Giants actually add Josh Freeman

April, 16, 2014
Apr 16
Even after we spent the past couple of days discussing it here, and even after Matt Flynn went back to Green Bay and left Josh Freeman as the last man standing in the New York Giants' search for an extra quarterback for the offseason, it was still hard to believe it would happen. Freeman washed out of two organizations last year, and the one game he played for the Vikings after the Buccaneers cut him was hardly a helpful audition. You'll remember that "Monday Night Football" fiasco as the Giants' first victory of the season, and the fact Freeman obviously wasn't at all prepared to play in the game was the main reason they were able to stop their losing streak.

But they did it. The Giants have in fact agreed to terms with Freeman on a one-year deal, which means he'll likely be in the building next week when they start their offseason program and will be a candidate to take some of the snaps in OTAs and minicamp if starting quarterback Eli Manning's recovery from ankle surgery takes longer than expected.

I guess, if he shows something, Freeman could beat out Curtis Painter for the backup quarterback job. That assumes second-year project Ryan Nassib can't get into that mix, but given the level of his competition I don't know why he couldn't.

I know there isn't much out there on the quarterback market, and that Freeman was the best and most experienced of the candidates once Manning had surgery last week, and the Giants decided they needed to add a reserve quarterback. But if Freeman is on the 2014 Giants, I can't see how that helps them. Nothing we've heard about Freeman over the past year has indicated he'd be a useful backup. And while I'm willing to give him a pass for his ugly exit from Tampa Bay because I believe loony former Bucs coach Greg Schiano to have been at least as much at fault for their conflict as Freeman, it says a lot that he couldn't beat out Matt Cassel or Christian Ponder for playing time after the Vikings signed him in October. It also says a lot that this week was the first time any sort of market materialized for Freeman this offseason, given the state of the quarterback market.

So if you think Freeman is going to be some sort of diamond-in-the-rough signing for the Giants, or that having him on the team makes them better prepared to weather a potential Manning absence than they were yesterday, I'm going to take the opposite point of view. The best thing you can say about this move is that it probably can't hurt. But if the addition of Freeman has any impact on the Giants' 2014 season, they're in trouble.

Giants' last five drafts: 2011

April, 16, 2014
Apr 16
With the NFL draft still a relatively painful three weeks and one day away, we're taking a look this week at the New York Giants' last five drafts to see how much they've helped. Today we look at the 2011 draft, which saw the Giants pick a defensive back in the first round and then kind of flail around a bit.

The Picks

First round (19th overall): Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska

Second round (52): Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina

Third round (83): Jerrel Jernigan, WR, Troy

Fourth round (117): James Brewer, OT, Indiana

Sixth round (185): Greg Jones, LB, Michigan State

Sixth round (198): Tyler Sash, S, Iowa

Sixth round (202): Jacquian Williams, LB, South Florida

Seventh round (221): Da'Rel Scott, RB, Maryland

Still with Giants: Amukamara, Jernigan, Brewer, Williams

Still in NFL: Austin (Cowboys), Jones (Titans),

Games played with Giants

Amukamara: 36

Austin: 8

Jernigan: 36

Brewer: 24

Jones: 20

Sash: 29

Williams: 46

Scott: 20

Review: The Giants have already received more in terms of playing time and production from the second half of their 2011 draft class than they did from their 2009 and 2010 draft classes. Williams was a strong performer during the 2011 playoff run, especially in the NFC Championship Game victory in San Francisco, and could end up being a starter at linebacker this year with a good camp. Jernigan showed something as a Victor Cruz replacement in the final weeks of 2013. And Amukamara is a legitimate starting NFL cornerback. But all of that said, Austin was a swing-and-a-miss in the second round as an injury guy they hoped would work out. Brewer hasn't turned into anything in spite of repeated opportunities. And Jones, Sash and Scott were bit players at best at their peaks. Again, as we've discussed all week, you don't assume you're getting anything in those fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh rounds. But if you go three or four years without hitting on anything at all in those rounds, your roster gets thin in a hurry. If you've been following this series all week, you've seen that the Giants haven't turned up many helpers in the late rounds in the last half-decade. This draft was about Amukamara, a guy who fell to No. 19 in spite of pre-draft projections that had him in the top 10, and not much else.

