NFC East: Michael Boley

Ohm Youngmisuk has this from New York Giants camp on safety Antrel Rolle, who has shown an impressive ability to pick his spots as his own type of leader during his time with the Giants, and understands that he might have to pick more of them this season:
Already considered one of the most respected veterans, Rolle realizes the Giants will be looking to him to help replace the leadership lost in the locker room, with Ahmad Bradshaw, Osi Umenyiora, Michael Boley, Chris Canty, Chase Blackburn and Kenny Phillips all gone.

Rolle
"I understand pretty much what it takes to be a leader a whole lot more this year, for whatever reason," Rolle, entering his fourth season with the Giants, said at the end of minicamp in June. "I think there are natural-born leaders. Some people try to adapt to it. I know I'm a natural-born leader."

I like Rolle as a locker-room guy for the Giants, and I think the fact that he's an unconventionally strong locker-room guy adds to his appeal. The standout moment came of course in the locker room following the loss to the Rex Grossman Redskins that dropped the Giants to 7-7 in 2011. That was the day Rolle made his comment about how guys who had nagging injuries might need to start practicing through them -- a comment that some of the more traditionally acknowledged locker-room leaders later admitted spurred them to action. But in a room filled with proud veterans, Rolle's approach to speaking up and picking his spots as a leader is appreciated, and he's probably right that he'll get (and should take) more opportunities this season.

My questions with Rolle this season are on-field ones -- specifically, what kind of player can he be in the absence of Kenny Phillips. When Phillips couldn't play last season, the answer to that question wasn't a great one for Rolle. He'll have to adjust his game this offseason knowing that Phillips won't be back (since he's with the Eagles now), and it remains to be seen whether the Giants' plans at safety will allow Rolle to settle into one comfortable spot rather than switching off roles with his opposite number as he and Phillips did so well. It's possible they'll just uncomplicate things and that Rolle will thrive, or that he'll step up his game with Phillips gone and lead a secondary that has to play better than it did last season.

What's certain is that this is a big, prove-it year for Rolle, as it is for Justin Tuck and David Diehl and some other championship-tested Giants vets. Rolle's salary-cap number is getting prohibitive, and unless he plays like a star this season, it's going to be tough for the Giants to keep him for 2014.

Links: Not rebuilding in Philadelphia

July, 22, 2013
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Dallas Cowboys

Defensive tackle Jay Ratliff was placed on the physically unable to perform list Sunday after suffering a minor hamstring strain during a conditioning test.

DeMarco Murray has his sights set on a big 2013 season. Murray: "This year is going to be a great year for me, I feel. I’ve come prepared, physically, mentally and emotionally. I’m definitely ready. I’m excited about this year and what we’re going to do."

New York Giants

Paul Schwartz of the New York Post: "There’s not a whole lot of buzz surrounding these Giants -- no exciting new marquee additions, no sense from outside that they are much-improved or on the cusp of shedding last year’s inconsistency. Gone are key Super Bowl cogs such as Osi Umenyiora, Ahmad Bradshaw, Kenny Phillips, Lawrence Tynes, Chris Canty and Michael Boley. There is no talk of rebuilding around the Giants -- that never is a consideration as long as Eli Manning is in his prime -- but there is more of a sense of uncertainty than previous summers."

Big Blue View's roster breakdown continues with defensive end Justin Tuck.

Philadelphia Eagles

Nick Fierro of The Morning Call: "Gone are the old training methods, workout schedules, nutrition plans, teaching routines, roster-building philosophy and play-calling system of [Andy] Reid's regime, which lasted 14 seasons. In is a fresh approach that has the veterans as excited as the rookies, if not more, with scientific research fueling the whole thing. Every single aspect of the Eagles' football operation has been changed.

Don't tell coach Chip Kelly that this is a rebuilding year in Philadelphia. "My job is to win right now," Kelly said. "How do you think I'd be received in Philly if I told them we were going to write this year off? Those people that are waving to me on the streets right now? That ain't going to happen. But that's never been my mentality, either. We're not writing anything off."

