Commentary

Don't cry for Jerry and the Giants

Departures of Jacobs, Manningham to 49ers won't rattle Big Blue this offseason

Updated: March 28, 2012, 10:50 PM ET
By Ohm Youngmisuk | ESPNNewYork.com

The San Francisco 49ers have poached two key members of the New York Giants' offense and signed Mario Manningham and Brandon Jacobs.

Some sentimental Giants fans may be doing their best Boyz II Men impression and singing "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday." And Tom Coughlin understands how these fans feel even if Jacobs and Manningham were always expected to end up elsewhere ever since the Giants beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI.

"There is some sentiment involved in it," Coughlin told reporters on Wednesday at the league meetings prior to the news that Jacobs had joined Manningham in San Francisco. "But we don't say goodbye. We say, 'Next time.'"

It may be hard to say goodbye to name-brand pieces that helped win a Super Bowl, but it's certainly not the "End of the Road" for the Giants as the world champions still have the core of the team intact. And Jerry Reese has his eyes set on keeping that young, talented core together for years to come.

Losing Jacobs -- who was released for financial reasons -- Manningham and cornerback Aaron Ross while being conservative in free agency might irritate some anxious fans who want to see the Giants add a stud running back or middle linebacker.

But Reese always has a plan and there's always a reason why the Giants are not going be as active shoppers as some would like. Just remember last summer and how it felt like it was the end of the world when Kevin Boss and Steve Smith left in free agency, Shaun O'Hara and Rich Seubert were released, and the Eagles were on a spending spree as if they had just won the Mega Millions jackpot.

Reese said he believed the Giants had enough roster pieces and unknowns who could step up. And of course the end result was another Lombardi Trophy. And he's delivering the same message again this week.

"The salary cap rules the world," Reese said in an interview with SiriusXM NFL radio on Monday. "If you have a lot of good players, you just can't retain them all. We feel like we have some players on the roster that can come in and step up."

So far in free agency, the Giants have lost their No. 3 wide receiver, No. 3 cornerback and special teams contributor Devin Thomas. And now Jacobs has moved on to San Francisco.

Meanwhile, their biggest moves have been re-signing cornerback Terrell Thomas and punter Steve Weatherford while adding former Cowboys tight end Martellus Bennett.

[+] EnlargeMario Manningham
Win McNamee/Getty ImagesWith Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz ahead of him on the depth chart, Mario Manningham became surplus to requirements.

Yes, Manningham came up with the unforgettable sideline catch in Indianapolis and also had the big touchdown against the Niners. He often made difficult catches look easy but also was capable of making routine ones difficult with drops or by drifting out of bounds. He was a weapon for Eli Manning but ultimately a luxury with Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz ahead of him on the depth chart. There was no way for Reese to pay three wide receivers since he will have to find a way to compensate Nicks and Cruz eventually. And Manningham wanted to go to a team where he could see plenty of targets.

The Giants are as good as any at developing their own talent. They were able to fill the third wide receiver void last year with Cruz, who surpassed Manningham on the depth chart, and that was without a full offseason of coaching and training due to the lockout. Let's see what Manning can do after a full offseason to work with former third-round picks Jerrel Jernigan and Ramses Barden.

As far as who Manning will hand off to besides Ahmad Bradshaw, the Giants may miss Jacobs more from an emotional standpoint. Jacobs' production has steadily slipped in the past three seasons and the 6-4, 264-pound running back isn't as physical as he was when he unforgettably flattened Redskins safety LaRon Landry years ago.

At times he could be difficult and clash with fans and reporters while being frustrated with his role. But he helped the Giants win two Super Bowls and was a nice insurance plan whenever Bradshaw's feet flared up. And not to be underestimated was his emotional influence on the team. He delivers passionate and emotional messages to teammates on the field before games and can provide a spark and add a swagger with just a couple of broken tackles.

But the Giants weren't going to pay for a backup running back who will turn 30 in July. They could sign another veteran on the cheap, draft a running back or perhaps make a trade if the price is right. They have D.J. Ware, promising speedster Da'Rel Scott and Andre Brown behind Bradshaw, but Coughlin has said he would like to stick to the formula of having a big power back to pair with Bradshaw.

"There's a hallmark that we stick to by position," Coughlin said in February at the NFL scouting combine when asked about potentially losing Jacobs. "Brandon is very rare, very rare. We would stick to what's been good for the Giants."

Ross, who signed with Jacksonville last week, also helped the Giants win two Super Bowls and stepped in as a starter when Thomas went down last season. But the Giants have Corey Webster, Thomas and last year's first-round pick, Prince Amukamara.

It's never easy to see members of a Super Bowl roster leave less than two months after the confetti came down. And there will be more popular role players who will be leaving shortly in free agency as well.

All Giants fans can do is thank them for the memories and trust in the Giants' way, which is to let Reese retool in the draft and watch Coughlin and the coaching staff develop their homegrown talent.

Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
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