New York Giants: Domenik Hixon

There was always hope for Domenik Hixon, and a feeling that if he could just stay healthy he might make a valuable NFL wide receiver. The New York Giants always liked him as a good guy, a good special teams player and a receiver with promise. He caught 43 passes for 596 yards and two touchdowns during a 2008 season most of which the Giants spent as the best team in the NFL. And he owns two Giants Super Bowl rings, though he didn't catch a pass in Super Bowl XLII and he was on injured reserve for Super Bowl XLVI.

Hixon had problems with his right knee -- namely, he couldn't keep its ACL intact. He tore it in 2010 and 2011 and he has torn it again while prepping to play this season for the Chicago Bears. Hixon indicated in announcing his latest injury that he likely would retire.

Former Giant Terrell Thomas and current Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis are thought to be the only players to recover from three ACL surgeries and continue playing in the NFL. It's a tough road, and Hixon is 29 years old and likely uninterested in walking it. The occasion of his disappointing announcement likely strikes a chord with Giants fans who enjoyed what he gave to the team, even as they and he always wished his body would have let him give more.

Camp preview: Special teams

July, 20, 2013
As training camp approaches, we're counting down to camp by taking a look at the Giants, position by position.

Position: Special teams.

Projected starters: K Josh Brown, P Steve Weatherford, LS Zak DeOssie, KR David Wilson, PR Rueben Randle.

Projected reserves: K David Buehler, KR/PR Jerrel Jernigan, PR Aaron Ross, PR Jayron Hosley.

[+] Enlarge David Wilson
Jim O'Connor/USA TODAY SportsDavid Wilson is an elite kick returner -- but is it worth the injury risk?
New faces: Brown, Buehler, Ross.

Going, going, gone: K Lawrence Tynes, PR Domenik Hixon.

Player to watch: Brown. The Giants brought him in to replace Tynes, who had been with the team for the past six years. Brown is a career 81.3 percent kicker, and has hit field goals from 52 yards or longer in nine of his 10 NFL seasons. Tynes was clutch, though, and had the valuable experience of knowing how to play in the Meadowlands weather. Brown will have to learn the nuances of the stadium and climate, beat out Buehler in camp, and develop the kind of chemistry Tynes had with DeOssie and Weatherford. That shouldn't be a problem, though.

Potential strength: Weatherford has been rock-solid and that shouldn’t change this season. And the Giants' coverage units went from a major weakness in 2010 to a prime strength the past couple of years. DeOssie, Mark Herzlich and Spencer Paysinger are among those who shine on coverage units. And those units should only get better with the addition of athletic young players like fifth-round draft pick Cooper Taylor.

Potential weakness: Punt returns. Giants punt returners have offered little the past couple of seasons, and the team really could use somebody reliable and exciting back there. Randle is the leading candidate, but Jernigan, Ross and Hosley all could get looks in the preseason. The Giants averaged 7.2 yards per punt return last season.

Wild card: Wilson. He was sensational as the team's kick returner last year. But now he is projected to start at running back, and the Giants must weigh the risk of using the 5-foot-9 Wilson at kick returner as well. Wilson wants to continue doing it. If the Giants don’t want to risk their starting running back, perhaps they could use Wilson there on a situational basis. If Wilson doesn’t return kicks, Jernigan could become the starter. Da’Rel Scott also could get chances in camp to return kickoffs. But having a guy like Wilson, who amassed 1,533 kickoff return yards and a return touchdown last season, is a major asset.

Tell us what you think of the special teams unit entering camp.

Camp preview: Wide receivers

July, 17, 2013

As training camp approaches, we're counting down to camp by taking a look at the Giants, position by position.

Position: Wide receiver.

Projected starters: Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz.

[+] EnlargeEli Manning and Hakeem Nicks
Jim O'Conno/USA TODAY SportsEli Manning and the Giants will have reason to smile if Hakeem Nicks is healthy in 2013.
Projected reserves: Rueben Randle, Louis Murphy, Jerrel Jernigan, Ramses Barden.

New faces: Murphy, Brandon Collins, Jeremy Horne, Kris Adams, Kevin Hardy, Keith Carlos.

The departed: Domenik Hixon.

Player to watch: How important is Nicks? Though their defensive struggles were a major factor in the Giants' disappointing 2012, a healthy Nicks could've been the difference between the Giants winning 10 games and making the playoffs and winning nine games and missing the postseason. Nicks, who missed three games and struggled with foot and knee injuries, opens things up for Cruz and will be highly motivated to excel in a contract year. If Nicks is healthy again, the Giants and Eli Manning should be running on all cylinders.

