EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Change is coming. It is beginning near the top for the New York Giants, with a new coach and general manager, and will filter all the way through the roster by the time spring rolls around.
When all is said and done, the Giants could be a completely different looking team.
Before the Giants (2-13) get there they must finish out this disastrous season Sunday by hosting the Washington Redskins at MetLife Stadium. It’s a matchup of two teams that have long been out of playoff contention. The game is strictly for pride and draft positioning.
It could also be a farewell of sorts. It could be the last time we see these players in Giants uniforms:
Note: Brandon Marshall, Jonathan Casillas, D.J. Fluker, Dwayne Harris, Mark Herzlich, Janoris Jenkins, Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg and Keenan Robinson are on injured reserve and were not included even though it’s possible they may have played their final game with the Giants.
The key decisions
Eli Apple’s immaturity and outbursts will likely cause the Giants to move on from him. Brad Penner/USA Today Sports
QB Eli Manning — If the Giants draft a quarterback with their top pick they must decide if Manning will serve as the bridge/mentor. And Manning must decide if he even wants to serve in that role. He’s 37 years old and signed for two more seasons, but it might be best served for both Manning and the Giants to part ways now with it known that it’s only a matter of time before the team moves on. This will be among the new GM and coach’s first big decisions.
CB Eli Apple — It is going to be hard to keep last year’s Top-10 pick around after he irked a good chunk of the organization this season and was called “a cancer” by one of his teammates. He was ultimately suspended after a confrontation with cornerbacks coach Tim Walton. When the new GM and coach arrive and start cleaning out the locker room it would make sense to start with Apple. It would be hard to bring him back.
CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie — This is a money decision for the new regime. Rodgers-Cromartie costs $6.5 million in real money and $8.5 million against the salary cap next season. That’s a hefty price if they intend to keep him as the slot cornerback.
OTs Ereck Flowers and Bobby Hart — The two young tackles have struggled badly and aren’t particularly popular in their own position room. They could be casualties if there is a concerted effort to reshape the culture and locker room. Flowers, as a former first-round pick, could also get a look at a different position other than left tackle.
K Aldrick Rosas — It’s hard to keep a kicker who only makes 70 percent of his field goals. Rosas went through some rookie growing pains, so you would think that he at least gets a chance to compete for a job next spring and summer. The Giants could also just decide to move on from the failed experiment.
The free agents
QB Geno Smith — His one-year stint with the Giants included one start. It might have been enough to at least attract the interest of another team, where he can compete for a starting job.
RB Orleans Darkwa — The Giants were lukewarm on bringing him back last year. They weren’t even willing to offer him the full tender as a restricted free agent. Darkwa finally had a strong season and was able to remain healthy. It could earn him some money that the Giants might not want to pay. It’s not out of the question for him to return though.
RB Shane Vereen — His contract was reworked prior to the season and his role was somewhat reduced. The veteran appears on his way out with the Giants.
2018 NFL DRAFT
When: April 26-April 28
Where: Arlington, Texas
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WR Tavarres King — He was cut, re-signed and later deactivated this season alone. He’s far from a lock to return.
LB Devon Kennard — A quality contributor and locker room presence who might find a bigger role elsewhere. Kennard is an asset against the run and has flashed as a pass-rusher (3.0 sacks) this season. If the Giants switch to a 3-4 defense his chances of returning increase. They need some linebackers.
DT Jay Bromley — The 2014 third-round pick is part of the Giants’ defensive line rotation. He’s never been able to consistently earn a starting role with the team. He could look for a better opportunity elsewhere.
DE Kerry Wynn — He makes plays when he’s on the field, but his opportunities have been limited the past couple seasons. Wynn could attract some interest elsewhere. He visited with the New England Patriots as a restricted free agent this offseason.
S Nat Berhe — He’s been buried on the bench for most of the past two years. Berhe is a prime candidate to start fresh with his ability to contribute as a heavy-hitting strong safety and special teams contributor.