Monthly Archives: September 2017

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It’s a business. Financial decisions will have to be made this offseason by the New York Giants as they try to keep together and improve the group that won 11 games and reached the postseason for the first time in five years.

There are always tough decisions. Last year the Giants cut offensive linemen Geoff Schwartz and Will Beatty and restructured the deal of wide receiver Victor Cruz. These were financially-driven moves made several days after the Super Bowl.

It’s one of the first steps in building the roster for the following season, so it’s where we start in our offseason look at potential Giants moves. Before free agency and extending contracts of some of their own players, the Giants will sever ties with several others.

These are the players still under contract for at least next season whom the Giants will have to make decisions on this offseason:

WR Victor Cruz (signed through 2018)

2017 salary: $7.5 million

2017 cap number: $9.4 million

Cap savings if cut: $7.5 million

Analysis: The Giants and Cruz restructured his deal last season knowing they would likely be back in this spot one year later. Cruz, 30, isn’t going to be kept at these numbers. The Giants have to decide if they even want him to return at all after 39 catches for 586 yards and a touchdown in his first season back after missing almost two full years. A decision will have to be made by March 11, when he is due a $1 million roster bonus.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has value, but would count $9 million against the Giants’ salary cap next season, expensive for a third cornerback. Patrick Smith/Getty Images
CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (signed through 2018)

2017 salary: $7 million

2017 cap number: $9 million

Cap savings if cut: $5 million

Analysis: Rodgers-Cromartie is a good player. His value was evident when he left the Giants’ playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers picked on his replacements in the slot. But Rodgers-Cromartie is an expensive third cornerback who doesn’t necessarily fit the style (physical, press-man coverage at the line of scrimmage) that Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo wants to play. Rodgers-Cromartie should have value on the trade market, should they feel the need to create money for others. Some concessions are going to have to be made on defense with defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins and linebacker Keenan Robinson all free agents.

RB Shane Vereen (signed through 2017)

2017 salary: $3.79 million

2017 cap number: $4.9 million

Cap savings if cut: $3.7 million
Analysis: Vereen tore his triceps twice and is entering the final year of a three-year contract. His unique skills and ability to catch the ball out of the backfield were missed this season. The Giants could get out of the deal if they so please and save almost $4 million. It depends on Vereen’s health and the direction the Giants travel at the running back position. This would only appear to be an option if they select a back high in the draft or surprisingly sign a top free agent at the position. A decision will be made by March 13, when Vereen is due a $500,000 roster bonus.

LB J.T. Thomas (signed through 2017)

2017 salary: $3 million

2017 cap number: $4 million

Cap savings if cut: $4 million

Analysis: This might be the most clear-cut move of them all. Thomas was signed as a free agent in the 2015 offseason. The move hasn’t panned out. He has missed 20 of 33 games the past two seasons, including all but one this year after tearing knee ligaments. He’s expected to be released.

RB Rashad Jennings (signed through 2017)

2017 salary: $2.5 million

2017 cap number: $3 million

Cap savings if cut: $3 million

Analysis: Again, the Giants will have to choose a path at running back. Jennings didn’t have the season he desired and will turn 32 in March. Paul Perkins started playing a bigger role as the season progressed and is a cheaper, younger option. Jennings’ time with the Giants appears to be over, based on production and price.

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New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. returned Monday night against the Detroit Lions after missing Week 1 with an ankle injury.

Beckham, officially listed as questionable, ran through early pregame warm-ups before a final decision was made with a little more than 90 minutes left before kickoff.

General manager Jerry Reese, coach Ben McAdoo and members of the Giants’ strength and conditioning, training and medical staffs had planned to monitor his warm-up. His first official snap came on the Giants’ third offensive play.

Meanwhile, the Giants were without starting middle linebacker B.J. Goodson, ruled out with a leg injury, and cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who was out with ankle and hand injuries. Calvin Munson was expected to start in place of Goodson, who had 18 tackles in the opener.

Beckham returned to practice this week for the first time since injuring his ankle on Aug. 21 in a preseason game against the Cleveland Browns. Beckham rehabbed the injury at the team facility and at home and said Thursday that he “felt good” and was itching to get back on the field.

The Giants’ offense needs Beckham after struggling in a 19-3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 1. Receiver Brandon Marshall caught one pass in the final moments for 10 yards. Quarterback Eli Manning threw for just 33 yards in a first half in which the offense produced a grand total of two first downs.

Beckham has led the Giants in receiving each of the past three seasons. He had 101 receptions for 1,367 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.

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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Throughout the offseason, the Minnesota Vikings spent ample time on third-down conversions in the red zone and goal-line situations, both on offense and defense.

New Orleans made it inside the Vikings’ 10-yard line on four different possessions on Monday. Three of those ended in a field goal. On the other, Drew Brees converted for an 8-yard touchdown that wouldn’t affect the outcome of the game.

