Giants Face Many Critical Off-Season Roster Decisions

We talked earlier this week about Tom Coughlin and whether or not today's outcome against the Dallas Cowboys should impact his status as head coach of the New York Giants. You guys seem to agree, as only 13 percent of those who voted in our poll said the veteran head coach should be fired if the Giants lose this evening.

Aside from Coughlin, though, there could be several Giants suiting up tonight for their final regular season games with the team. Pat Traina asked me about this in our 'Friday Five' this week, and the list of key players on the current roster who could by ex-Giants next season is jarringly long.

Among the players suiting up today, wide receiver Mario Manningham, cornerback Aaron Ross and right tackle Kareem McKenzie will all be unrestricted free agents this off-season. There is a good chance, in my mind, that none of them will be back next season.

Two key defensive players who spent the season on injured reserve -- cornerback Terrell Thomas and middle linebacker Jonathan Goff -- are also unrestricted free agents. It will be interesting to see what the Giants do with those two players. My guess? Thomas has a better chance of returning to the Giants than Goff. I think the Giants could move on with Mark Herzlich at middle linebacker, or with a high draft pick taking that spot.

Reserve wide receiver Devin Thomas and reserve lineman Stacy Andrews (currently on IR) are others who could be unrestricted free agents. Tight end Jake Ballard is a restricted free agent, and after the season he put together I can't imagine the Giants letting him get away.

Then, of course, there are plenty of veteran guys under contract who nonetheless could find themselves elsewhere next season.

What will become of Osi Umenyiora? With the emergence of Jason Pierre-Paul and with Mathias Kiwanuka having proven he is healthy would the Giants finally deal Umenyiora somewhere this off-season in exchange for a couple of draft picks? That's something they need to consider. Umenyiora might be fine with not starting Sunday night, if he plays, but he won't be happy as the third defensive end for a full season -- and if Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck are healthy that is what he is on this team.

Brandon Jacobs? He has finally come around late this season, but will the Giants continue with the Jacobs-Bradshaw running back tandem, or will they look to infuse the running game with fresh legs? If they do that, Jacobs would likely be the odd man out.

David Diehl? The long-time Giants lineman has two years left on a six-year, $31 million deal, but considering the struggles of the offensive line could the Giants look to release him, save some money and move on with a younger player like Mitch Petrus -- or a high draft pick -- in the lineup at guard? Best guess here is that the more likely scenario is one more position change for Diehl. My guess would be that McKenzie is allowed to leave, Diehl is moved to right tackle and Petrus or someone else takes over at the left guard spot.

Anyway, all of this roster intrigue will make for an interesting off-season. Let's just hope it's a few weeks before we have to start considering all of this for real.

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