Washington Redskins

Quarterback Robert Griffin III on Wednesday will reportedly be examined by Dr. James Andrews.

In lower-profile injury news, Michael Phillips of the Richmond Times-Dispatch discusses the uncertainty along the defensive line.
Here is our weekly Twitter mailbag, an exercise in which you can participate at any time of the week simply by tweeting something with the hashtag #nfceastmail in it. Like these folks here did.
This Friday's links are sorted in order of most recent NFC East division title.

Washington Redskins

Rich Tandler has a detailed look at the position competitions the Redskins will have for spots on their defense this summer. Interesting to think that a couple of young guys whose potential as future starters they've liked at safety, DeJon Gomes and Jordan Bernstine, could be on the outside looking in because of their draft picks.

A recent AP poll shows that the name "Redskins" still draws widespread support. As we've discussed at length here, though, popular does not equal right.

New York Giants

The words the Giants are using to describe seventh-round draft pick Eric Herman make him sound like the kind of guy they like to play guard, though not necessarily the kind of guy you want to go out to dinner with.

Those who have asked whether the Giants might re-sign linebacker Michael Boley are hereby referred to the considerable off-field problems he's enduring at the moment as a reason that's not likely.

Philadelphia Eagles

Phil Sheridan writes that the Eagles had a draft plan and stuck to it, but he questions whether it did enough to address their issues on defense.

Matt Barkley says he believes Chip Kelly when Kelly says he'll adapt his schemes to fit his personnel, and he has no trouble believing he can play well enough to be part of those schemes.

Dallas Cowboys

The market for the remaining right tackles is moving quite slowly, which suits the Cowboys just fine. They're still waiting to see how their situation with their current right tackle, Doug Free, is going to resolve itself.

As the dust settles around the draft, and as people continue to question the way they managed the first round, the Cowboys remain very pleased with the players they got, according to Clarence Hill.

Giants keep breaking up the band

March, 28, 2013
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News overnight Wednesday included the official (and long-expected) signing of Osi Umenyiora with the Falcons and the signing of Chase Blackburn with the Panthers. Neither of these New York Giants Super Bowl heroes had been expected back in 2013, and it does not appear the Giants made any real effort to keep either one. That's the way the Giants roll when it comes to players -- they look forward and not back. But it's worth a moment to stop and consider the changes they've seen in a little over a year.

Blackburn
Umenyiora
It's been less than 14 months since the Giants beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI, and 22 of the 45 players who played for them in that game are no longer on the roster. Another -- cornerback Aaron Ross -- left for a year and came back. This is the list of the 22:
  1. DE Osi Umenyiora
  2. LB Chase Blackburn
  3. RB Ahmad Bradshaw
  4. RB Brandon Jacobs
  5. RB D.J. Ware
  6. WR Mario Manningham
  7. TE Jake Ballard
  8. TE Travis Beckum
  9. OT Kareem McKenzie
  10. G Mitch Petrus
  11. OT Tony Ugoh
  12. WR Devin Thomas
  13. K Lawrence Tynes
  14. CB Will Blackmon
  15. LB Michael Boley
  16. S Kenny Phillips
  17. S Deon Grant
  18. DT Rocky Bernard (still a free agent, could return)
  19. DT Chris Canty
  20. DE Dave Tollefson
  21. CB Derrick Martin
  22. LB Greg Jones

Some fairly significant names in there, and while I don't think any of their departures represents a bad or ill-considered decision on the team's part, I just felt like it was worth looking back and assessing the turnover in light of the Umenyiora and Blackburn departures.

This is the way things work in the NFL. The Super Bowl champion Ravens have turned over basically their whole defense, and their title was less than two months ago. So the Giants haven't been gutted or pillaged or anything like that. They view their roster as an organic, constantly evolving entity, and they're not going to hold onto guys they shouldn't keep just because those guys helped win them a Super Bowl (or, in some cases, two). Some of these players will be missed, others will not, but if the Giants get back to the Super Bowl again in the next couple of years, the team is going to have a much different look at many positions than it did in the Super Bowl they won just last year.
Looking to add to their depth at linebacker, the New York Giants will bring back Keith Rivers, who played 11 games for them in 2012 after they acquired him from the Bengals last offseason.

