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New York Giants offseason ABCs: An A-Z look at the next few months

What has already happened, and what might happen for the Giants

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NFL: JAN 21 NFC Divisional Playoffs - Giants at Eagles Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The New York Giants are knee-deep into their offseason, trying to upgrade the roster and close the talent gap on the league’s top teams. Here is a Giants ‘offseason ABCs’ filled with important things to do, notes on players, some dates to know, and more.

A is for ... Assistants: The Giants have already gotten off easy here. They will get to keep both offensive coordinator Mike Kafka and defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, neither of whom secured a desired head-coaching job during this cycle. Quarterbacks coach Shea Tierney also interviewed for but did not get the offensive coordinator job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

B is for ... Barkley: What decision will the Giants ultimately make about Saquon Barkley? Will they be able to work out a deal that keeps Barkley with the Giants for a couple more years? If so, how close to the top of the running back mountain will that put Barkley’s average annual value? Will the Giants move on, spend their resources another way, and try to build a running game without a big-name, star running back?

C is for ... Center: The Giants have not had a primary center for more than a season since allowing Weston Richburg to leave in free agency after the 2017 season. The starters have been:

  • Spencer Pulley (2018)
  • Jon Halapio (2019)
  • Nick Gates (2020)
  • Billy Price (2021)
  • Jon Feliciano (2022)

Feliciano and Gates are both potential free agents this offseason. Even if one of them is brought back, neither really seems like an appealing long-term option at center. So, the Giants are once again heading toward spinning the wheel of potential starting centers to see where it lands.

Isn’t it time that the Giants drafted a player they believe can anchor the middle of their offensive line for the next several seasons?

John Michael Schmitz? Joe Tippmann? Steve Avila? Ricky Stromberg? Bueller? Anybody?

D is for ... Draft: The Giants will have 11 selections, starting with pick No. 25 in Round 1. What will GM Joe Schoen do with them, and will his work help close the “talent gap” he has acknowledged with the Philadelphia Eagles and other top NFL teams.

E is for ... Edge: It really doesn’t seem like a major priority, but will the Giants seek upgrades to their edge defender depth behind Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari.

F is for ... Free Agency: How aggressive will the Giants be? More aggressive than last offseason, certainly, but it seems unlikely they will do much shopping in the deep end of the pool.

G is for ... Gates: I love Nick Gates’ story. I love the fact that he always has a fist bump for me when I pass him in the Giants’ locker room. I love the “idea” of Gates being the starting center for the Giants next season — it would really cap his comeback from that terrible leg injury in 2021. He can be a free agent, though, and I just don’t know if this Giants’ regime sees Gates as part of the long-term solution on the interior of the offensive line.

H is for ... Heck, no: That’s my answer to anyone asking if the Giants should sign free agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. I want wide receivers with futures, not pasts.

I is for ... Indianapolis: The NFL Scouting Combine is back in Indianapolis this year, where it belongs, and I am once again planning to be in attendance. The Combine runs Feb. 28-March 6.

J is for ... Jones: How much money are the Giants going to end up paying quarterback Daniel Jones?

K is for ... Kick Returns: You thought this one would by ‘Kayvon,’ didn’t you? The Giants were, umm, not dynamic in kickoff or punt returns in 2022. They have not really had one standout return man in, well, darn near forever. Gary Brightwell is, in my view, not the answer as a kickoff returner. He was 21st in the NFL out of 31 returners with an average of 22.0 yards per return, and teams constantly kicked off short and challenged him. Richie James was 25th out of 31 punt returners with an average of 7.0 yards per return. The Giants have to do better.

L is for ... Linebacker: The Giants have a hole at off-ball linebacker that you could drive a Mack truck through, and that opposing teams spent much of the 2022 season running through, around and over. Hopefully, they do something substantial about it this offseason.