Potential strength: The Giants could potentially be as deep as they have been at wide receiver in some time. Nicks and Cruz make up one of the best receiving tandems in the NFL, and offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride raved about Randle's progress during OTAs and minicamp. On top of that, the Giants believe Murphy has the type of speed to give them an over-the-top threat that could make an already dangerous passing attack even more potent. During OTAs, the Giants worked on the long ball with Murphy while Cruz and Nicks skipped the voluntary workouts. They are also hoping Jernigan can provide another speedy option from time to time.

Potential weakness: Health is always a concern with the Giants. But when one receiver goes down, Manning usually makes things work with the next receiver in line. One potential weakness is experience. Super Bowl champions Nicks and Cruz have caught big-time passes on the biggest stage there is. But outside of that duo, the Giants don't have a ton of experience at receiver. Randle had just 19 catches during his rookie season. Murphy has started a total of six games in the last two seasons. Jernigan and Barden have limited experience as well, although Barden delivered in a start against Carolina last year.

Wild card: Randle showed in the season finale against Philadelphia last year that the Giants could have another potent receiving trio, like the one they had with Nicks, Cruz and Mario Manningham. The last time Manning had that at his disposal, he won his second Super Bowl MVP trophy.

Tell us what you think of the Giants' receivers entering camp.

Barden's back: WR re-signs with Giants

May, 23, 2013
Ramses Barden was back in the building on Thursday, smiling and hugging people.

The Giants' third-round pick in 2009 re-signed with the Giants. The Giants can use another body at receiver. Remember, they replaced Domenik Hixon with Louis Murphy but never really replaced Barden until now.

The Giants have Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle, Murphy, Jerrel Jernigan and Barden at receiver. They also have Kris Adams, Brandon Collins, Kevin Hardy and Jeremy Horne on the roster right now as well.

Don't read too much into Barden's signing when it comes to the Giants' ability to lock up Cruz and Nicks.

Rather, I think the Giants can use the extra experienced body. Cruz may not be at voluntary OTAs due to his contract. And Nicks will be limited as he makes sure he will be 100 percent healthy for camp. Certainly doesn't hurt adding Barden.

Tell us how you feel about Barden returning.

Barden could re-sign with Giants

May, 22, 2013
Ramses Barden could be on the verge of rejoining the New York Giants.

A source confirmed that Barden is expected to be at the team facility on Thursday and he could re-sign with the Giants. The New York Daily News first reported that Barden will undergo a physical and if all goes well, the 6-6 receiver is expected to return.

Barden said earlier in the offseason that it was probably time for a change for the receiver drafted in the third round by the Giants in 2009. But he remains unsigned.

The Giants signed Louis Murphy during free agency. And with the loss of Domenik Hixon to Carolina, the Giants could use another body for depth at receiver.

Victor Cruz has not participated in the voluntary OTAs while he tries to work out a long-term extension with the Giants. Hakeem Nicks, who is entering the final year of his deal, was absent from Wednesday's OTA practice to the surprise of Tom Coughlin. Nicks had participated in previous offseason activities with the team and even if he does participate in future voluntary OTAs, he will likely take it slow coming off a minor offseason procedure on his knee.

So Rueben Randle, Jerrel Jernigan and Murphy will see added snaps in the meantime and perhaps Barden will join the mix shortly.

Barden had nine receptions for 138 yards in a start against Carolina last year but only finished with 14 catches for 220 yards on the season.

How do you guys feel about a Barden reunion? Let us know below.

Draft positional preview: Special teams

April, 20, 2013
This is the sixth installment in a position-by-position analysis of the Giants as they prepare for the draft:

Position: Special teams.

Depth chart: P Steve Weatherford, K Josh Brown, K David Buehler, P/K Jake Rogers, LS Zak DeOssie, KR David Wilson, KR Andre Brown, KR Jerrel Jernigan, PR Rueben Randle.

The departed: K Lawrence Tynes (free agent), PR Domenik Hixon (Carolina).

Scouting report: The Giants are solid at punter with Weatherford, who averaged 47.5 yards per punt last season and landed 22 of 58 punts inside the 20. Long snapper and special teams captain DeOssie adds stability and chemistry on special teams as well. But the unit will have a major change at kicker.