Grade: D.

Josh Freeman, Giants agree to deal

April, 16, 2014
Apr 16

Quarterback Josh Freeman and the New York Giants have agreed to a one-year contract, according to a league source.

Freeman worked out for the Giants on Tuesday. He also recently visited the Chicago Bears.

Freeman will compete for the No. 2 job on the Giants with Curtis Painter and Ryan Nassib.

Eli Manning underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle Thursday but expects to be able to run again in about six weeks, the team previously announced. His 151 consecutive starts rate as the longest active streak in the NFL following the retirement of Washington's London Fletcher, and it is the third-longest by a quarterback in league history.

Freeman was cut by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in October. He was signed by the Minnesota Vikings and started just one game -- losing to the Giants on "Monday Night Football."

Freeman, 26, a first-round pick of the Buccaneers in 2009, started 56 games for the team. He enjoyed his best season in 2010, when he started 16 games and threw for 3,451 yards and 25 touchdowns with six interceptions. 

He has struggled since, throwing 43 interceptions over the past four seasons.

Adam Caplan is an ESPN NFL Insider.

(Read full post)

Eli Manning In Decline?

April, 16, 2014
Apr 16


Dan Graziano discusses QB Eli Manning's future with the Giants and whether he will have a bounce-back season.

NFL Nation Buzz: New York Giants

April, 16, 2014
Apr 16
video Giants reporter Dan Graziano says quarterback Eli Manning can do plenty to help his teammates while he recovers from ankle surgery.
Mike Sando has an interesting piece Insider on looking at which current NFL quarterbacks would be worth trading the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft. The premise is that the Houston Texans, who need a quarterback and have the No. 1 overall pick, are concerned about the quality of their choices and may opt not to take any of this year's quarterbacks No. 1 overall. So if, hypothetically, someone would trade them a quarterback for that pick, which quarterbacks would be worth it?

Mike asked ESPN analyst Bill Polian, scout Matt Williamson and an NFL GM which quarterbacks would be worth it. Polian and the GM both listed New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning among the answers. Matt did not, as Mike explains:
Williamson listed nearly as many quarterbacks (17) as the other two panelists combined, but he left off Manning after a brutal 2013 season.

"Eli did have a very unlucky year and he's had a lot going against him of late, but frankly, he hasn't played good football in a year and a half," Williamson said.

So Manning falls into Mike's "Close but note quite" category, behind the seven quarterbacks who fell into the "clearly worth a No. 1 overall pick" category. Those seven are Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson. Only two of those seven (Peyton Manning and Luck) actually were a No. 1 overall picks, as Eli Manning was.

I think if the Giants offered Eli Manning to the Texans for the No. 1 pick in this year's draft, the Texans would say yes before the Giants ended their first sentence. The question to you, Giants fans, is if you'd trade Eli Manning for this year's No. 1 pick.

I would not, personally. Making a deal like that would require the Giants to find a quarterback to replace Manning, and any of the quarterbacks available in this year's (or any year's) draft would count themselves lucky to have half the career Manning already has had. The Giants have a franchise quarterback -- something not even half of the teams in the league can claim. There's no price to be put on that.

But what do you think?

Giants' last five drafts: 2010

April, 15, 2014
Apr 15
With the NFL draft still more than an excruciating three weeks away, we are taking a look this week at the New York Giants' last five drafts. Today we look back at the 2010 draft, which saw the Giants swing for the fences in the first round and hit a home run.

