'Uncharacteristic' might be a good way to describe the massive blitzkrieg the New York Giants have been on during NFL Free Agency 2014. We know the Giants needed to shake things up after a second straight playoff-less season, but I doubt anyone outside of the Giants' Meadowlands Sports Complex offices saw this coming. So, what are the reasons for the sudden case of 'Jerry Reese Gone Wild?'
I can't claim to know exactly what Reese, head coach Tom Coughlin and co-owner John Mara are thinking -- other than knowing they need to get better players. I do have some theories as to why the Giants have suddenly pushed all of their chips to the center of the table and gone "All In" when it comes to building a roster for the 2014 season. Here are five of them:
1. Tom Coughlin: The Giants' head coach may feel like "a young guy in this business," but he really is an old guy in the coaching business -- oldest in the league at the moment. Coughlin will be 68 when the 2014 NFL season opens, and his time is running out. Whether that comes after the 2014 season, after his current contract expires following the 2015 season, or some time after that no one knows. The clock is ticking, however, and as long as Coughlin is on the sidelines the Giants need to do everything in their power to give him tools he has a chance to win with immediately, not the 'Island of Misfit Toys' roster they handed him a season ago.
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2. Eli Manning: This is sort of an extension of my thoughts on Coughlin. Manning is 33 and has two years remaining on his six-year, $97.5 million contract. Do the Giants want to extend him at some point, probably after the 2014 season? Do they want to begin planning the post-Manning era of Giants' football? Manning has those two Super Bowl rings and is the most prolific quarterback in franchise history, but 2013 was about as ugly as it can get for Manning. If the Giants are going to make a proper judgment about whether or not Manning can be a championship-caliber quarterback for several more seasons, they need to put a quality supporting cast around him.
3. Philadelphia Eagles: Face it, the Eagles are absolutely loaded offensively. They have multliple weapons everywhere -- receiver, tight end, running back. How do you handle that? First and foremost, you need a stockpile of guys who can cover -- and the Giants have that now. You also have to have some dynamic playmakers of your own, which the Giants added with kick returners Quintin Demps and Trindon Holliday, along with running back Rashad Jennings.
4. The Salary Cap: The bump in the salary cap from $123 million to $133 million gave the Giants some room to maneuver. More importantly, though, are the expectations that the cap could balloon to as much as $160 million two seasons from now. Almost all of the players the Giants signed have agreed to either one-year deals or contracts that are very cap-friendly during the 2014 season with bigger payments down the road. This gave the Giants the ability to bring in players now, and figure out which ones to keep or pay the biggest money to down the road.
5. John Mara: The Giants' co-owner was obviously displeased with his product at the end of the 2013 season. Yes, there was that Super Bowl title. There have been four playoff-less seasons around it, however. There were also all of those obviously empty seats in MetLife Stadium for the Giants' final few home games in 2013. The status quo simply was not going to fly.