[+] EnlargeJosh Brown
AP Photo/Patric SchneiderJosh Brown is the leading candidate to be the Giants' kicker next season, replacing Lawrence Tynes.
The Giants are moving on without Tynes, signing three other kickers (Brown, Buehler and Rogers). Brown is expected to be the man, but Buehler should have an opportunity to compete for the job. Brown, 33, has had a season-long field goal of 52 yards or longer in each of his 10 seasons, with a career long of 58 yards, which was during his rookie season in 2003. He has made 81.3 percent of his kicks and averages 64.1 yards on kickoffs.

Buehler averages 66.8 yards on kickoffs and made 24 of 32 field goals in 2010, his only season kicking field goals, for the Cowboys. He has a career long of 53 yards.

After kicker, the Giants have some uncertainty in their return game. Wilson was electric on kickoffs last season, amassing 1,533 return yards and one touchdown. But his workload at running back is going to increase, and the Giants have to consider how much they want to risk their prized running back on kickoffs. If they opt not to use him, the Giants could turn to Jernigan or Brown on kickoffs.

Randle averaged 7.2 yards per punt return last year. He could be the punt returner again. Jernigan is also an option here. Aaron Ross has return experience and could be in the mix if the Giants want to try somebody else. Also, cornerback Jayron Hosley was a punt returner at Virginia Tech.

The coverage teams were strong last year with the likes of DeOssie, Mark Herzlich and Spencer Paysinger all contributing.

The last time: The Giants have not drafted a kicker or punter since 2010, when they took punter Matt Dodge in the seventh round.

Potential targets: Perhaps the most well-known prospect with dynamic return skills in the draft is LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu, who was a Heisman Trophy candidate before being dismissed from LSU. The cornerback comes with baggage, but he would have a ready and willing mentor in Corey Webster, a former LSU star who already has taken Mathieu under his wing.

“On the field he is a good player,” general manager Jerry Reese said this week. “Obviously, he has got some off-the-field issues that have been well-documented. So we’ll put all the pros and cons together and see if he fits anywhere for us.”

The Giants could use a cornerback, and Mississippi State cornerback Johnthan Banks is one of the top corners in the draft and also has a return touchdown on his résumé as well. Another potential top-10 cornerback is Southeastern Louisiana’s Robert Alford, who also has return experience. Texas A&M cornerback Dustin Harris led the country in punt return yardage, and Hawaii cornerback Mike Edwards returned three kickoffs for touchdowns last season.

Utah wide receiver Reggie Dunn might be the most explosive kick returner in the entire draft. The All-American returner, who was reportedly clocked at 4.2 in the 40 at Utah's pro day, has more 100-yard kickoff returns (5) than anybody else in NCAA history and had four last year alone. He sports a career average of 30.9 yards per kickoff return. The Giants could add one more receiver for depth as well.

Other prospects with return ability are Mississippi State wide receiver Chad Bumphis, Alcorn State wide receiver Terrance Lewis, UConn wide receiver Nick Williams, Central Arkansas wide receiver Jesse Grandy, South Carolina wide receiver Ace Sanders and NC State wide receiver Tobais Palmer.

Need rating (scale of 1 to 10): 4 (for a player with return ability).

Tell us what you think of the Giants' special teams entering the draft, and what they should do to improve.

Draft positional preview: Wide receiver

April, 17, 2013
Hakeem NicksJim O'Connor/US PRESSWIREIt's imperative that the Giants get Hakeem Nicks back to his best in 2013.
This is the third installment in a position-by-position analysis of the Giants as they prepare for the draft:

Position: Wide receiver.

Depth chart: Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz (restricted free agent tender), Rueben Randle, Louis Murphy, Jerrel Jernigan, Brandon Collins, Kris Adams, Kevin Hardy.

The departed: Domenik Hixon (Carolina), Ramses Barden (free agent).

Scouting report: Nicks was severely limited by injuries last season, and it is imperative that the Giants get their lead receiver back to full strength. Nicks’ big-play ability was missing last season and Eli Manning and the offense suffered without it. Cruz will benefit even more from a healthy Nicks with more room to operate. We’ll have to see how Cruz’s contract situation impacts the receiver if it does at all this season.

The Giants need a third receiver to emerge, and Randle showed in the season finale that he can be that guy. The Giants will need the second-year receiver to continue to improve and work hard toward being what Mario Manningham was for the Giants. Jerry Reese is excited about the prospects of what Murphy might add to the offense as a speedy deep threat. Jernigan is entering his third season and has a chance to see snaps as a fourth receiver. He could also factor in as the team’s kickoff and punt returner.

The last time: The Giants selected Randle in the second round in 2012.