The Picks

1st round (15th overall): Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida

2nd round (46th): Linval Joseph, DT, East Carolina

3rd round (76th): Chad Jones, S, LSU

4th round (115th): Phillip Dillard, LB, Nebraska

5th round (147th): Mitch Petrus, G, Arkansas

6th round (184th): Adrian Tracy, LB, William & Mary

7th round (221st): Matt Dodge, P, East Carolina

Still with Giants: Pierre-Paul

Still in NFL: Joseph (Vikings), Dillard (Chargers), Tracy (Cardinals)

Games played with Giants

Pierre-Paul: 63
Joseph: 57
Jones: 0
Dillard: 7
Petrus: 27
Tracy: 16
Dodge: 16

Review: Pierre-Paul and Joseph became standout players, and Joseph is gone only because the Giants decided not to pay him what the market was dictating for top defensive tackle talent this offseason. The two of them were critical components in the Giants' defensive line that helped deliver the franchise's fourth Super Bowl title following the 2011 season, and Pierre-Paul was one of the most dominant defensive players in the league that season and postseason. But after the first two rounds, this was a mess. Jones was promising, but unfortunately never got to have an NFL career as a result of a car accident that nearly killed him during that 2010 offseason. Dodge was their punter for his entire rookie season, but he'll always be remembered for failing to punt the ball out of bounds and allowing DeSean Jackson to run it back for a winning touchdown in the game that crushed their 2010 season. Dillard and Tracy add to the list of mid-round and late-round picks that haven't panned out for them over the past half-decade. If you hit on a couple of those, you're thought of as a good drafting team and you're able to build roster depth. If you hit on none of them, your roster hollows out over time, as the Giants' roster has. This draft will be thought of well if Pierre-Paul can overcome his physical issues and get himself back on the path to stardom. But with Joseph already playing elsewhere at the age of 25, the sad fact is that they didn't get much out of their seven picks in 2010.

Grade: D+

How well do the Giants pay?

April, 15, 2014
Apr 15
A look at the ESPN The Magazine/Sportingintelligence Global Salary Survey shows that NFL teams don't pay their players very much, at least compared with teams in other sports leagues around the world. This list ranks all of the professional sports teams in the world by average salary per player, and you'll see that the New York Giants this year came in at No. 139 worldwide with an average of $2,089,848 per player. That figure ranks the Giants 12th among NFL teams, just behind the Cincinnati Bengals and just ahead of the San Francisco 49ers. But the highest-ranking NFL team on this list (the Minnesota Vikings) ranks just 115th in the world in terms of average salary per player.

You can see an explanation of the methodology used to assemble this list here, and this here is a link to some charts showing the top-paid athletes in the world overall and by sport. Giants quarterback Eli Manning no longer ranks among the 10 highest-paid players in the NFL.

No team in the NFL has signed more free agents this offseason than the New York Giants, and they may not be done yet.

You already know about backup quarterback candidates Josh Freeman and Matt Flynn, who will visit the Giants on Tuesday because the team may need some help if Eli Manning takes longer than expected to recover from ankle surgery. But quarterback isn't the only spot at which the Giants are still looking to add depth at this late stage.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune spoke with former Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams, who is currently visiting with the Giants. Williams told the paper he had dinner Monday night with Giants defensive line coach Robert Nunn and would meet with Tom Coughlin and other Giants officials Tuesday.

Ironically, the reason Williams is no longer needed in Minnesota is because the Vikings signed defensive tackle Linval Joseph away from the Giants early in the free-agency period. Williams will turn 34 in August and is therefore considerably older than (a) Joseph and (b) nearly all of the other 25 free agents the Giants have signed this offseason. But there's some recent precedent for the Giants adding a respected veteran to their defensive tackle rotation. Shaun Rogers was that guy the last two offseasons. Currently, the rotation includes Cullen Jenkins, Johnathan Hankins, Mike Patterson and Markus Kuhn. It could use some help.