Rivers
Injuries have been Rivers' problem, in Cincinnati and again in New York, but another problem he had in 2012 was that the Giants didn't have an obvious place to play him. His position was the same one Michael Boley was playing in the Giants' defense, so when Boley was on the field they had to use Rivers in something of a utility linebacker role, and he didn't help much.

Boley's gone now, though, and the Giants' linebacking corps has very little experience on it. It's possible Rivers could simply take Boley's place, though it's also possible they're looking at Jacquian Williams for that role. As was the case last year, the Giants appear to be bringing in Rivers to give themselves as many options as possible for solving their annual issues at linebacker.

What they really need is a middle linebacker, as Chase Blackburn seems set on testing the market. Rivers is not that, and it's unclear what the Giants' plans are for that spot if Blackburn leaves. They like Mark Herzlich, but he didn't show much when given a chance to fill in for Blackburn last year. They have shown interest so far in Jasper Brinkley and Rey Maualuga among free-agent linebackers, and it appears as though they'll have some good linebacker options available to them with the 19th pick in next month's draft if they decide they want to go in that direction.

The Giants don't tend to prioritize the linebacker position, though, so I'd think it's likely they'll continue to work to patch it with mid-range options they find on the market for good prices or with some of their young internal inventory. And who knows? If he can stay healthy for a change, maybe Rivers turns out to be part of the 2013 answer.

Who's next to go for Giants?

February, 26, 2013
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David Diehl is a 10-year NFL veteran who knows how the system works. And as he told Tom Rock of Newsday, he's aware that he could be the next New York Giants veteran to be released in advance of free agency:
"The thing you realize at an early age is that as an NFL player you have an expiration date on you and it comes with a price tag," the offensive lineman said Tuesday. "That's the way that it always goes. Nothing has been said to me yet, but that's all things you can't control. The only things you can control are the way you prepare each and every day, getting myself healthy, and whenever that comes about we'll deal with it. But as of now, nothing has been said."

Diehl, who will turn 33 in September and is preparing for his 11th NFL season, is due to earn a base salary of $4.475 million in 2013. It is the last year of his contract with the Giants. If the team signs free agents-to-be Will Beatty and Kevin Boothe and thinks that James Brewer is ready to take over at right tackle, there may not be room in the starting lineup for Diehl. And therefore, there may not be room on the roster for him and his salary.

Diehl's last couple of seasons haven't been his best, though he did play left tackle during the Giants' run to their Super Bowl title in 2011-12. He struggled at right tackle this year and lost playing time to Sean Locklear, and Pro Football Focus graded him out as the 60th-best tackle in the league for the 2012 season. The salary number is high for a 32-year-old who's shown signs of decline.

Yet, the Giants value Diehl for his versatility (he can play any position on the line) and could decide, for a lesser price, to keep him around as a backup even if Brewer or someone else takes over at right tackle. So don't assume Diehl's a slam-dunk to be cut just because you think he should be.

Same with cornerback Corey Webster and his $7 million salary. Webster played poorly in 2012 but very well in 2011, and the Giants don't have any obvious in-house options to replace him if he leaves. They probably can't carry him at that number, but the fact that he and Diehl weren't cut in the purge that sent away Ahmad Bradshaw, Chris Canty and Michael Boley a few weeks ago indicates that the team considers their cases more complex.

The Giants right now appear to be evaluating the situations with their own free agents, especially Beatty, and if costs get too high for the guys they decide to keep, that could impact what they do with some of the pricier veterans.

What should Giants do at linebacker?

February, 12, 2013
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At the risk of burning a valuable Wednesday breakfast link (and nobody likes burned breakfast links), I refer you this Tuesday afternoon to Ohm's latest installment of his position-by-position New York Giants analysis. This one is on linebackers, that perpetually vexing position at which the Giants always seem to be looking for answers. With Michael Boley already cut, Keith Rivers and Chase Blackburn set to be free agents and Mathias Kiwanuka potentially moving back up to the defensive line to replace free agent Osi Umenyiora, the Giants' linebacker corps could look at lot different in 2013:
Blackburn knows Perry Fewell’s defense perhaps better than anyone and Rivers, when healthy, can do some similar things to Boley. Jacquian Williams should be in line for a bigger role with Boley’s departure and could start. And Spencer Paysinger and Mark Herzlich could be in store for more opportunities as well. The Giants could add another veteran linebacker in free agency and perhaps draft one as well.