Minnesota’s defense should be quite pleased with how it faired against the third-best red zone scoring offense from 2016. Slowing down Brees wasn’t going to be an easy task, but the unit found ways to apply pressure.

“I think Drew Brees was having to get the ball out of his hands before he really wanted to,” Minnesota defensive end Brian Robison said after the game. “We blitzed well and we were able to rush with our front four pretty well.”

What’s more, the Vikings won the battle on defense by not forcing a single turnover and registering a sack.

“We didn’t anticipate we were going to get a whole bunch of sacks because [Brees] gets the ball out quick,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said Tuesday. “He’s a tough quarterback to defend. They’ve got a Super Bowl-winning coach over there. We were just trying to fight, scratch and do what we could.”

The defense could be taking a similar approach in Week 2, given the difficulty in containing who’s under center.

Minnesota goes from Brees to Ben Roethlisberger in back-to-back weeks when it faces the Steelers, the top team in ESPN’s power rankings, in Pittsburgh this Sunday. Like Brees, Roethlisberger is notoriously difficult to bring down. He was sacked a total of 27 times last season and was only sacked three or more times twice last season.

The Vikings faced Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton and Eli Manning, all Super Bowl or MVP-winning quarterbacks, in a three-week stretch early last season en route to a 5-0 start.

While facing quarterbacks of the caliber of Brees and Roethlisberger certainly provides the defense with an early-season measuring stick, Zimmer is more focused on what the team will learn from its game plan for the entirety of the Steelers’ offense.

“I don’t know,” Zimmer said. “We’re going to play a lot of potential Hall of Fame quarterbacks as we continue to go forward. Just trying to take one week at a time. This week is a different week. The offense is going to be different. The preparation is going to be different. It’s going to be about how we prepare defensively for this offense. This offense is different than the other offense we just played, even though the quarterbacks are both excellent.”

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NEW YORK — Phil Simms is headed to the studio.

A fixture as a game analyst at CBS for two decades, Simms will join the network’s “NFL Today” cast for the upcoming season.

Simms recently was replaced as the top game analyst at CBS by Tony Romo after the Cowboys quarterback retired. Simms and CBS Sports president Sean McManus had been discussing Simms eventually moving to “NFL Today” for several years. He has experience in a similar setting from his work on Showtime’s “Inside The NFL.”

“When Sean told me he wanted me in the studio, I thought about it a bit,” Simms said Wednesday. “I told him I would like to do [games] a bit longer. I love doing the games, meeting during the week with coaches and players, getting the inside info. It is the best.

“But I also thought that I will work in New York and watch all the games instead of prepping for two teams, and will have all week to study the league, and that really intrigued me.

“There are a lot of things I don’t get to say on games I have a chance to say now. There are a lot of things I would like to talk about that I never would have talked about during games.”

Simms joins Boomer Esiason, Bill Cowher, Bart Scott and James Brown as part of the program. He says he’s more than comfortable being part of that lineup, and looks forward to some pointed conversations among the group.

“James and I get along really well,” he said, adding with a laugh, “on ‘Inside the NFL,’ we’re always playing footsie because I want him to send it back to me so I can challenge something someone said, or make a comment.

“Boomer and I have known each other for years and we do not have thin skins, so we can say anything with each other.

“Of course, Coach Cowher, well, he’s the coach, and we are going to disagree a lot because we were players and he was a coach.

“We all love football, and I think that will come across, and I hope we talk about the aspects of the game I have opinions about that are different from what you hear on some other [shows].”

McManus is certain that will be the case. His network received criticism for the Romo announcement that seemed to leave Simms in the cold. Instead, McManus believes the former quarterback who was part of two Super Bowl titles with the Giants is entering a new and productive phase of his broadcasting career.

“When the news hit that Tony Gonzalez would not be back on the show, this seemed logical,” McManus said. “We had a number of discussions about it and I was excited about it, and [Simms] was excited.

“This will be good for viewers. Anyone who has watched just 30 seconds of ‘Inside The NFL’ will know that.

“One of the things I like best, Phil has strong opinions, but he has a way of doing it in a very respectful way. And you see the interaction they have on ‘Inside The NFL.’ It’s really good stuff, a really good mix.”

Mixing in Thursday night games to Simms’ schedule made viewers wonder if the workload had become too heavy. Simms strongly disputes that, noting that he felt last season was the best on Thursday nights for the network.

“A lot of people said it wore on me, and I am not going to say it physically was easy,” Simms said. “I told everyone over the years, man when that game is ready to start, I never felt I was not completely prepared, and I couldn’t wait for them to turn the camera on.

“So that stuff is not true, it was never to the level where I couldn’t handle it.”

What about handling being absent from the broadcast booth after so many Sundays (and Thursday nights) behind the microphone?

“Yeah, the excitement of just being there, hearing the crowd, the prep and talking to the coaches and players who are such a part of it,” he said. “But I will probably get over that pretty quick.”