There was also a report Monday linking the Giants to oft-injured wide receiver Sidney Rice, who's apparently telling teams he's been cleared medically, but I am told not to expect the Giants to be serious bidders if a lot of other teams get involved on Rice. Could happen, and if healthy he'd fill a big need for them. But he's never healthy and I think the Giants just sort of checked in to see about the price.
In the wake of the surgery quarterback Eli Manning had on his ankle last week, the New York Giants are bringing in some veteran quarterbacks to have a look at them. Manning is hoping to be able to run by the end of May, and if that's the case he should be fine for the start of the team's offseason practices. But in case his recovery takes longer than expected -- or in case he's not able to participate in May and June drills to the extent he normally does -- the Giants know they may need a quarterback who can take some of the reps he has to miss.

To that end, the Giants will host former Buccaneers and Vikings quarterback Josh Freeman and former Packers quarterback Matt Flynn for visits Tuesday. There's a chance they could sign one of them. There's also a chance they could send them both home and either keep looking or just decide to stick with their current backups, Curtis Painter and Ryan Nassib. The Giants' preference would be that this all ends up unnecessary -- that Manning is fine in time for OTAs and they don't need Freeman, Flynn or any other outside help at quarterback. But there's no harm in looking, and there is plenty of potential harm in bring unprepared.

If I had to guess, I'd predict they sign Flynn. Freeman is the better player, the better athlete and the more accomplished NFL player, but Flynn worked with new Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo in Green Bay from 2008-11 and again last year. And Freeman is coming off a bad year in which questions surfaced about his off-field preparation habits. If the Giants were looking for someone to play games at quarterback for them, Freeman might make more sense. But if all they're looking for is a willing backup who'll take whatever reps come his way for however long Manning has to sit out, Flynn is probably the safer play. But we'll see. You might have an answer by this time Tuesday.

Giants' last five drafts: 2009

April, 14, 2014
Apr 14
With the NFL draft still, painfully, more than three weeks away, we'll spend each day this week reviewing one of the New York Giants' last five drafts. Working from back to front, we'll start five years ago. The 2009 draft followed a 12-4 season that ended with Plaxico Burress' self-inflicted gunshot wound and a disappointing divisional-round playoff exit that robbed the Giants of a chance to win consecutive Super Bowls. Burress was headed off to jail, and they needed a wide receiver.

The Picks

1st round (29th overall): Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina
2nd round (45): Clint Sintim, LB, Virginia
2nd round (60): Will Beatty, OT, Connecticut
3rd round (85): Ramses Barden, WR, Cal Poly-SLO
3rd round (100): Travis Beckum, TE, Wisconsin
4th round (129): Andre Brown, RB, NC State
5th round (151): Rhett Bomar, QB, Sam Houston State
6th round (200): DeAndre Wright, CB, New Mexico
7th round (238): Stoney Woodson, CB, South Carolina

Still with the Giants: Beatty

Still in NFL: Nicks (Colts), Barden (Bills), Beckum (Seahawks), Brown (Texans)

Games played for Giants

Nicks: 74
Sintim: 24
Beatty: 66
Barden: 29
Beckum: 52
Brown: 18
Bomar: 0
Wright: 0
Woodson: 0

Review: Nicks was a top receiver in the NFL for significant portions of the early part of his career, and a huge contributor to the Super Bowl title the Giants won following the 2011 season. He is no longer on the team because he flopped in his 2013 contract year and upset the team with his cavalier attitude about his poor play. The Giants made no attempt to sign him in free agency. The only other player from this draft who played for the Giants during the 2011-12 postseason was Beckum. (Beatty and Barden were injured, the others no longer on the team.) Beckum was a contributor as a special teamer and a blocking tight end, but little more. Beatty is signed for four more years as the franchise left tackle because he was a free agent after a strong 2012 season. Sintim was a complete flop of a relatively high pick. Brown's contribution came late in his Giants tenure and was marred by injury, and the Giants replaced him in free agency this year with Rashad Jennings. Obviously, there were no late-round diamonds in the rough uncovered by Jerry Reese & Co. in 2009. All in all, the impact of this draft comes down to the high-level production Nicks delivered in the 2010 and 2011 seasons, plus the one strong year Beatty has had so far in 2012. Other than Nicks, this draft had almost nothing to do with the Super Bowl title, and its long-term impact now rests completely on the ability of Beatty to play much better than he did in 2013.

