It has been a while since we have done a mailbag here at Big Blue View. With that in mind, I solicited some questions Thursday via the Big Blue View Facebook page. Largely, this turned into my thoughts on which players will/won't be back with the New York Giants next season.
Q: Which of the following players do you think will be released or on other teams next year? Bradshaw, Boley, Diehl, Osi, Webster, Blackburn, Kenny Phillips? -- John Zullo
Let's go through those one at time:
Bradshaw -- He has two years and $7.75 million left on his contract. I seriously doubt the Giants swallow the cap hit and release him. More likely, I think he becomes the No. 2 back with David Wilson ascending to the featured role.
Boley -- See ya! He has one year ($4.25 million) left on his five-year deal. The Giants have expressed the desire to upgrade at linebacker, and they are about $4 million over the salary cap. Dumping Boley would be a good start toward fixing both issues.
Diehl -- He is owed $4.1 million next season, which is the final year of his contract, and I can't imagine the Giants paying it to him. If he takes a significant pay cut he might return as a backup. More likely, though, I think he is released and the Giants keep Sean Locklear as their backup/swing tackle.
Umenyiora -- He's already got one foot, and his heart, out the door. He is a free agent and it would be a stunner if he returns to the Giants.
Webster -- Webster, 31 next season, was AWFUL in 2012. Pro Football Focus ranked him 110th out of 114 cornerbacks it graded. He is owed $7 million next season for the final year of a six-year, $43 million contract. This goes one of two ways. Either Webster takes a hefty pay cut and the Giants bring him back, or he gets cut. Emotionally, Giants' fans would prefer the latter. Don't be surprised, though, if what you get is the former.
Blackburn -- GM Jerry Reese has said the Giants need to be better at linebacker next season, and with Blackburn being a free agent that is an interesting test of Reese's commitment to change. Blackburn is easy to root for and has a lot of intangibles -- but he doesn't have the physical tools to be a top-tier middle linebacker. A pure guess here, but I think the Giants let him walk.
Phillips -- Phillips is also a free agent, and I just don't see him returning to the Giants. He's a good player, but with his knees and with Stevie Brown and Will Hill on the roster I don't see why the Giants would commit money to an player like Phillips who is an obvious health risk.
Q: What's going 2 happen with our offensive line n our secondary? -- John Viruet
A: The only change likely to come on the offensive line is at right tackle. As I said above, I think Diehl is done as a Giant. Unless they draft a right tackle you have to believe the Giants will give James Brewer, the 2011 fourth-round pick, every chance to win that job.
As for the secondary, the biggest question is whether or not the Giants bring Webster back.
Q: Any chance of a offensive/defensive coordinator change? -- Alex Quijano
No. If it was going to happen it would have already happened. Tom Coughlin has said both Perry Fewell and Kevin Gilbride will be back next season, so you might as well get used to the idea.
Q: What position is most important in the draft? -- Oscar Robles
Honestly, I don't believe there is a single 'most important' position in the draft. The Giants always say they take the best available player, regardless of position, and we can argue for the next few months whether or not that is actually true. Anyway, I'm not one of those people who wants to lock in and say 'we have to take a player at this position in Round1, at this position in Round 2, etc.' That is how you royally screw up a draft.
I do think there are positions the Giants need to address this off-season. I would like to see them draft an offensive lineman early -- guard or tackle, I really have no preference. Just the best lineman available. Overall, though, I believe improving the defense has to be the priority -- both in the draft and free agency. I don't really care about position -- you can make an argument that help is needed at just about every position on the defense with the possible exception of safety. I do believe strongly that the defense needs some fresh blood.