M is for ... MetLife: Or, really, the playing surface at MetLife Stadium. In November, we learned that the often-complained-about FieldTurf playing surface at MetLife Stadium was going to be replaced this offseason. Julian Love of the Giants revealed at the end of the season that the new surface was expected to be FieldTurf Revolution 360, which is also used in New Orleans and Seattle. Love told that the players “consider the new surface a significant upgrade over the FieldTurf Classic HD that the Giants and Jets had played on and hated since 2020.”

N is for ... Neal: The Giants desperately need Evan Neal to develop into the kind of right tackle they expected him to be when they used the No. 7 overall pick on him last April. Neal dealt with injuries and often didn’t play well, and how related the injuries are to the performance we may never know.

It is easy to say, well, Andrew Thomas took a big leap in his second and third seasons and to expect the same from Neal. That, though, is not a given for Neal. He has to accept the coaching and do the work.

O is for ... Offseason program: The Giants can begin their offseason program on April 17. So, you have to make it through about two months before the Giants start preparing for the 2023 season as a team.

P is for ... Play-makers: The Giants need more of ‘em, on offense, defense and special teams. What moves will GM Joe Schoen make to try and get them?

Q is for ... Quentin: If the Giants are looking to build their wide receiver room “like a basketball team” they need to add size to the mix. Quentin Johnston out of TCU, 6-foot-4, 212 pounds, fits the description. The Giants have pick No. 25 in Round 1. Conveniently, Johnston is the 25th-ranked draft prospect on Dane Brugler’s current Big Board.

R is for ... Receiver: Well ... duh. The Giants need more play makers here. They didn’t have enough in 2022 and two of the three top players they did have — Richie James and Darius Slayton — can be unrestricted free agents. This applies to tight end, as well, where the Giants need to add to what they have with Daniel Bellinger.

S is for ... Sterling: Will the Giants bring back their favorite cheerleader, and a guy who hasn’t been a bad player when healthy, Sterling Shepard, for one more try?

We know that Shepard’s contract has voided and that he is now a free agent. We don’t know, though, if the Giants and Shepard might eventually reach a deal to bring him back.

T is for ... Tee: If the Cincinnati Bengals make wide receiver Tee Higgins available via trade, would the Giants be among the suitors. Based on recent history involving wide receiver trades, the price could be at least first- and third-round picks.

U is for ... Underwhelming: That would be the term I would use to describe the group of unrestricted free agent wide receivers headed to free agency.

V is for ... Value: GM Joe Schoen has more money to spend in free agency this time around than he did last year while he was shoveling out from under the salary cap mess ex-GM Dave Gettleman left behind. I do not, though, think Schoen will be looking to make a huge splash in free agency. I’m not sure he can, even though the Giants will be in better cap shape. I think he will be hunting for value, though he will have a little more to offer in his efforts to find it.

W is for ... Wan’Dale: Injuries kept 2022 second-round pick Wan’Dale Robinson from doing more than just showing glimpses of why the Giants selected him earlier than some thought he would be taken in last year’s draft. The success of his offseason recovery from knee surgery and his health next season could be critical for the Giants.

X is for ... Xavier: The Giants need the 2021 version of Xavier McKinney is 2023. McKinney needs to spend the offseason getting his injured hand back to 100 percent, and then he needs to find the play-making form he displayed in 2021. Even before his unfortunate accident last season, McKinney seemed to be having a quiet season.

Y is for ... Why did this happen? I have driven the 290-mile round trip from my home in Brunswick, N.Y. to East Rutherford, N.J. a zillion times over the years. That includes about 100 miles of New York State Thruway. So, why did I have to get a ticket the last time I made the trip this season? For doing 80, which is the fastest I ever go? On every trip I get passed by at least a dozen cars that make it look like I’m standing still. Annoying.

Z is for ... Zay: If the Giants decide that size doesn’t really matter, or that regardless of being a smaller player he is the best receiver available for them, could the Giants select the 5-foot-9¼, 182-pound Zay Flowers and pair him with Robinson?