Salary cap situation: The Giants cleared some cap space by releasing Boley. Blackburn and Rivers are free agents but the Giants could look into bringing either or both back for cheap. While the Giants could sign a veteran free agent linebacker, it might be a bit of a surprise if brass went after a high-priced free agent. And while the Giants could draft a linebacker in April, Jerry Reese usually uses his first-round picks on other areas of the defense, especially defensive line.

Ohm's obviously hit the nail on the head there at the end. The Giants don't prioritize linebacker, and it remains to be seen who from that Williams/Paysinger/Herzlich group that all came into the league together in 2011 will be a long-term contributor. Williams has shown the most, standing out in particular during the Super Bowl run last year, but he had injury problems in 2012. Herzlich didn't show much in short stints in relief of Blackburn in 2012, but the team retains high hopes for him. I wouldn't be surprised to see Blackburn return, and if they do move Kiwanuka back up to the line full-time they'll have more room for Rivers if they want him back. But as for potential free-agent or draft targets, your guess is as good as mine. I have to believe Reese and his staff are more focused on making sure the pass rush stays strong.
The Twitter mailbag has had a couple of weeks off, first due to vacation and then due last week to the fact of Hall of Fame and awards announcements. But it is back, and as ever I thank you for your submissions. Remember, you can always tweet a question for the Twitter mailbag just by using the hashtag #nfceastmail at any time during the week. I round them up on Fridays and post them and their answers on Saturdays. Like this.

@billycuth: Do you see the Eagles staying at 4 or trading down?

@ESPN_NFCEast: Anything's possible, but if I'm the Philadelphia Eagles, the only way I'm trading out of the No. 4 overall draft pick is if I decide I need to move up a spot or two to get the quarterback of my dreams. And since that guy doesn't appear to be in this draft, I stay put at No. 4. That No. 4 pick is a pretty good pick. A partial list of players who were picked fourth overall since the turn of the century includes Matt Kalil, A.J. Green, Trent Williams, Darren McFadden, Philip Rivers and Justin Smith. You can get a really good, franchise-altering player at No. 4, and that's what I think the Eagles should do. Whether it's a defensive lineman like Star Lotulelei, an offensive lineman like Luke Joeckel or even a quarterback like Geno Smith, I think the Eagles are in a spot to draft someone who will be a significant building block for their future.


@1calledsteve: what are the odds with the new cap space, the gmen will sign phillips, cruz and nicks?

@ESPN_NFCEast: The New York Giants' cuts this week of veterans Ahmad Bradshaw, Chris Canty and Michael Boley were designed to create salary-cap relief, and you are correct that they're thinking about free-agent safety Kenny Phillips and star wide receivers Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, all of whom need new deals. Add to that offensive linemen Will Beatty and Kevin Boothe, who are free-agent eligible, and the Giants have a great deal of work to do just to keep the guys they want to keep. I think Phillips is 50-50. His injuries this past year could end up making him easier for the Giants to keep, as he could have a harder time getting the kind of deal he'd like to get on the open market, and could return to New York for something like the Giants' price. But he is a great player, and if someone out there is willing to look beyond the 2012 injuries, the Giants could get outbid. There's no rush yet on Nicks or Cruz, as Nicks has a year left on his deal and Cruz can be tendered as a restricted free agent, but the Giants would love to get those contracts done sooner rather than later if they can, to avoid ugliness. My guess is they get deals done with both receivers this offseason, but I can't handicap their chances of keeping Phillips at this point.