Potential targets: With Nicks, Cruz and Randle, the Giants are set at receiver for this season. But the future isn’t as certain with Nicks entering the final year of his deal and Cruz set to become an unrestricted free agent after this season. The Giants are hoping to lock up both receivers with long-term extensions but money will be an issue. The Giants could also use their franchise tag on Cruz in 2014 if the two sides are unable to agree on an deal.

Still, if the Giants are worried that they might not be able to lock down one of their star receivers, they could draft one. They have much bigger needs (offensive line, pass rusher, cornerback) to address than receiver with the 19th pick. But if Tennessee’s Cordarrelle Patterson or West Virginia’s Tavon Austin were to be there when the Giants select, could one of them be the best player available on Jerry Reese’s board at the time?

The Giants were intrigued by Patterson’s immense potential during the combine, according to a source.

A speedy receiver with return ability would seem to make more sense later in the draft. The Giants could use another receiver for depth with Hixon gone and Barden unsigned.

Need rating (scale of 1 to 10): 4.

Draft preview: Giants defense/special teams

April, 16, 2013
At the end of the Giants' failed 2012 title defense, Jerry Reese made it clear that he felt the roster was not "that far off" from contending again.

But the disappointed general manager said his team "will look a little differently" in 2013. As the Giants near next week's draft, Reese's defense will definitely sport a different look.

Osi Umenyiora, Kenny Phillips, Chris Canty, Michael Boley and Chase Blackburn are gone.

Former Eagles Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson are now Giants run-stuffers. Dan Connor is projected to start at middle linebacker and Aaron Ross is back in the secondary.

Despite cap constraints, Reese made a concerted effort to try to fortify a defense that finished 31st overall and 25th against the run last season. That effort will continue next week when Reese will add more defensive players.

When Reese selected running back David Wilson and wide receiver Rueben Randle last year, it was the first time the Giants did not draft a defensive player in the first two rounds since 2004.

It would be a surprise if Reese goes offense again with his first two picks. While the Giants have a need at offensive line and could opt to take a lineman early, Reese can use another pass-rusher.

Umenyiora is gone and Justin Tuck is entering the final year of his deal. And we know how much Reese values his defensive ends and how he has no issue spending a first-round pick on one.

The Giants pick 19th overall and it remains to be seen what the caliber of defensive ends will be when Reese is on the clock.

Ends like BYU's Ezekiel Ansah and LSU's Barkevious Mingo are expected to be long gone. But Florida State's Bjoern Werner and Cornellius Carradine, UCLA's Datone Jones, SMU's Margus Hunt and LSU's Sam Montgomery are among the defensive ends who could go in the first two rounds.

If Reese feels the quality of pass-rushers available at 19 are not that much better than what he might be able to get in the second round, the GM could opt to plug another area at 19.

The Giants are stocked at defensive tackle with Linval Joseph, Jenkins, Patterson, Shaun Rogers, Marvin Austin and Markus Kuhn. But Reese has never been one to shy away from taking the best player available on his board, regardless of position, and the defensive tackle position is considered to be deep in this draft.

But Reese has other areas of concern on defense. The cornerback play was shaky last season and the future at the position remains a concern with Corey Webster, Ross and Terrell Thomas, who is making a third comeback from an ACL injury, all on one-year deals.

So drafting a cornerback, potentially high, to go with young corners Prince Amukamara and Jayron Hosley makes sense for the future. That's why Washington’s Desmond Trufant, who could be available at 19, is intriguing. Houston's D.J. Hayden, Boise State's Jamar Taylor, UConn's Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Florida State's Xavier Rhodes, Mississippi State's Johnthan Banks and Darius Slay all could be options in the first three rounds. And of course, there's LSU's Tyrann Mathieu, who comes with his share of talent and baggage.

The Giants will move forward this season at linebacker without Boley and Blackburn –- two players who helped the Giants win the Super Bowl in 2011 and were valuable extensions of Perry Fewell on the field in the past.

Fans will continue their annual call for Reese to add a stud linebacker early. Georgia's Alec Ogletree and Notre Dame’s Manti Te'o have been linked often by draft prognosticators to the Giants. But the franchise hasn't spent a first-round pick on a linebacker since selecting Carl Banks in 1984. So if the Giants opt to pass on linebacker in the first round, they could look to take one later in the draft.

The Giants seem set at safety for this season with Antrel Rolle, Stevie Brown, Will Hill, Ryan Mundy and Tyler Sash. But Brown is playing this season on a one-year restricted free-agent tender and it is always possible Reese could draft a safety for the future with Phillips gone and Rolle's contract expiring after 2014.

