Four years. Four years that I've been doing this series and I'm never very close. You didn't think I wouldn't come back to try again, did you? Let's do this. The first part is, of course, trying to come up with a young core. It seems like certainly a bit more work than it was beforehand, as it appears our core has whittled down.
Blame Tom Coughlin if you want. Blame Jerry Reese if you want. Blame John Mara if you want. Doesn't matter who you blame. It is what it is, and we have what we have to work with.
I've come up with criteria that I've held for the past couple years because I think it works. It is:
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 2016 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 with that being said, the core includes:
Offense: Eli Manning*, Odell Beckham Jr., Shane Vereen, Dwayne Harris, Ereck Flowers, Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, Ryan Nassib, Bobby Hart, Nikita Whitlock
Defense: Kerry Wynn, Devon Kennard, Nat Berhe, Owamagbe Odighizuwa, Jay Bromley, Johnathan Hankins, Landon Collins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
Special Teams: Brad Wing, Josh Brown
Ouch. That's all I could really find. You could make arguments for Andre Williams, J.T. Thomas, Bennett Jackson, and Geremy Davis as well, but that's not a very large group at all. Victor Cruz was a difficult one to answer, but I don't know that I see him being able to qualify for my third criteria. Eli Manning made it despite being way beyond 30 because the Giants have made it clear that he is the QB of the near future, so by any means, he is not only a central figure but THE central figure of this team. At least for now.
There's multifactorial reasoning as to why the core is this small (nine on offense, eight on defense), the acquisition of talent, the development of talent, injuries, and mismanagement of talent all play a role.
The question now becomes, what of the other players on this roster? And how exactly do we grow this core? Who are the right people to lead this core? An abundance of questions abound as this offseason will be guaranteed to be one of change.
Next Time: We take a look at the veterans, coaching staff, and front office. It's time to make some decisions about who stays and who goes.