@MD_In_MD: could D. Hall really play safety? He would be responsible for a lot of open field plays which he doesn't excel at

@ESPN_NFCEast: This is an idea we've kicked around some in recent weeks -- the idea of the Washington Redskins moving DeAngelo Hall from cornerback to free safety and pursuing cornerback options on the offseason market instead of safety options. I do not know if it's something the Redskins would consider. I do not know if it's something to which Hall would agree. Whether they move him to safety or keep him at corner, the Redskins are likely going to ask Hall of take a pay cut, and I don't know if he's going to be okay with that, either. But in theory, I like the idea, and it's because I think Hall still does retain his open-field playmaking ability. I think it's in tight coverage where he struggles at times (although not in Week 17 against Dez Bryant, I'll grant you). If the Redskins' coaches can sell Hall on the idea of playing free safety, I believe they'd have an energized player who would operate at a high level and embrace the new challenge and the freedoms it offers in the Redskins' system. But that's an "if" at this point.


@A_Martinez4: what do you feel the biggest need for #dallas is? O line or d line? Or another position?

@ESPN_NFCEast: I think the Dallas Cowboys' needs on the offensive line are more significant than their needs on the defensive line. I think they need a center, at least one guard and a right tackle. Now, by necessity, some of those answers might have to come from within the current roster. But if I were the Cowboys, I'd make upgrading at least one of those spots my top priority in free agency or the draft. The problem, however, is this switch to a 4-3 defensive alignment under new coordinator Monte Kiffin. If salary-cap problems keep them from bringing back Anthony Spencer, their need on the defensive line becomes more significant, and they might have to alter their priorities. A classic pass-rushing defensive end might then become their first-round draft target. And if that's the case, then they'd better have found a top guard or tackle in free agency, or else the offense will face many of the same problems it faced last season. It's a complicated offseason ahead for the Cowboys, who don't have easy answers everywhere.
Thoughtful piece here from Paul Schwartz, with the help of former New York Giants tackle Luke Petitgout, on the Giants' preference for parting ways with players before those players lose their effectiveness. At the end of the week in which the Giants cut two-time Super Bowl-winning running back Ahmad Bradshaw, as well as linebacker Michael Boley and defensive tackle Chris Canty, Petitgout remembers his own experience and sees it reflected in what's going on now:
“The Giants are a family,’’ Petitgout said. “It’s something tough to accept, like when a girlfriend dumps you. They know when your time is up. Some guys may buck the trend and have a good couple years after that but if you’ve been there a long time, they know your medical history, they know your aches and pains, they usually make the right decision. I basically had a time bomb in my back and when I went to Tampa it went off. The Giants knew what they were doing.’’
[+] EnlargeAhmad Bradshaw
Jim O'Connor/USA TODAY SportsThe Giants parted ways this week with Ahmad Bradshaw, who was their leading rusher the past three seasons.
It cannot have been easy for GM Jerry Reese to say goodbye to Bradshaw, who played through significant pain to help deliver the team's Super Bowl title last year. But between Bradshaw's salary and the chronic foot injuries that kept him from practicing during the week or playing at full strength on Sundays, the Giants believed it was the right thing to do. It's not the first time they've cut a player while he was still an effective producer for them, and if Bradshaw's best days are behind him, it won't be the first time the Giants cut a still-productive player just in time:
Reese is rarely wrong. As a former scout, his eye for talent isn’t confined to youngsters. Steve Smith and Kevin Boss haven’t done a thing and haven’t stayed healthy. He traded away Jeremy Shockey. He did not re-sign Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward or Amani Toomer. He cut Shaun O'Hara, Rich Seubert and Kareem McKenzie. He didn’t think Antonio Pierce's neck was sound enough to continue playing. He passed on bringing back Plaxico Burress. In the same purge that caught Petitgout, Reese also jettisoned Carlos Emmons and LaVar Arrington. Did any of these players prove Reese wrong?