On special teams, the Giants are moving on without Lawrence Tynes after signing kickers Josh Brown, David Buehler and kicker/punter Jake Rogers in the offseason. Punter Steve Weatherford and long-snapper Zak DeOssie return.

The Giants, though, can always use a dynamic punt returner and they could look to add a receiver or cornerback with return skills in the draft with Domenik Hixon gone. A returner on kickoffs also makes sense since Wilson's workload at running back will increase.

Tell us how you feel about the defense and special teams entering the draft.

RFA movement, but Cruz still waits

April, 10, 2013
There's movement in the restricted free agent receiver world but it doesn't involve Victor Cruz.

The New England Patriots signed Pittsburgh RFA receiver Emmanuel Sanders to an offer sheet, a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. Schefter reports that the offer sheet is for one year and that "the money in the offer sheet won't scare Pittsburgh." But the Steelers have five days to decide whether to match or let Sanders walk. If the Steelers don't match, they will receive a third-round pick from New England as compensation.

The RFA market had been quiet until now. Cruz, the Giants' biggest RFA, is hoping to strike a deal on a long-term extension with the Giants but the two sides have been apart. If a team wants to try to pry Cruz away from the Giants, it can make the receiver a lucrative offer -- one that likely would have to surpass $7 million a year -- by April 19. But any team hoping to land Cruz not only has to have cap space but also has to be ready to part with a first-round pick in case the Giants opt not to match.

That likely makes Cruz too pricey for any suitor. In that case, Cruz could opt to sign his one-year RFA tender for $2.879 million and then continue to work on an extension with the Giants or become an unrestricted free agent next year.

While the Patriots reportedly didn't break the bank for Sanders, they know the Steelers could decide to take the third-round pick knowing that Sanders can leave next year as an unrestricted free agent. So a one-year deal and a third-round pick seems to be an acceptable price for Sanders.

While Cruz is certainly worth a lucrative contract, a first-round pick to go with that contract likely would be hard for any team to swallow. However, if a team were to decide that Cruz was worth it, the Giants very well could take the first-round pick as compensation if they felt the offer sheet was too expensive for their taste. Remember, Jerry Reese values his picks and the Giants still hope to lock Hakeem Nicks down to a long-term extension.

Still, the odds favor that Cruz will remain a Giant for at least one more season and that both sides will continue to work on a potential deal. We just have to wait nine more days to see what happens.

Edelman re-signs: It is a busy day for the Patriots, who re-signed Julian Edelman as well.

The Giants had Edelman in for a visit last week and Edelman would have been a nice addition as a receiver who can excel in the slot and return punts and kickoffs. The Giants are looking for veterans for minimum deals and they will have to continue to search for bargains to fill out the roster. They currently have Nicks, Cruz, Rueben Randle, Louis Murphy and Jerrel Jernigan at receiver. Domenik Hixon signed with Carolina and Ramses Barden remains an unrestricted free agent.

Tell us how you are feeling about Cruz with nine days left for teams to make an RFA offer.

Hixon opts for Carolina; Edelman visits

April, 3, 2013
Free-agent receiver Domenik Hixon is following linebacker Chase Blackburn to Carolina.

[+] EnlargeJulian Edelman
AP Photo/Charlie RiedelJulian Edelman (11) and the Patriots squared off against the Giants in Super Bowl XLVI.
The Giants are meeting with Patriots free-agent receiver Julian Edelman on Wednesday and Thursday, according to a source. Edelman would be a nice replacement for Hixon, who will sign a one-year deal with the Panthers, ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter confirmed.

Edelman was scheduled to have dinner with coaches Wednesday night and then will visit the team facility on Thursday. A source also confirmed that former Houston center Antoine Caldwell, who has started 19 games in four seasons for the Texans, is also visiting this week with the Giants.

Hixon was the Giants' fourth receiver and a sure-handed returner. Hixon -- who had 39 receptions for 567 yards and two touchdowns and was the team's punt returner by the end of the season -- joins Blackburn and Dave Gettleman, who left the Giants as the team's pro personnel guru to become the Panthers' GM.

The Giants currently have Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle, Jerrel Jernigan and Louis Murphy, but can use another receiver.

Edelman would give the Giants an experienced returner on punts and kickoffs and a player who can excel in the slot and provide insurance if anything were to happen with Cruz, who is a restricted free agent.

