Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Faux GM: New York Giants

As I stated in the previous post, the current CBA situation makes it rather difficult to assess how much cap room a team will actually have heading into free agency. Monetary numbers will fluctuate over the next few days, and as such strategies will change. Each team should have a Plan A (no CBA extension) and a Plan B (CBA extension with added cap dollars) in place, so I’ll present both sides here.

As it stands, the New York Giants are roughly $5.5 million under the old CBA cap, which should allow them to make at least one major splash in the market. Cutting Luke Petitgout – which should be a no-brainer at this point – will save them an additional $4.5 million, and Carlos Emmons could net $2 million in cap savings, pushing the number to $12 million.

Before I get to the free agency situation, let’s take a look forward to April’s draft. The Giants draft 25th, which is far from an optimal spot for a team with plenty of needs. Consequently, they likely won’t be selecting someone who will make an immediate impact. That is, unless they catch a break.

Auburn OT Marcus McNeil is slated for the pickin’ right around the mid-twenties, meaning he could slip right into the Giants hands. Even in the event he’s taken before the 25th pick, the Giants should still be able to find an adequate replacement for Petitgout. This is a draft deep with offensive linemen, and the team could find their man in the second or third round, leaving some flexibility with the first pick.

If McNeil is off the board, the most logical move would be the selection of Ohio State cornerback Ashton Youboty. Will Allen is likely bound for another city, and considering the injury history of Will Peterson, the Giants would be wise to select another young corner to complement 2005 pick Corey Webster. However, with the name Sam Madison floating around (more on that in a second), the Giants could be inclined to beef up their thin linebacker corps with Florida St. LB Ernie Sims, who could actually be the safer pick. The third option for the pick is South Carolina safety Ko Simpson. This would be contingent upon the team’s dealings in free agency, however.

As I mentioned before, the G-Men are reportedly in hot pursuit of former Dolphins CB Sam Madison. At 31 years of age, Madison isn’t likely to get a long-term deal, but with the current state of the CBA, he should be on board for at least two years so a team doesn’t have to count his entire signing bonus against the 2006 cap.

Considering the Giants do ink Madison (and cut Petitgout and Emmons), they should have some remaining cap flexibility. Their rookie pool number won’t be cap-busting, since they pick 25th in each round. Maybe not enough room to ink Will Witherspoon or LaVar Arrington, but possibly enough to nail down a safety. Tebucky Jones, Adam Archuleta, and Chris Hope are among the top names at the position in free agency, though the Giants should avoid all three. With the current state of the secondary, they need a guy who can help out in coverage rather than stop the run.

Former Buc Dexter Jackson is the most inviting name on the list, and the Giants should pounce on him. Shaun Williams just doesn’t look to be working out, and Gibril Wilson’s viability is still up in the air. Jackson could provide some solidity to the last line of pass defense. Present a CBA extension, however, the G-Men might not be able to focus their attention on Jackson, because…

LaVar Arrington may be the man. With an additional $10 million in cap room, the Giants could easily have enough room to ink the up-and-down former Redskin. There is obviously some bad blood between he and his former team, as evidenced by him paying the team $4 million to release him. As such, he may be seeking additional compensation – and this notion is only furthered when you realize that his agents are the infamous Poston brothers. But if he really wants to stick it to the ‘Skins, the division-rival Giants could be an intriguing target for Arrington, but he’ll need a new CBA for that idea to come to fruition.

A final key to the off-season will be re-signing DT Kendrick Clancy. That will keep their front four optimal, with Clancy and William Joseph surrounded by Osi Umenyiora and Michael Strahan. Umenyiora still looks to be on the rise, as does Joseph, so barring a significant regression from Strahan, the Giants should continue to boast one of the top front four in the NFC.

Thankfully for the Giants, they’re pretty set on the offensive side of the ball, though they could use a third wide receiver for Amani Toomer’s eventual replacement. They have but one potential hole on the offensive line, Petitgout’s tackle spot, which as previously stated should be addressed in a deep draft. Tiki’s clock may be ticking, but the Giants have more pressing concerns than finding his heir.

Recap
Needs (in order of importance): CB, LB, OT, S, WR

Non-CBA Plan of Action
FA: Sam Madison, CB; Dexter Jackson, S
Draft: Marcus McNeil, OT; Ernie Sims, OLB

CBA POA
FA: Sam Madison, CB; LaVar Arrington, OLB
Draft: Marcus McNeil, OT; Ko Simpson, S

Contingency Plan
Will Witherspoon, OLB; Kevin Shaffer, OT; L.J. Shelton, OT (though he should re-up with the Browns in the coming days); Chris Hope, S