Things were going to change. There was no way around it.
After missing the playoffs each of the last two seasons and watching 23 contracts expire at the end of 2013, this year's Giants were going to look far different than the one that had just finished off a 7-9 campaign. Be it need, or choice, the Giants brought in new faces to fill nearly every meeting room.
Since being drafted by the Giants in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft, Joseph had been a staple in the middle of the Giants' d-line. The 25-year-old had some pass rush capabilities, while excelling stopping the run. Joseph was also sturdy, playing in 47 of 48 games the last three years.
While not nearly as young, Justin Tuck enjoyed a resurgence in 2013, bringing down the quarterback a team-high 11 times. For the majority of the season Tuck stayed healthy, looking to put two years of struggles behind him.
Despite both players' accomplishments, New York still allowed them to walk. Joseph signed a five-year, $31.5 million contract with the Minnesota Vikings while Tuck signed a two-year deal for $11.5 million in Oakland.
SportsOnEarth.com took a league at each NFL team's front seven and ranked them No. 1-32. The Giants didn't do much to impress author Mike Tanier.
"Losing Linval Joseph and Justin Tuck is going to hurt. Joseph was a mountainous presence inside, and while Tuck's competitive fire was starting to look like the barbecue pit after a long weekend, he could still ramp it up and dominate in short stretches. Youngsters Johnathan Hankins and Damontre Moore hope to step up, and Robert Ayers provides some depth as a rotation defender, but that is not a fair exchange, at least this year. Jason Pierre-Paul is either a Comeback Player of the Year candidate or vaporware.
The Giants line has gotten younger, but the linebackers have gotten older. The plucky late-round and free agent rookies of the 2011 Super Bowl run are still here -- Spencer Paysinger, Mark Herzlich, Jacquian Williams -- and they still would look much better as a special teams brigade than as regular contributors (though Paysinger has become a decent run defender). Jon Beason is back after his 2013 rebirth, while Jameel McClain arrives to test the theory that if your idea to improve your defense involves someone from the 2012 Ravens, you need a much better idea.
The Giants defense recorded just 33 sacks last year, 14 of them from linemen who are now gone. Most of the team's rebuilding resources went to the offense. Maybe Hankins and Moore will pay dividends in a year or two, but they will need additional reinforcements, particularly at linebacker."
If it's any consolation, Tanier did rank the Cowboys dead last.
What do you think Giants' fans? Does Big Blue really have the No. 29 front seven in the league? Voice your opinion below.