Edelman had 21 receptions for 235 yards and three touchdowns and started in three games last season before suffering a foot injury in December. He is expected to be ready for training camp. The Patriots, though, likely want to re-sign Edelman and might be able to offer more than the Giants, who have been looking to sign productive free agents for minimum-type deals.

Tell us what you think of Hixon leaving and the Giants looking at Edelman.

Hightower to visit with Giants

March, 28, 2013
The Giants continue to scour the market for bargains as they'll bring in Tim Hightower for a visit.

A source confirmed that the former Redskins and Cardinals running back will meet with the Giants as first reported by the New York Daily News.

Hightower hasn't played in a regular-season game since Oct. 23, 2011 after tearing his ACL.

The Giants will take a look to see how his knee has healed and if he can compete for perhaps the third running back spot behind David Wilson and Andre Brown. The Giants currently have Da'Rel Scott and Ryan Torain behind their top two backs.

Hightower, 26, has scored a total of 25 touchdowns in his four-year career. He has rushed for 2,054 yards and 24 touchdowns and is a receiving threat out of the backfield. He had 63 receptions in 2009 with the Cardinals.

Bradshaw and Hixon looking: Ahmad Bradshaw was scheduled to visit with the Steelers on Wednesday, ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter reported.

Wide receiver Domenik Hixon, a free agent, was scheduled to visit with the Raiders according to CBS Sports.

Notebook: Murphy is a 'knife'

March, 19, 2013
Jerry Reese believes Louis Murphy will add a new dimension to the Giants' offense.

The Giants made the Murphy free-agent signing official Tuesday and Reese thinks his new wideout will help spread the field for Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz.

"He will add another dimension to our offense," Reese said on SiriusXM NFL radio. "We have a scout named Jeremiah Davis and he talks about guys being a knife. This guy is a knife. This guy can take the top off your defense. If we have Nicks back healthy and we have Cruz back, this guy gives you a deep threat that we haven't had, like a guy who can run like this guy."

[+] EnlargeLouis Murphy
Grant Halverson/Getty ImagesThe Giants hope Louis Murphy can stretch the field.
Murphy was signed to add depth with Domenik Hixon and Ramses Barden both free agents.

Mum on Cruz: As expected, Reese didn't have much to say about Cruz's contract situation.

"It is inappropriate for me to talk too much about Victor," Reese said about his restricted free-agent receiver. "One thing I can say is he is a terrific young man and a terrific football player. We are hoping for that situation to work out."

Tight end talk: Reese may have a new starting tight end for the fourth straight year, but he believes tight ends coach Mike Pope won't have to do a lot of teaching and training with Brandon Myers, who signed last weekend to replace Martellus Bennett.

"In the past, we have given Mike some young kids," Reese said. "He had Kevin Boss, he had Jake Ballard, Martellus Bennett hadn't played a lot. This guy [Myers] has played quite a bit, he caught 79 balls in Oakland. So there is not a lot of training. He is quarterback friendly. He catches 80 balls and people don't really know that much about him. We think he will be a great piece to our offense and we think Eli [Manning] will have a relationship with him really quickly."

JPP of TEs: Reese expects Adrien Robinson -- the "JPP of tight ends" -- to "make a jump" this season after spending his rookie season developing his game.

"The guy is 280 pounds, he ran a 4.57 at his pro day," Reese said. "We think he can develop into a terrific blocker. In practice, he flashed some things that were ... like some wild things in practice. We're expecting him to make a jump this season and get in there and give us some contributions as our big blocking tight end, and he can catch the ball really nice. We expect to bring him along and hopefully he will contribute for us."

Free-agency strategy: Reese says people ask him what his strategy is when it comes to free agency.

"I don't think there is a template," he said. "Some years you have more money than other years and you think. 'I can get out and strike quickly.' I remember one year we went out and got Antrel Rolle and then another year we went out and got [Chris] Canty and [Michael] Boley and we went out and got a center [David Baas] one time.

"So you have to strike when you can, but other times you have to sit back and wait and let the market settle down a little bit," he continued. "There are three levels of free agency. ... (You) have the first level; you get the guys out there who [are] going to get the money right away. Then there is a second level and then you can bottom feed on the guys left at the end."

Analysis: Giants' weekend moves

March, 18, 2013
The Giants were busy over the weekend, signing tight end Brandon Myers, linebacker Dan Connor and wide receiver Louis Murphy.

None of the signings are blockbuster moves but they are all solid additions and all likely done at reasonable prices. Remember, the Giants have cap limitations and are looking to add young talent with upside and players who might shine with bigger opportunities at a reasonable price.

