Don’t let the headline fool you, no, the Giants do not have any issues with any of their restricted free agents (most notably, Barry Cofield, among others), but Giants issues do exist for several other teams as the uncapped year continues to wreak havoc on long term deals and player contracts.
In San Diego the Chargers are having an ond-fashioned standoff with two pro bowl caliber players, wide receiver Vincent Jackson and left tackle, Marcus McNeill. Neither player has signed their restricted free agent tender and the deadline to do so (June 15) is coming like a freight train. Who blinks first? San Diego GM A. J. Smith hedged his bet with the signing of former Iggle, veteran tackle Tra Thomas, so McNeill’s leverage just went down a bit (to be fair, Thomas is an over-the-hill player at this point in his career and would be a nice backup at either tackle spot, but I am not sure you want to trust franchise QB Philip Rivers’ health all year with Thomas. At least he Chargers can take solace with the fact that they reside in the AFC West, which is still the worst division in football.
The Super Bowl champ Saints are engaged in a battle with Pierre Thomas, the 2009 fantasy breakout candidate who battled injuries and never really broke out (if you had Pierre Thomas as one of your top two running backs, you know what I mean). Regardless, Thomas is the back of the present and the future (apologies to Reggie Bush who is just not a starting running back, albeit he is a versatile do-it-all weapon out of the backfield). Thomas, in the prime of his career, want s to get paid, and the Saints latest reported offer (Chester Taylor money) has not exactly impressed Thomas’s camp. This should get interesting.
Nice job by Jerry Reese and company to take care of their own with long-term signings of Chris Snee, David Diehl, Corey Webster, Justin Tuck, and Osi Umeniyora. One more reason why the JPP pick makes a ton of sense is Mathias Kiwanuka’s pending unrestricted free agency after this year and the still up-in-the-air Osi situation. Jerry has hedged his bet here and we like it, you can never have too many pass rushers and the Giants may also not want to pay Kiwi like a star when he just isn’t a star, he is a good young defensive end who has yet to put it al together though he plays steady against the run and is a decent pass rusher. Steve Smith has to be next in line for a new contract and I think a deal will get done at some point, but there is no urgency on the part of the Giants. Don’t get me wrong, Steve Smith was easily the most important and productive receiver for the G-men last year, enjoying a breakout campaign with over 100 catches. The Giants do risk another huge season by Smith driving up his price tag, but the continued development of Nicks, Manningham, Barden and company helps this situation out tremendously. At the end of the day, Smith will ink a long term deal, it is just a matter of when. Again, Jerry Reese knows how to take care of his own (Mike Tannenbaum, are you listening?). Stay Blue!