Q: Have you started any extension negotiations with Victor Cruz, and how is that going to play out going forward?
A: We’re in the early stages of our evaluating the team as a whole, individually. We have not yet discussed anything with respect to salaries.
Q: Is that the biggest challenge you face during the offseason? Are you expecting a line to form at the door for people looking for more money?
A: That’s a good problem to have. You win the Super Bowl and if everybody thinks they’re the reason we won – that’s a good problem to have. That means you won it. It’s just part of the offseason. There are always contract issues in the offseason. That’s what the offseason is. You have to deal with contracts and things with your roster – who’s going to stay, who’s going to go. Again, we’re in the very early stages of the evaluation process. The coaches are evaluating the players from their perspective. Our personnel staff, we’re evaluating our players from our perspective. Obviously we’re looking at the UFAs and RFAs from the other teams, along with starting our draft meetings, our pre-draft meetings before we go to the combine in a couple of weeks.
Q: Do you think that the cap number will accommodate what you want to do?
A: It looks like [the salary cap] is going to be pretty flat. It could be a little bit more than it was this time, but it could be a little bit less. I think we can work off of the same number we worked off of last year and I think we’ll be pretty close either way. It will be pretty flat, I think.
Q: How far behind the other teams do you feel you are?
A: We’ve obviously been working as we went along through the playoffs, but it’s a lot different when you’re still playing than when you have nothing else to do except concentrate on what you’re trying to do in the offseason. We’re a little bit behind. Again, like you said, it’s a good problem to have. But we can catch up quickly. We’ve done it before. We have a tremendous staff with Dave Gettleman in the Pro [Personnel] Department, Marc Ross in the College [Scouting] Department. Those guys are real pros and we can catch up pretty quickly.
Q: Last offseason was crazy with the lockout. This offseason you have 24 free agents. Is it going to be just as crazy? You have more time, but it seems like you have just as much work to do if not more.
A: It’s a significant amount of work, but that’s what the offseason is. We’re used to doing a significant amount of work in the offseason. There’s a lot that goes into it. There’s a lot of planning, a lot of preparation and a lot of discussion on guys and on salaries and where we can go and where we can’t go. It’s a lot of discussion to be had, but we’ll be ready.
Q: Is there any wariness to breaking up the chemistry on this team or is there any more impedance in how to keep it together and re-sign guys because of that chemistry?
A: Wins always make you love each other. So that’s a common denominator – wins. Every team is different, as you know. Every offseason the team changes, but there will be a strong core of the players – our current players – coming back. I can tell you that. But there will definitely be some changes.
Q: Was there anything during the season that said to yourself, ‘We’re doing things the right way’?
A: We always try to do what’s right for the New York Giants. We try to make good football decisions. It would be great to look like you’re really smart in the offseason and go out and make a lot of splashy moves so you guys can write nice-going things about our personnel staff, but our goal is to make good football decisions and that’s what we try to do every year. We don’t just think about our personnel for the current year. We think a couple of years down the line and that’s important. I think fans think about the here and now, what our team looks like now. We think about that as well, obviously, because you want to win every year, but we definitely think a couple of years down the road a little bit in respect to personnel.
Q: Is there an example of a decision you made with the future in mind?
A: I don’t want to give up our secrets. No I can’t give an example, but just trust me. We’re not just thinking about the here and now in the front office. We’re thinking about at least a couple of years down the road.
Q: Do you see guys on the roster now that haven’t contributed but will be able to next year?
A: There are always guys. That’s what’s important in personnel. When you look at personnel and look into the future you always want to look on your roster first in our opinion. Look at your roster first – is the guy that you need already on your roster – before you go out and look for someone somewhere else. More times than not the guy is already on your squad. So there are some young practice squad guys that we like. We had a terrific practice squad. They did a lot in helping us in preparation – mimicking the other teams’ offenses and defenses for us. There are some kids on the practice squad that we really like. Hopefully some of those guys will step out of the shadows and heal some voids for us as we move along. They’re on the practice squad for a reason. We don’t have guys on our practice squad just to be dummy defense. We have guys out there who we think can have some redeeming qualities that might develop into some players. We try to develop them, as we go through the year, on the practice squad.
Q: Any names on the roster right now who you would identify as guys who could be those people?
A: Several guys. I don’t want to start calling people’s name right now, but there are several guys that we like, that we think have a chance to compete for a job for next year.
Q: Is Victor Cruz lightening in a bottle or can there be another great discovery like that next year?
A: Every year there’s a guy that comes out of the shadows on different teams. That’s the beauty of the personnel in scouting. You go out and some guys like that fall through the cracks. You only have seven rounds. Those kinds of guys would probably get drafted [in] the old days. I think Rosie Brown got picked in the 27th round. If you had 27 rounds those kinds of guys would definitely get drafted, but you only have seven rounds now. So some players like Victor, with a couple redeeming qualities that some of our scouts like would probably get drafted at some point in a draft in you had that many rounds. But it’s only seven rounds. So it’s not an exact science. Every year there’s a guy like that and there are plenty of guys who are in the Hall of Fame, but they didn’t get drafted.
Q: How does losing two of your tight ends in a single game throw a monkey wrench in everything? How do you recover from that from a personnel standpoint?