Let’s take a quick look at each of the new Giants:

TE Brandon Myers

Outside of the Cullen Jenkins’ addition before free agency began, this might be the sexiest move –- if there is such a thing for the Giants in free agency -- Jerry Reese makes in this free agency. Martellus Bennett’s departure left a void at tight end and the Giants replaced him with a tight end who has upside and has proven that he can clearly be an asset in the passing game.

The 6-3 tight end is coming off a breakout season with 79 receptions for 806 yards and four touchdowns -– the best year of his four-year career. Last year, Myers, 27, had nine games in which he finished with five catches or more. He got hot during the middle of the season with five straight games of at least five catches. He caught all four of his TDs during that stretch, which finished with a 14-catch, 130-yard, one-touchdown performance against Cleveland.

But, in the final four games of the season, Myers only had a total of 10 catches for 85 yards. The biggest question surrounding Myers is his blocking ability. Myers will have to block in order to stay on the field for multiple downs so they have the threat of running on first and second down or pass.

Tight ends coach Mike Pope will work with Myers, the Giants’ fourth starting tight end in as many years. Bear Pascoe will continue in his role as hybrid blocking tight end. And the Giants will continue to develop last year's fourth-round pick Adrien Robinson. But the potential hookup of Eli Manning to Myers is something to look forward to if Myers can block well enough to stay on the field as long as possible.


The Giants’ signing of Connor likely means free agent Chase Blackburn is moving on. Connor had 57 tackles in 14 games with eight starts last year for the Cowboys. In 2011, he had 75 tackles in 15 games and 11 starts for the Panthers.

The Giants said in the team’s press release of Connor’s signing that he will play middle linebacker. He is going to have to come in and learn Perry Fewell’s system and he will be replacing the one player Fewell considered as an extension of himself on the field. Fewell trusted Blackburn to always make the right calls.

Connor has some big shoes to fill from that perspective. Under Fewell’s defense, Connor could end up playing two downs and then when the Giants go to their coverage packages, Fewell could go with three safeties and use speedy linebackers Jacquian Williams and Keith Rivers.

Considering the Giants weren’t going to spend a ton on linebacker, the Connor move seems like a solid addition. But we’re going to have to wait and see how Connor does on the field in Fewell’s system –- something which Blackburn may have known better than any other Giant.


Murphy will see the least amount of playing time of the three signings with Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle ahead of him. Murphy was signed to improve the Giants’ depth and as a young player that the Giants might be able to develop at the slot.

Murphy has slot experience and the Giants can protect themselves by developing Murphy and Jerrel Jernigan at the slot in case Cruz ends up leaving in the future. Cruz, a restricted free agent who was tendered with a first-round RFA tender, likely will be around for at least this season and the Giants will continue to work to keep Cruz around for a long time. But it doesn’t hurt to continue to develop other young receivers.

Murphy had 25 receptions for 336 yards and one touchdown last year for Carolina. His best seasons came in his first two years with Oakland when he had 34 catches for 521 yards and four touchdowns in 2009 and 41 catches for 609 yards and two touchdowns in 2010.

With Domenik Hixon and Ramses Barden both free agents, the Giants needed to add another body at receiver. They still likely need another receiver.

Tell us what you think of the Giants’ three signings over the weekend.

Giants free agent tracker

March, 12, 2013
Here's our home for the Giants' free agency tracker. We'll keep updating this particular blog to keep you on top of the Giants' moves and where Giants' free agents are going. Also, check out ESPN's free agency tracker with all the free agents. You can sort by team and position.

Remember, the Giants don't have a ton of cap space and likely have some maneuvering to do. So they aren't expected to be big-time spenders in free agency. Keeping their own key free agents and maybe adding some cheap veterans or some young unproven players with potential is a likely route for the Giants to take in free agency.


T Will Beatty -- Re-signed to a five-year deal for as much as $38.75 million.
DT Cullen Jenkins -- Signed three-year deal for $8 million. Could be biggest add in '13.
CB Aaron Ross -- Team's 2007 first-round pick is back to help secondary depth.
DT Shaun Rogers -- Back again after blood clot kept him out last year.
RB Ryan Torain -- Back to add RB depth.
K Josh Brown -- Likely the end of the Lawrence Tynes' era.
LB Keith Rivers -- Signed one-year deal, will try to fill Michael Boley's role.
S Ryan Mundy -- Will try to be Giants' third safety.