Grade: C+
People always ask for predictions -- yes, even this early and sometimes earlier. I don't do NFL season predictions in April. Or May or June or even July. I wait until August, when a) it's asked of me by my employer, and b) we know who's made the teams. My August predictions tend to stink anyway, so it constantly mystifies me that people continue to ask for my April ones.

But others are more secure in themselves, and among those others is the esteemed KC Joyner, who opined last week that the New York Giants of 2014 are improved enough over the 2013 edition to win at least 10 games and make the playoffs in this upcoming season:
That the Giants were able to win seven games last season despite horrible luck and a slew of injuries unprecedented in the past decade speaks to just how incredibly effective their coaching staff is at working around problems. Given the wide variety of upgrades listed above and the talent this team can bring home in the draft, Tom Coughlin and company likely won't have to perform any miracles in 2014.

That conclusion comes at the end of a detailed statistics-based analysis that discusses everything from the offensive line upgrades to the factors that led to Eli Manning's huge interception total to something as nitty-gritty as "down set conversion rate," a measure of sequential offense in which the Giants ranked last in the NFL in 2013. It's good stuff, though it's Insider, so we'll ask you to pay to read the rest.

But I want to make two points on this, and the first is about K.C.'s bona fides on Giants predictions. Two years ago, when everyone was all excited about what the Eagles were doing in free agency and a lot of us (myself definitely included) were writing that the Giants hadn't done enough to improve their roster in the offseason, K.C. predicted a 2011 NFC East title for the Giants. That prediction came true, albeit with a 9-7 record that was only two games better than the one they turned in last year, and the Giants went on to win the Super Bowl. So K.C. has a good recent history of figuring out how good the Giants are, even from a few months out.

The second point, however, is about the premise for his conclusion. I think it's true that the Giants' 7-3 finish in 2013 after their 0-6 start is a testament to the strength of an outstanding coaching staff and Coughlin's leadership. But I also think that, in spite of all of the bad luck K.C. references, that 7-3 stretch came with plenty of good luck as well. The only game in which the Vikings started a woefully unprepared Josh Freeman at quarterback was against the Giants. The only game after September in which Nick Foles wasn't able to play quarterback for the Eagles (and in which Matt Barkley had to take the bulk of the snaps) was against the Giants. One of the two games in which the Packers had to start Scott Tolzien at quarterback was against the Giants. One of the three games in which the Redskins started Kirk Cousins at quarterback was against the Giants.

My point is that, yes, the Giants should be commended for continuing to play hard and finding a way to win games in situations that see other teams (including some against which they played in December) roll over and quit. But I think one of the results of that effort was a 7-9 record that was considerably better than the quality of team the 2013 Giants actually were. I think the extent of the roster overhaul they've undertaken this offseason indicates the front office's agreement with this theory, and so the idea that they had a 7-9 team that only needs to get three games better to reach the playoffs may be a bit inaccurate.

I think this could go either way. The number of changes the Giants made this offseason is huge, and it's hard to imagine every single one of them (or even, really, half of them) working out in accordance with their best-case dreams. I can certainly posit that they've made their team better, but I think there's still plenty of debate to be had about (a) how much better and (b) how far they really need to go to reach the playoffs. Anyone who reads me knows that I'm a big believer in Coughlin and the Giants' institutional leadership, but in the end, the quality of the roster matters more. There are still a lot of questions to be answered on that front by these Giants.
Herewith, our weekly presentation of the four best New York Giants Twitter questions I got this week using the #nygmail hashtag. Enjoy.