What to do with free-agent wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan is one of the intriguing sub-plots of the off-season for the New York Giants.
Giants' fans should know the Jernigan story. Drafted in the third round in 2012. Buried behind Victor Cruz as a backup slot receiver until Cruz was injured late in the 2014 season. Flopped as a punt returner. So-so as a kickoff returner. Starred in that three-game stretch as the Giants only real offensive weapon, catching 19 passes during that stretch. Entered this season playing on the outside with Odell Beckham injured, and was obviously uncomfortable. Caught six passes in two games before going on season-ending injured reserve with a foot injury.
Do the Giants think enough of Jernigan to bring him back to East Rutherford in 2015? Beckham and Rueben Randle, who finished 2014 strong, are on the outside. Cruz is expected to be back from his torn patella tendon, but GM Jerry Reese admitted the Giants have to prepare as though Cruz may not be the same player, or may not be available at all.
"You've got to prepare as if, "what if Victor Cruz doesn't come back?" That is always in the back of your head," Reese said. "If you are a personnel guy, or a General Manager, that is always in the back of your head. What if this guy doesn't come back and be the player that we think he is?"
That could be where an opening for Jernigan would develop. He was drafted to be a slot receiver, and in that brief glimpse in 2013 showed he might actually be good one. It is just that Cruz has always been better. Jernigan could be Cruz insurance.
Valentine's View: Keep Jernigan. Preston Parker (36 catches, 24.2 yard average on kickoff returns, 6.6 yard average on punt returns) did a nice job for the Giants in 2014. Jernigan's ceiling might be higher. No harm letting Parker and Jernigan battle it out for a roster spot during training camp. Especially since having a capable, experienced backup slot receiver seems like a good plan.
Vote in the poll and let us know what you think, Giants fans.