Pretty amazing list. Combine this idea with what we wrote about here Thursday -- the Giants' organizational belief in developing young players in their system so they're ready to take over when it's time for the veterans to go -- and it's easy to see that Reese has a definite plan and is sticking to it. Will it work? No way to know. If the Giants are in something of a rebuild mode, they're going to need many of their young players to be as good as the team thought they'd be when it drafted them. And not even Reese, with all of his track record, can predict how players are going to play. The point is, even as things change with the Giants and people come and go, it's still easy to see the consistency with which they operate, and it has served them well.
David Wilson and Jacquian WilliamsUSA TODAY SportsThe Giants hope players like David Wilson, left, and Jacquian Williams are ready for starting roles.
New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese has a reputation as a shrewd handler of the NFL draft. We are about to find out whether he deserves it.

Reese himself would tell you that the Giants look at the draft in a very specific way. They do not view it as an annual opportunity to make big-splash, instant-impact additions to the following season's team. The Giants use the draft as a means of crafting and maintaining a deep roster that can regenerate itself with players who have spent time developing in their system.

The cuts this week of championship mainstays Ahmad Bradshaw, Michael Boley and Chris Canty signal a time of such regeneration. The Giants make these moves -- and likely more cuts to come -- with the hope that the replacements for these players are already in their locker room. The extent to which that turns out to be the case will help determine just how good Reese's past few drafts have been.

The likely replacements for Bradshaw are David Wilson (first round, 2012) and Andre Brown (fourth round, 2009). Assuming they re-sign Brown coming off his broken leg, they'll find out whether that tandem can effect a smooth transition from the Bradshaw/Brandon Jacobs era at running back. Brown is a guy to whom they kept giving chances until he blossomed as a power runner in 2012. Wilson is the guy they said was at the top of their running back board in last year's draft. Were they telling the truth? Or did Tampa Bay outfox them by trading up to steal Doug Martin one pick earlier? It appears as though Wilson will get a good chance in 2013 to show whether he was indeed the right man for the Giants job.

Canty is a tough loss in the middle of the defensive line. And while Linval Joseph (second round, 2010) has already proved himself a reliable starter at defensive tackle, the Giants will hope this is the year that Marvin Austin (second round, 2011) blossoms into the interior pass-rusher they envisioned when they drafted him off his suspension season at North Carolina. That Austin pick has a chance to look really good if the young man rebounds from the two years in which he didn't see the field, but if he doesn't, the Giants will need to find more depth at that position.

Boley's most likely replacement at outside linebacker is Jacquian Williams (sixth round, 2011), who was a big help during the the most recent Super Bowl run and now likely gets a chance to show what he can do as an NFL starter. The Giants don't place a very high priority on the linebacker position, and if Williams blossoms as a starter out of the sixth round, he'll make that particular part of their strategy look pretty good.

There are other spots at which change is or could be coming. The Giants are almost certain to bid farewell, for instance, to defensive end Osi Umenyiora. And while Jason Pierre-Paul (first round, 2010) might already have taken Umenyiora's starting job, the Giants are eager to learn whether Pierre-Paul can be the relentless quarterback predator he was in 2011 and anchor their pass rush for years to come, or whether his more pedestrian 2012 season is what they should expect.

If they cut cornerback Corey Webster, is Prince Amukamara (first round, 2011) ready to cover the other team's No. 1 wide receiver on a regular basis? And is Jayron Hosley (third round, 2012) good enough to be a starter, or is he just a nickel corner? Can Rueben Randle (second round, 2012) and/or Jerrel Jernigan (third round, 2011) emerge as a playmaker and help make their wide receiver decisions on Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz less pressure-packed? Is tackle James Brewer (fourth round, 2011) ready to take his role as part of the offensive line rebuild?

Lots of questions with many potential answers for the Giants as they begin what appears to be an offseason makeover of some significance. This is the way they like to operate -- stocking their roster with talented young players they like, and working to help them be ready when opportunity arrives. It's why they believe in continuity on the coaching staff, and why they believe they can spend to the cap each year without having to pound the free-agent market too hard.

It is possible that the answers to the Giants' roster questions lie in the early and middle rounds of these past few drafts, and if they do, Reese's reputation as a master of the draft will be fortified by on-field results. If they do not, the Giants might find themselves in the uncomfortable position of having to alter their strategy and find some quick fixes for their holes next offseason. Reese and the Giants generally received high marks for the drafts they had in recent years. But with all of these veterans headed out of town, now's the time when we find out just how good those drafts really were.

