The 2014 NFL Free Agency signing period begins on Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET, and the New York Giants have more work to do than at any time in recent memory. They have roughly two-dozen of their own free agents, have missed the playoffs two years in a row and four of the last five, have a 'broken' offense to rebuild and several holes on defense to address.
Do you still trust New York Giants' general manager Jerry Reese, the man in charge of dealing with the fixer-upper project that the Giants have become, with getting that done? 'In Reese We Trust' has long been the motto of many Giants' fans, perhaps even a creation of members of the Big Blue View community.
Blunt question is, do you still trust Reese? As free agency dawns, Rotoworld ranked NFL general managers, placing Reese No. 9 among the NFL's 32 decision-makers. Rotoworld's explanation of why Reese, with two Super Bowl-winning teams on his resume isn't higher, is telling:
Reese has been one of the league’s better GMs since replacing Ernie Accorsi in 2007, but his boat has begun to take on water. The pass rush that fueled two title runs in five years has aged out and moved on from the Big Apple. With Eli Manning "leading" the charge, the Giants’ offense has become an increasingly dysfunctional mess. Though injuries were a big part of the problem, Reese’s offensive line was an utter embarrassment in 2013. In other words, there’s much work to be done. Whether it’s Rueben Randle in the 2012 draft or S Will Hill in free agency, Reese has a knack for finding diamonds in the rough. Even his acquisition of a battered and brittle Jon Beason turned out better than expected. But the questions he has to answer this offseason are the toughest of his career. Who will get after the passer opposite Jason Pierre-Paul? How much does Manning have left in the tank? Which side will OT Justin Pugh man in 2014, and who will line up opposite? Does David Wilson have a future as a lead back? Reese’s history suggests he’ll find the answers. If he doesn’t, he’s going to be asked "what have you done for me lately?" in a city where time passes faster than anywhere else.
Fact is, much of the mess that the Giants became in 2013 has to be laid at the feet of the general manager. The roster turned out to be the weakest one the Giants have put together since Reese became GM in 2013, and how that team was constructed ultimately comes back to him.
Yes, there were injuries. The mess the offensive line became could have been avoided with a little more attention from Reese in drafts prior to 2013. Reese left the Giants without an experienced running back to start the season, which quickly became a problem. There was the failed attempt to replace Martellus Bennett at tight end with Brandon Myers. There was the wasted signing of Louis Murphy. There have been, as co-owner John Mara has admitted, too many risky draft picks in recent seasons that have not panned out.
Without belaboring each and every personnel decision gone awry over the past couple of years -- crying over spilt milk, if you will -- the question is simple. Do you believe Reese is the right guy to put Humpty Dumpty back together again?
Can Reese sift through the remnants of what the Giants have on the offensive line, remove emotional attachments, and keep the right players? Can he find a competent center in free agency and bring in players via free agency or the draft t o restock the guard positions?
Can Reese find a tight end who can succeed in the Giants' new offense? The Giants have been linked to a bunch of those during the 'legal tampering' window, and at least one analyst is not impressed with the list.
The #Giants are "showing interest" in an awful lot of bad tight ends.— Evan Silva (@evansilva) March 10, 2014
Running back? Wide receiver? Defensive end? Linebacker? Cornerback? Safety? There are decisions to be made across the board. During the early part of his tenure as GM it seemed like Reese had the magic touch. He knew when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em in terms of keeping or letting his own free agents go. He was a master-mind at finding low-cost free agents to fill key roles and at nabbing useful players for the Giants late in the draft.
In the last couple of years, not so much. As Rotoworld suggested, Reese's "boat has begun to take on water." With so many free agents, a loosened salary cap and a draft that is reportedly richer in talent than any during his tenure as GM, there is an opportunity for Reese to right the ship and set it on a solid course for the foreseeable future.
Do you still trust that the Giants' GM will do that? Or, do you think he will run the ship aground?