February 2008

The Giants lost free agents Kawika Mitchell, Reggie Torbor and Gibril Wilson today to the Bills, Dolphins and Raiders, respectively, essentially leaving Jerry Reese with holes to fill.  

From Newsday:

Wilson’s deal was the biggest of the three. He agreed to a six-year, $39-million deal with the Raiders, a blockbuster contract for a safety. The Giants had heard Thursday night that Wilson was going to get a deal in the neighborhood of $6-6.5 million per year with the Raiders.

Mitchell agreed to a five-year, $17.5-million contract with the Bills, who were burned by Mitchell’s interception return for a touchdown in the Giants’ win over Buffalo in Week 16 last season. Terms of Torbor’s deal were unavailable. He filled in at strong-side linebacker when Mathias Kiwanuka went down with a fractured fibula in a Week 11 game against the Lions.

The Giants lost several players to free agency and/or release last year, but wound up winning Super Bowl XLII with a stirring series of playoff performances. General manager Jerry Reese signed only one free agent — Mitchell — last offseason, but plugged holes with the acquisition of fullback Madison Hedgecock and the drafting of players such as cornerback Aaron Ross, running back Ahmad Bradshaw and tight end Kevin Boss.

In the Star Ledger today, Mike Garafolo says the Giants will go to the draft looking for a corner if DeAngelo Hall slips away.

If they don’t get Hall (because another team offers a better deal to Atlanta or they can’t negotiate a new contract with Hall’s agent), the Giants will likely go to the draft to find their corner. And while it’s still extremely early in the process, there’s a chance they could wind up with their second consecutive winner of the Thorpe Award (for best defensive back in college football) after drafting Aaron Ross last year.

Arizona cornerback Antoine Cason is projected by many draft gurus to be selected late in the first round or early in the second. A few scouts, who requested anonymity because they don’t want to publicly reveal their team’s draft boards, agreed Cason is currently a late-first to early-second selection. The Giants, at No. 31 overall, are likely taking a long, hard look at Cason.

There are a few other cornerbacks who might be available late in the first round: Troy’s Leodis McKelvin (5-11, 190 pounds), Tennessee State’s Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (6-2, 183) and Kansas corner Aqib Talib (6-1, 202), who grew up in Trenton before moving to Texas.

At 6-0, 191 pounds, Cason has a similar build to Ross’. And like Ross, Cason played a lot of zone coverage in college but has a long build — something the Giants knew would help Ross play tough on receivers at the line of scrimmage. Cason has also shown the ability to play man-to-man coverage.

Good plan, since they need help in the secondary.

Not taking credit for the turnaround, Mets manager Willie Randolph admitted he gave Eli Manning a peptalk at a last year according to Dave Lennon of Newsday.

“I met Eli [Manning] right when they were on that run,” Randolph said today. “Not that I want to take credit for it, but I guess it sounds like that, I gave him a nice little pep talk. I saw him at a jewelry store. He got hot after that and never stopped, so that was kind of a cool. He’s a nice kid.”

As for today’s visit by Giants linebacker Antonio Pierce, Randolph was thrilled to have some of that Lombardi Trophy magic in camp.

More on Lennon’s blog at Newsday.

According to his blog over at the Bergen Record, Vinny DiTrani says Gibril Wilson may hit the open market next week.

The Giants winning the Super Bowl also addsd to Wilson’s bargaining power. Teams like to bring in guys from successful organizations to bring that winning attitude to the locker room.

And let’s not forget Gibril is a pretty good player.

To me, it will be a big loss, but the Giants have overcome those type of losses last year.

This never gets old.

Giants GM Jerry Reese addressed the media at the Combine and spoke about other teams reactions to the Giants win.

“You get a lot of ‘atta boys’ and a lot of pats on the back,” Reese said of the reaction from his colleagues at the combine. “And you try to run from people so you can watch the players. Everybody is happy for us. It’s exciting to be on top in this environment right now. But you can’t keep patting yourself on the back. You have to move on and try to get ready for a new season.”

This is the first time since 2003 that Reese is not in charge of the Giants’ draft. Oh, he will have the final say in the draft room, as the general manager always does. But the nuts and bolts of draft preparation now fall to Ross, who was named to his position after Reese ran last year’s draft.

Reese’s many other duties as G.M. prevented him from being as immersed in the draft-eligible players as he normally is at this time of year.

“It’s a little different for me,” Reese said. “Last year I knew everybody here. This time I haven’t been able to go out and see players like I usually do. But I’ll catch up before April. I’ll know who they are, and I’ll catch up. But it’s a little different going in and not knowing the guys like I knew them last year. I knew everyone in the building last year. So it’s a little different for me.”

But that doesn’t mean Reese is detached from the process. Quite the contrary. Reese attended the organizational draft meetings prior to the combine. And before the draft begins on April 26, Reese will be as familiar with the names on the board as he always is.