Bradshaw, Canty latest Giants cuts

February, 6, 2013
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Today's cuts could not have been easy for the New York Giants, who are quite fond of running back Ahmad Bradshaw but apparently could not stomach the idea of paying him $3.75 million this year and $4 million in 2014 when his feet keep needing surgery. Per our man Adam Schefter, the Giants informed Bradshaw on Wednesday that he was being released.

Jenny Vrentas of The Star-Ledger also reports that defensive tackle Chris Canty has been released. Canty was due $6.25 million this year and $6.5 million in 2014.

The Giants need cap money to attempt to re-sign several of their own free agents, including safety Kenny Phillips, offensive linemen Will Beatty and Kevin Boothe and, with Bradshaw gone, probably running back Andre Brown. There are other cuts on the horizon, with veteran offensive lineman David Diehl and cornerback Corey Webster remaining as possible cap casualties as the Giants undergo something of a roster overhaul at the start of this offseason. They cut linebacker Michael Boley on Tuesday.

I think Bradshaw finds work somewhere. He's still one of the most complete running backs in the league -- a power back with good vision who's as good at blitz pickup as anyone in the NFL. The concern is that his feet can't stay healthy, and his latest surgery is going to keep him out for the next couple of months. Look for someone to give him a shot come training camp. Canty can surely help someone as well, as be brings interior pass rush along with his run-stopping ability, but not for that kind of salary.

The Giants will hope to fill in with younger players they've been working on developing, with someone like Marvin Austin perhaps moving up to a larger role at defensive tackle. Second-year running back David Wilson, along with Brown, is likely to see an increased workload with Bradshaw gone, though you can expect the Giants to add at that position as well, since they believe it's important to have quality depth there.

Much more on this to come, obviously, as the Giants are slashing and appear on the cusp of a very interesting offseason.
Washington Redskins

The dude accused of assaulting Trent Williams in a Honolulu nightclub before the Pro Bowl says he's not guilty. Which is weird, since it seems like a ton of people saw what happened. But I wasn't one of them, so what do I know?

Redskins offensive lineman Jordan Black has one game remaining on his drug suspension, but he is eligible to participate in offseason workouts for the Redskins or whatever other team he ends up with.

New York Giants

Chris Canty says he was shocked by Tuesday's release of Michael Boley. Which means it's going to be real interesting to see how Canty reacts to the potential release of Canty.

Ohm takes an offseason look at the running-back position, and part of his conclusion is an important one to remember. No matter who carries the ball or how many times, much of the success of the 2013 Giants running game will depend on what the offensive line ends up looking like.

Dallas Cowboys

The latest additions to the Cowboys' coaching staff include an offensive-line coach, which was Bill Callahan's title last year and obviously stands as the latest hint that Callahan will take over play-calling duties from head coach Jason Garrett in 2013. Though no one's said that, because no one's saying anything. Whee!

Here's a somewhat radical idea, based deep in the Cowboys' past: If Jerry Jones wants to really show faith in Garrett, he should give him a 10-year contract extension. Somehow, I don't see it.

Philadelphia Eagles

I've got two links today from CSNPhilly.com. This one here is Reuben Frank looking at who stays and who goes on offense. No huge surprises, but for the record Reuben says Michael Vick's a goner.

And this one here says the Eagles are in contract discussions with former Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon, who makes sense for his former coach, Chip Kelly, though likely as a backup or a quarterback they could use in certain specific packages. Not, in other words, as the solution at starter. Though I guess you never know.
It might be disappointing for New York Giants fans who recall the contribution linebacker Michael Boley made to their 2011-12 Super Bowl run, but it is not a surprise that the Giants released Boley on Tuesday. He did not start any of their final three games in 2012 and, after a serious dropoff in performance, saw a reduction in playing time as the season went along. He was due $4.25 million in 2013 and the Giants have (a) salary-cap concerns, and (b) young linebackers they believe should be ready for more playing time. Jacquian Williams jumps out as the player most likely to take over Boley's role.

