The New York Giants have a lot of work to do if they are going to be a contender in the NFC East next season. GM Jerry Reese is very good at not offering crazy big contracts to his players. That was shown yesterday when Osi Umenyiora signed a free agent contract to play with the Atlanta Falcons. Reese has always said that Osi was one of his favorite players. But Reese isn't a fan, he's in charge of giving out contracts and he wasn't willing to give the money that Osi wanted. As soon as John Abraham was cut by the Falcons and signed with the Denver Broncos, it made sense that would be Umenyiora's landing spot. He signed a two-year, $8.5 million contract with the Falcons and $5 million of the deal is guaranteed. This is not the deal of Umenyiora’s dreams, but it is certainly more than Reese was willing to give him.
The Giants will feel this loss. Sure they will still have Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul as starters and Mathias Kiwanuka will move into the defensive end rotation but the loss of Osi means losing the dynamic heartbeat of the operation on the defensive side. The defense had fallen off in 2012, but poor secondary play was the main reason for that. The pass rush wasn't as strong but the talent was still there. This loss is bad for the Giants and they will need to retool in the draft next month.
The Giants looked at Umenyiora as a player who was in the downhill-slide portion of his career. The Falcons don’t look at him the same way, and that’s why they gave him a new deal. Another loss comes with Chase Blackburn signing with the Carolina Panthers. He's had a few big plays for the Giants but he was a very consistent performer who had 98 tackles and 5 forced fumbles last year for the Giants. Blackburn isn't a great, strong athlete but he played the game hard, studied long, and was almost always in the right position to make the plays.
Maybe the Giants didn't think that Blackburn was as athletic or quick as they would have liked so that's why they brought in 27 year old Dan Connor. But I don't think that it's that simple. Teams that figure their key contributors have a shelf life and are slowing down because they are a year older, and not because of any evidence on the game film, are making a mistake and that's what the New York Giants have done with Chase Blackburn.
Losing Umenyiora and Blackburn means that the Giants have a lot of work to do the rest of the offseason if they still want to be considered one of the league’s elite teams. Reese may have firm control over the team’s purse strings, but when it comes to bringing in talent, he may not be up to it.