TE Martellus Bennett -- Signed four-year, $20 million deal with Bears.
S Kenny Phillips -- Signed with Philadelphia for one-year deal.


G Kevin Boothe -- Giants' priority is to bring back Boothe, who is testing the market.
DE Osi Umenyiora -- Osi has wanted to be a free agent for a long time.
LB Chase Blackburn -- Testing the market. If he's back, it will be for cheap.
K Lawrence Tynes -- Giants signed Brown, the third K added this offseason.
DT Rocky Bernard -- Solid but Giants re-signed Shaun Rogers, though.
WR Domenik Hixon -- Solid vet provides depth but is considering other options.
WR Ramses Barden -- Ramses says he's ready for a fresh start elsewhere.
QB David Carr -- Solid backup will look around for opportunities with playing potential.
TE Travis Beckum -- Injuries hampered Giants career.
T Sean Locklear -- We'll see later this summer based on knee recovery.
CB Justin Tryon -- Giants will be looking for corners but Tryon may move on.
RB Kregg Lumpkin -- Giants re-signed Ryan Torain.
CB Brian Witherspoon -- Has to come back from another ACL tear.


WR Victor Cruz -- Handed first-round tender. Now we wait for an offer.
S Stevie Brown -- Tendered at second-round level.
RB Andre Brown -- Tendered at second-round level.
TE Bear Pascoe -- Giants already re-signed blocking tight end.


DE Adrian Tracy -- Already tendered. Could compete for fourth DE spot.
C Jim Cordle -- Already tendered. Will provide much-needed O-line depth.
DE Justin Trattou -- Trattou is back and may compete with Tracy as extra pass rusher.

Alright guys, let's hear who you want back and who you want to walk.

Giants beef up defense with Jenkins

March, 10, 2013

The New York Giants might not be a big player in free agency due to their salary cap situation, but on Sunday night they made what could be a pretty big addition.

The Giants plugged a hole in the front line of their defense by reaching an agreement with defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins, a source confirmed. ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reports the Giants' deal with Jenkins is for three years and $8 million, with a $2 million signing bonus and $3 million guaranteed.

The Giants struggled to stop the run this past season. Jenkins' 6-foot-2, 305-pound frame should give Perry Fewell some beef and muscle inside to help a run defense that finished 25th in the league, allowing an average of 129.1 yards per game.

Jenkins, 32, is expected to take over for Chris Canty (who was released in February in a cost-cutting move) in the starting lineup alongside Linval Joseph. From a salary perspective, the Giants replaced Canty, who was going to make $6.25 million this season in base salary and had two years left before his release, with Jenkins' three-year, $8 million deal.

[+] EnlargeCullen Jenkins
Rob Tringali/Getty ImagesCullen Jenkins stays in the NFC East, moving from the Eagles to the Giants.
The Giants reportedly had about $10 million in cap space prior to the Jenkins move. According to a source, Jenkins' cap charge for 2013 is $1.816 million. Still, the Giants might have to release a veteran or restructure more contracts this week to create cap space to keep some of their own free agents and tender their restricted free agents.

The Eagles released Jenkins in late February. Hehad 26 tackles and four sacks last season. The nine-year veteran has a total of 38.5 sacks since coming into the league with Green Bay in 2004, with 21 sacks over the past four seasons.

But stopping the run will be where Jenkins will be needed most. The interior of the Giants' defensive line now has Jenkins, Joseph, Shaun Rogers, Marvin Austin, Markus Kuhn and Bobby Skinner.

Make no mistake, this is a potentially big move for the Giants, since stopping the run was problematic. They didn't have to spend a ton to improve an area that needed an upgrade, and now they can focus on other areas of need in free agency and the draft.

The Giants need to re-sign left guard Kevin Boothe and tight end Martellus Bennett in free agency. They need to bring back/tender restricted free agents like Victor Cruz, Stevie Brown and Andre Brown. And they have to add depth and talent at cornerback, linebacker, offensive line and pass-rusher.

The Jenkins move also means they might not have to draft a defensive tackle in April.

Cribbs interest: The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported over the weekend that the Giants are one of four teams interested in free-agent wide receiver/kick returner Josh Cribbs.

Cribbs is an explosive kick returner and he could fill the Domenik Hixon role. Hixon is an unrestricted free agent. Cribbs also could allow David Wilson to focus on his running back duties.

It remains to be seen, though, how strong the interest is and how much Cribbs will command in free agency. The Giants aren't expected to have a ton of money to play with in free agency.

Tell us what you think of the Jenkins' addition.