A: Obviously we think both of those guys flashed and were showing talent to fill the void at tight end, but we’ll just see how they are health-wise after the surgeries and see how quickly they can get back. I’m not a doctor, but from perspective, right now they’re both probably guys that will end up on PUP at the beginning of the season and see how healthy they are and how quickly they can recover from these injuries that they have. Obviously Bear Pascoe is kind of like a joker on offense for us too. We talk about Kiwi being a joker on defense, Bear plays tight end, he plays H-back, he can play fullback. He can do a little bit of everything. So he’ll be back along with one of the practice squad guys that I said I wasn’t going to name. But Christian Hopkins is a big kid that we like – practices hard every day – that our coaches like and think he has some potential to come in and compete for a job as well. He’s a big kid. He’s at least 6-5, about 275 pounds and he works hard every day at practice. He’s endeared himself to our coaches with how hard he works and he has soft hands, catches the ball nice. He’ll be a guy. And obviously we’ll look in free agency and we’ll look in the draft for positions that we think we may have some holes right now.
Q: Is there anyone else who is expecting to have surgery this offseason?
A: We haven’t had that meeting yet. That’s part of our personnel meeting, where we finish evaluation. Ronnie Barnes is there. He’ll discuss the health of our players and where he thinks they are and when they project to be healthy again and those types of things. That’s part of the process we’re in as well.
Q: Is it hard for you to assess your first four draft picks from the 2011 Draft because of the injuries and not playing and circumstances?
A: I think if you go into the season, you’re counting on all of your rookies. You love for those guys and you really want at least your first three picks to contribute, but a lot of times they don’t. I use this as an example, Randy Moss. It’s hard for guys to come in and do a Randy Moss as a rookie because the league is so different from the college level. Most guys you draft are developmental players, even the guys you draft in the first round because the game is so different. But you do want your first three picks to come in and contribute. And they did to a degree. Marvin Austin didn’t because he got hurt and was out for the season, but Jernigan did a couple of things for us. He came on a little bit late and helped us in the return game some. We do think he’s going to be a good receiver for us as well. And Prince, he’s a first round pick. We expect him to play and play a lot and play well. Obviously he was set back with the foot injury. And Brewer, he’s a big athlete. It takes offensive linemen, sometimes, a little longer than others, but we have high-hopes for him that he can come in next year after he’s been through a whole season. Our guys are really like a bonus to us because we feel like we’re going to get a first and second round pick that really didn’t play and contribute a lot. So that’s going to be like a bonus for us because we’re picking low. We have a couple of high draft picks that really didn’t play for us. So that’s a bonus to us in respect to personnel and draft, to get our first and second round pick back and playing a lot of football for us.
Q: How do you evaluate the market value of a player who spent the season on IR?
A: It’s difficult. All the guys are different. A lot of it depends on how much did they play – was there enough to evaluate and how extensive the injuries are. All of that comes in to play. It’s no one way or another to evaluate that. There’s a lot that goes into it – how much did he play, how extensive is it, how much damage does he have with the injury? So there’s a lot going into that.
Q: Is there any way you can avoid what happened last offseason with Osi? Is there a peaceful solution on the horizon?
A: Again, we’re in the early stages of the evaluation. Osi is under contract, but we’ll discuss everything as a staff and we’ll discuss all issues that could possibly come up for us. We’ll come up with a game plan and we’ll move on day-to-day and see how things work out for us.
Q: What was your favorite part of this run?
A: No, not really. Again, we had a good nucleus of players coming back. We won 10 games last year so we felt good about the nucleus of players coming back. So we thought if we could improve in some areas – we talked about we gave up to many explosive plays, we talked about we put the ball in harm’s way offensively. We cleaned up some of those things and we were fortunate enough to win enough games to qualify for the tournament. We got in and got hot and were able to finish the season on top. That’s what you try to do every year. I said this to several guys after the season and throughout the playoffs, the margin of error between winning and losing or making the playoffs is really small. The ball could bounce one way or another and you’re in or it could bounce another way and you’re out. All of the teams are pretty evenly matched and you have to have a little bit of luck to make it and you have to have some good players and you have to have some good coaches. It’s a combination of the three things that help us through this playoff run and to win the Super Bowl.
Q: Do you look at the team more as 9-7 or as a 6-0, Super Bowl team?
A: It doesn’t matter how you look at it. The result at the end is really what matters the most. We were able to get hot at the right time. At times we didn’t play very well, but we played well at the right times. It’s not like we played against Jefferson Township High School. We played against some good players in the tournament. We earned the right to be World Champs. I look at it like that way.
Q: How do you feel about offensive line and you still envision Will Beatty being your starting left tackle? Kareem McKenzie at right tackle is going to be a free agent.
A: I thought our offensive line did a good job as a whole. The one game everybody, all of a sudden, made it sound like they were terrible [was] against one of the best fronts in the National Football League, in the [NFC] Championship Game against San Francisco – those guys are pretty good up front. But the week before Eli had tons and tons of time to throw the ball. I think they played well in the Super Bowl. Who’s going to be in – that’s part of the evaluation process. We don’t know who’s going to be the five who will walk on the field as the starters for us next year, but we do have some good players, we think, in our offensive line. We have some young players that we like as well. We’ll see how that goes, but I do think we’ll have a good core of those players coming back to put in there.