line.TE Kevin Boss ($1,350,000) -- Obviously, the Giants should be trying to keep the Bossman. My question is, will Boss want to stay? With 33, 42 and 35 catches the past three seasons it is pretty obvious Boss will always have a limited role in the Giants' passing attack, at least as long as a traditional thinker like Tom Coughlin is the head coach. Boss might go looking for a place where he can be a bigger part of the passing attack.
RB Ahmad Bradshaw ($1,001,000) -- After a season in which Bradshaw totaled 1,549 yards from scrimmage it is pretty obvious Bradshaw will be expecting a nice payday. The question about Bradshaw is how nice? That will be determined by whether the Giants believe he is a No. 1 back, and that is still an open question. Bradshaw averaged more than 5.0 yards per carry five times in the Giants first seven games, and did so only twice in the last nine games. Blame some of that on the offensive line, but AB was not making guys miss late in the season the way he did early on. I say keep him if you can, but you can't break the bank for him, either.
LB Keith Bulluck ($855,000) -- See you later, Keith. The Giants need better play from their outside linebackers in 2011, and they need to move on from Bulluck rather than re-sign him and make him an every-down player. Bringing him in was a low-cost, low-risk move for 2010. Keeping him for 2011 would be foolish.
DT Barry Cofield ($1,759,000) -- Cofield has quietly wanted a big payday for a couple of seasons, and the Giants have been unwilling to give it to him. The five-year pro is coming off a terrific season, and I think he is going to make the Giants pay for not signing him by taking his services elsewhere.
S Deon Grant ($855,000) -- Here is an interesting one. I believe the Giants would love to have the 10-year veteran back. He played very well for the Giants at times, and is without doubt a quality insurance policy for Kenny Phillips and Antrel Rolle. I think, though, that Grant is another player who might move on. He still believes he is a starter, he played well enough this season to show he still deserves to be one, and I think he finds a team that will give him that chance.
WR Derek Hagan ($630,000) -- I think the Giants have to bring Hagan to camp and give him an opportunity. Of course, the wide receiver spot will be crowded in training camp. With 24 catches in seven games he might have played well enough to earn an opportunity for more playing time elsewhere.
WR Domenik Hixon ($1,684,000) -- Please bring this guy back. Please, please. If he comes back healthy Hixon can help the stuck in the mud Giants return game, their coverage units and be another veteran receiving option.
S Michael Johnson ($1,350,000) -- See ya! I didn't want the Giants to bring Johnson back in 2010, and I'd hate to see him in camp in 2011. If, however, Grant walks the Giants might re-sign him.
DE Mathias Kiwanuka ($1,776,000) -- This is the toughest call, and general manager Jerry Reese knows it. Kiwanuka was headed toward a monster season, and a monster contract, before going down for the season with a neck injury. The Giants are still not sure Kiwanuka will be healthy enough to resume playing in 2011, and even less sure they want to take the risk of re-signing him. Reese indicated the most the Giants would do is give Kiwanuka a one-year deal if he is healthy enough to get on the field. I would like to see that happen.
TE Bear Pascoe ($395,000) -- Yes, please. Bring him back. Give him a raise. Give him a fullback's number. Get out of the way! The Bear is comin' through!
WR Darius Reynaud ($470,000) -- No, thanks. At any price. Reynaud was terrible and I don't want to see him return kicks for the Giants ever again.
WR Steve Smith ($555,000) - Yes, of course. No matter how long the Giants have to wait for him to return from knee surgery they need to do it. Of course, Smith will lose some money because of the injury but I'm sure the two sides will reach a deal.
QB Jim Sorgi ($630,000) -- He's not Rhett Bomar. Do we really care one way or the other? I don't.
DE Dave Tollefson ($1,684,000) -- Bring him back, especially with the questions about Kiwanuka. He's a valuable reserve and special teams guy.
RB DJ Ware ($545,000) -- Did a nice job toward the end of the season returning kickoffs -- at least in comparison to everyone else who tried it. Here is another one where I really don't care. In all honesty, I think Ware is going to go somewhere else and look for a fresh start.
LB Gerris Wilkinson ($1,176,000) -- Another guy who could be a casualty as the Giants try to upgrade at linebacker. He helps a little on special teams, but he will never be a regular linebacker for the Giants. Let him go.
DB Courtney Brown ($470,000), WR Michael Clayton ($630,000), OL Jamon Meredith ($395,000). Maybe Clayton gets a camp invite, but that's about it.