Last month, ESPN's John Clayton wrote that the Giants were expected to be about $4.7 million over this year's projected salary cap. In order to clear the room they'll need to try and re-sign players such as Kenny Phillips, Will Beatty and Kevin Boothe, and pursue upgrades elsewhere on the roster, they are likely to cut some more veterans this offseason. Possibilities range from cornerback Corey Webster to defensive tackle Chris Canty to offensive lineman David Diehl and even, possibly to core players such as running back Ahmad Bradshaw and defensive end Justin Tuck, though those last two seem unlikely.

With all of the linebackers the Giants brought in as rookies in 2011 about to head into their third seasons, the writing was on the wall for Boley. But he could be just the first of many familiar Giants faces who end up looking elsewhere for work this offseason.

Giant five: Top leaders

January, 21, 2013
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This week we are rolling out some Giants top five lists.

So in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Inauguration Day, the first list of the week will focus on the Giants' five most important leaders on the roster with an eye toward the 2013 season.

These five Giants make this list because of their stature on the team, how vital their success on the field is to the Giants and how important their leadership skills are. These are five guys Tom Coughlin can use to lead in the locker room and on the field.

1. QB Eli Manning: He isn't the most vocal of this bunch. In fact, he might be the quietest of them all. But because this team follows his lead and the Giants go as far as he can take them, Manning is at the top of this list.

[+] EnlargeAntrel Rolle
Debby Wong/USA TODAY SportsAntrel Rolle is the most outspoken of the Giants' leaders.
In the rare moments that he does choose to talk, he commands the team's undivided attention. But really more than anything, Manning leads by example with his steady demeanor. If the Giants are going to be Super Bowl contenders in 2013, Manning has to lead the way and play like the elite quarterback that he was in 2011.

2. S Antrel Rolle: Rolle has emerged as one of the most important leaders on the team. The safety usually rings the alarm when the Giants need a wake-up call. When the Giants aren't showing enough fire or not enough "dog," the safety will let his teammates and the media know.

Rolle often spits out the hard truth when things are going bad and his criticism is often welcomed by teammates, who usually agree with what he has to say. On a team that often needs somebody to be vocal, hold nothing back and hold teammates accountable, Rolle might be the best to play that particular role.

3. DE Justin Tuck: The team's defensive captain rallies his unit on the field before every game and typically knows the pulse of the team. He is capable of delivering stirring halftime speeches to spark his team, like he did in a win over Jacksonville during the 2010 season. He prefers, however, to lead by example.

But Tuck hasn't played up to the level he is accustomed to recently. The Giants need a bounce-back season from Tuck, who is entering the final year of his contract.

4. DE Jason Pierre-Paul: The team's best young player was more comfortable this past season in voicing his opinion at times and telling it like it is. Like Rolle, he can be frank and straight to the point when the Giants are struggling.

Considering his stature on the team and his importance to the success of the Giants -- and with Osi Umenyiora potentially moving on -- it's time for JPP to grow more as a leader as well. He showed signs of doing that last season. GM Jerry Reese wants JPP to talk with Michael Strahan this offseason to learn how to deal better with double teams, but he certainly wouldn't mind Strahan sharing some leadership tips as well.

5. RB Ahmad Bradshaw: Bradshaw is another who leads by example. His strong, violent runs can often spark the team. He also rallies the team on the field with stirring pregame talks and his emotions can be good for the team. Sometimes he might take it a little too far, like he did during a game this season when he slapped Victor Cruz on the helmet too hard and exchanged some words with Coughlin on the sideline at one point.

But Bradshaw is the toughest Giant on the roster and can be the heart of the team. He would be higher on this list except for the fact that injuries have plagued him and he was uncertain about his future on the team with David Wilson emerging. Still, Coughlin likes to keep multiple backs and he loves Bradshaw for his toughness and heart.

Honorable mention: LS Zak DeOssie (special teams captain), RG Chris Snee, MLB Chase Blackburn (free agent), DT Chris Canty and LB Michael Boley (future uncertain).

Tell us below which Giants leaders are critical for the team's success in 2013.

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