“I’m a scout – I was raised as a scout,” said Reese, who joined the Giants organization as – what else? – a scout in 1994. “Once a scout, always a scout. You always have that in your blood. In the pre-draft meetings after we got back from Arizona, just to be kind of out of the loop and watch Marc Ross run the meetings – he did a tremendous job running the meetings and the scouts did a nice job catching up right after the Super Bowl. But it was a weird feeling sitting in the room and not controlling the draft.”

More at Giants.com.

Tom Coughlin took time out to speak to the press at the NFL Combine on Friday.

As reported on Giants.com:

“I’m trying to make sure that all the things along the way that you don’t read about or see on TV or whatever, the interviews and that type of thing, I don’t want to miss out on anything that was really good,” Coughlin said. “Hopefully, that’s not going to happen, but it’s a blur the way that goes. But it’s wonderful to hear people say ‘Super Bowl champions’ and ‘champions of the world.’ It’s kind of nice to get here and be back in the football environment and see so many friends from years gone by, people that have been in the league for a long time. It’s just a nice thought.”

Coughlin is not one to dwell on the past, even when it is worth celebrating. So he was happy to travel to Indianapolis for the combine, where he can begin to gauge more than 300 draft-eligible players and start preparing in earnest for the 2008 season.

“You really don’t ever stop,” Coughlin said. “We got back (from the Super Bowl) on a Monday night, we had our exit meetings, etcetera, on Tuesday morning, we had a magnificent experience in the Canyon of (Heroes) over there in New York and we had a great session when we came back to the Meadowlands with the fans being there. Then, all of a sudden, the next day we had to do (player) rankings and evaluations and write-ups and needs and things of that nature. So we went right ahead and did that. And then, as soon as we got back (from vacation), we continued along those lines with the information coming about the combine and free agency and started the evaluation of free agents, started our cut-ups. So we jumped right back into it.”

Because the Giants season ended so late, and the coaches were given much-deserved vacations last week, Coughlin did not have as much time as usual to prepare for the combine. But he’ll gladly make that tradeoff every year.

Just got it last night. I have to tell you, I expected something different; something closer to Giants Among Men or True Blue. 

The highlights only give you the games and nothing more and the music is pretty much the same throughout.

But the special features give you a lot. Interviews with Eli Manning, Tom Coughlin, Michael Strahan, for some reason, Mathias Kiwanuka highlight the extras. There’s also the two playoff games in Dallas and Green Bay and the Super Bowl Halftime show with Tom Petty.

I paid $21.99 at Blockbuster, but I am sure you can find it cheaper elsewhere.

Bob Glauber in Newsday reports the Giants are not only looking at DeAngelo Hall, but also Seattle CB Marcus Trufant.

There is speculation they’re interested in dealing for Falcons cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who said Friday he will not return to the team after new general manager Thomas Dimitroff told him the club would consider offers for him. Add in another potential target of the Giants: Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant.

According to a league source familiar with the Giants’ situation, Trufant is on their radar as a potential acquisition once the trading period begins next Friday. Seattle has designated Trufant as their “franchise” player, meaning Seattle has virtually exclusive negotiating rights with him for the 2008 season. But that does not preclude them from making a trade. He is coming off his best season, with a career-high seven interceptions.

Hall has one year left on his contract with Atlanta, and had initially expressed optimism about staying. But Friday, after hearing that Dimitroff would listen to offers for him, Hall told reporters in Indianapolis that he isn’t coming back.

“You know what, I’ll go anywhere – anywhere they want me,” he said. “It’s hard to play or be a part of an organization that doesn’t want you, so I just want to go somewhere that wants me. It ain’t about the money. I even told the Falcons, ‘I’ll play out the last year of my contract if you don’t franchise tag me the following year.’ And they couldn’t agree to that.”

It looks like the Giants will revamp the  secondary.

From the Daily News, Plaxico Burress may be looking to get a new contract.

Drew Rosenhaus, Burress’ agent, didn’t deny that a few minutes ago when he spoke to reporters at the NFL scouting combine here in Indianapolis. There have been rumors for months that Burress is going to ask to renegotiate his deal – and those rumors have only gotten stronger since he caught the game-winning touchdown pass in Super Bowl XLII.

“That is going to be between myself and the Giants,” Rosenhaus said. “I can’t comment on that publicly.”

If Burress does ask to renegotiate, it could be one of many offseason headaches for GM Jerry Reese. If Michael Strahan decides not to retire, he’s expected to ask for more money. There are already several NFL sources who expect Osi Umenyiora to ask to redo his deal. And there was some speculation that Jeremy Shockey, another Rosenhaus client, was going to ask for more money – though that was before his season ended with a broken leg.

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