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Fixing The New York Giants, Part I: The Core

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This is the first of a four-part series in which Invictus XI takes over as the GM of the New York Giants to help build a stronger team for the 2015 season. Part I takes a look at the core that is already in place for the Giants and establishes what exactly the Giants have to build around.

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This season for the New York Giants was filled with some really pointed high's, and some deep, deep lows. At the end of it all, the Giants did not come out any better (at least in terms of record). You might remember that we did a similar series last year. If you feel the need to look back at it, here are the links:

2014 Part I: The Core

2014 Part 2: The Veterans

2014 Part 3: Free Agency

2014 Part 4: The Draft

Now, we'll be following the same exact timeline as last year, because, hey, it works. It's obviously very early on, so much will change. What won't change, however, is the make up of the core of this team. How do I define the "core"? Well, I've made up a certain set of criteria. They are:

1) Must be under the age of 30 unless working as a special teams specialist. Your core must be young.

2) Must be under contract for the 2015 season at least. You can't be a core player if you aren't going to be on the team. The only exceptions are recently called up practice squad players that can be easily retained.

3) Must show upside and should not be overpaid. This is all subjective, and a player can be handsomely paid, but they need to prove worthy of a contract or at the very least show upside that in the future they can possibly uphold that contract.

So that is my three criteria. Who on the Giants fits? Well let's take a look:

The Core

Offense: Odell Beckham Jr., Orleans Darkwa, Corey Washington, Andre Williams, Rueben Randle, Weston Richburg, Ryan Nassib, Justin Pugh, Preston Parker, Will Beatty, Rashad Jennings, Victor Cruz, Geoff Schwartz

Defense: Damontre Moore, Jay Bromley, Nat Berhe, Devon Kennard, Kerry Wynn, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Johnathan Hankins, Prince Amukamara, Cooper Taylor, Robert Ayers

Special Teams: Josh Brown, Steve Weatherford, Zak DeOssie

For those that don't want to count, that is in favor of the offense, 13 players versus 10 for the defense. We, of course, have three for special teams. That honestly isn't terrible. It's definitely something to build on as we don't even include next year's draft class and any young free agents signed.

Analysis

You'll notice a few things here. For one, a lot of the contributors from the undrafted free agent pool have come from the offensive side of the ball. You've got Corey Washington, as a player that I don't think I want to give up on and will have a place on this team next year. Hopefully he'll show Tom Coughlin (yes, he's probably coming back) enough on special teams to be more of a contributor.

You've also got, obviously Victor Cruz, who plays so much like a first-round pick that it's hard to remember he came out of little old UMass. Orleans Darkwa has gotten complimented by Coughlin enough times to warrant a spot on the roster next year. On defense, the only undrafted free agent that I decided to include in the "core" was Kerry Wynn for obvious reasons. I wanted to perhaps include a player like Chandler Fenner but he hasn't shown enough just yet to warrant that.

There were some tough decisions to make, especially when it came to determining upside. I really wanted to include Rogers Gaines in there based on his performance in the preseason. I also wanted to include Bennett Jackson as well, but neither actually spent time on the active roster for me to give them that chance, though I wouldn't be surprised if they were included in next year's iteration.

There were a few guys that met all the requirements except the subjective one on upside. They include Michael Cox, Jayron Hosley, and Markus Kuhn. For me, Hosley and Kuhn were pretty straightforward. There's nothing they've done to show me that they belong on the field next year. Cox was very difficult. Very, very difficult. At the end though, I don't think he's got the same upside as those noted above, but I can totally understand if someone decides to put him there.

So let's take a look at the financial liabilities for 2015 and 2016 for this group of 26 players.

2015

$76,966,365

2016

$52,326,481

So, for 2015, we've got 26 players as part of our core group, and it costs us close to $77 million. That's equivalent to about $2.95 million per player. That's not all that bad when you think about the players that will determine the future of the New York Giants.

So what do you think? Anybody you disagree with? Have different criteria for establishing a core? Let us know!

Next Time: We take a look at the veterans on this team and also make some tough decisions on those veterans. Who sticks around? Stay tuned!