The New York Giants are back in the NFL Playoffs for the first time in five years, thanks in large part to the off-season moves made by general manager Jerry Reese. Spending $200 million on a new defense made up most of the heavy-lifting, but the Giants’ front-office also hit on deciding which players to let walk. Check out how these ex-Giants did after moving on from New York.
Rueben Randle, WR
If training camp performances counted as much as regular-season games, Randle would still be in the league. He might even still be a Giant. From my experience, Randle usually stood out during the summer, but his game just didn’t translate to Sundays. Randle and the Giants parted ways last year and he moved on to the Philadelphia Eagles, who promptly cut him during the preseason. He went unsigned for the entire 2016 season.
Prince Amukamara, CB
After an injury-plagued tenure in New York, Amukamara had a solid first season with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2016. Not that the Giants are looking back. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Janoris Jenkins had All-Pro seasons and rookie Eli Apple looks much further along than Prince was at the same point in his career. Amukamara, who played only one full season in five years with the Giants, played 14 games in Jacksonville. He missed two games with a hamstring injury.
Robert Ayers, DE
Ayers had a nice season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after the Giants let him walk, recording 6.5 sacks in 12 games. He could’ve provided the Giants valuable depth on the end, especially with Jason Pierre-Paul going down, but not for the $7.75 million price tag Tampa paid for him in 2016.
Cullen Jenkins, DT
Jenkins was cut by the Washington Redskins in September, then re-signed less than two weeks later. Now 35, Jenkins is little more than an alternate on the defensive line these days. The Giants have been just fine with Johnathan Hankins and All-Pro Damon “Snacks” Harrison manning the middle.
Hakeem Nicks, WR
From his rookie season in 2009 through the first two weeks of 2012, Nicks looked primed to become one of the NFL’s upper-echelon receivers. His physical prime was short-lived, however, as mounting leg and foot injuries stopped his momentum and have all but ended his playing career before age 30. After spending a season with the Indianapolis Colts, then being cut by the Tennessee Titans, the Giants brought Nicks back for a cup of coffee in 2015. He moved on to the New Orleans Saints last July but was cut little more than a week later and hasn’t been heard from since.
Geoff Schwartz, G
Schwartz was cut by the Giants last February before signing with the Detroit Lions in March. Detroit cut him the following August during the preseason and Schwartz hasn’t caught on anywhere since. That he hasn’t received a look with all the injuries the Giants have sustained on the offensive line speaks for itself.
Markus Kuhn, DT
Kuhn was signed, then released by the New England Patriots before the start of the 2016 regular season. As is the case with Jenkins, the Giants’ defensive line hasn’t missed him.
Jasper Brinkley, LB
In a surprising move, Brinkley was beaten out during camp by Kelvin Sheppard for the inside linebacker job. The Giants released him a week out from their season-opener against the Dallas Cowboys and the move has paid some dividends. Big Blue’s linebackers have played as well as they have in recent years while Brinkley is still without a team.
To recount, that makes five ex-Giants, who played significant roles at some point over the past handful of seasons, who could not stick on another NFL roster in 2016.
When Tom Coughlin stepped down last season, there are many who feel he was doomed more by a lack of talent than anything else. It's hard to argue he didn't catch a tough break, but Big Blue has turned things around under Ben McAdoo, and hindsight is always 20/20.