New York Giants Off-Season Chronicles #1: What To Do With Corey Webster and Four Other Contract Conundrums

In today’s NFL, there is absolutely no such thing as an off-season. Regardless of the month, or week, there is something happening in the front offices of each NFL team, and often times, it is reflected when the teams take the field in September. In a new series on Totally Biased, I will be looking at what Big Blue can do to return to the dominance it displayed in the 2011-2012 season.

In the first part of our series, we will take a look at some of the contract issues the Giants may run into, and what they could possibly do to make next season a success.

1. Corey Webster and His Inflated Contract

There has not been a cornerback in the entire league who has experienced such a dramatic downswing as Webster did this past season. After a fantastic 2011, the Giants looked primed to finally have a solid secondary coming into the season, with Prince Amukamara and Terrell Thomas looking to make names for themselves.

As we all know, Thomas suffered another torn ACL and didn’t see the field. Webster didn’t do much to help, and he often struggled to hang with number one receivers. Unfortunately, when you’re set to make 7 million dollars, you need to be that guy who can go up with some of the league’s most physical guys, and be able to create problems. The only problems that Webster caused during the season was to his own team.

After being targeted 96 times, Webster gave up 59 catches for a whopping 988 yards, which ranks him only behind Patrick Robinson and DeAngelo Hall for most in the league.

The only ending I see to this ordeal is for Webster to take less money. Free agency isn’t exactly booming with cornerbacks, and the Giants are out of money as it is, so the options are slim. Should Webster get cut, I think he is well aware it will be very hard to latch on with a team, especially one that will pay him more than 2-3 million. Knock the salary down to 4-5 million, and put it towards Victor Cruz or Hakeem Nicks.

#2 and 3. Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks: Wait, Pay, or… Well, Pay

I don’t think any Giant fan will argue with me when I say that Cruz has been one of the most exciting players on the team, and one of the lone bright spots from last year. However, Cruz certainly dropped off for a bit after his 2011 breakout performance. He had 12 uncharacteristic drops, most of which occurred due to his lack of focus, and looking ahead until the ball was secure.

Cruz has always seemed like the player who wasn’t going to let fame get the best of him, so I certainly hope he continues to work with Manning in the off-season and get some of the timing down. Expect the Giants to use Rueben Randle on the outside, opposite Hakeem Nicks, allowing them to leave Cruz in the slot, where he does far more damage.

Speaking of Nicks his contract will expire after next season, and reports are, he has become the focus of the Giants off-season plans. General Manager Jerry Reese is well aware that receivers of Nicks’ build do not grow on trees, and as exciting as Victor Cruz is, EliManning has consistently made stars out of his slot receivers

The time for Big Blue to lock up Hakeem Nicks is now. He’s coming off an injury plagued season, and will cost less than he ever will  again. Victor Cruz on the other hand, can be locked up for this year with only a tender, and it gives the Giants another year to see which Cruz they’ll be signing. The 2011 version, or the not-as-good-but-still-great, 2012 edition.

#4. Tag! You’re It!

Since 1993, the Giants are one of only seven teams to have used franchise tag three times of less, with two of them coming in the last few seasons, Brandon Jacobs in 2009, and Steve Weatherford just last season. Giants co-owner John Mara has spoken out that the Giants are most likely not going to use their franchise tag, which leaves Martellus Bennett, Will Beatty, and Kenny Phillips out of luck on cashing in on a big pay-day.

This is a good move for Big Blue, especially because the costs for tagging at those positions is well out of their reach, especially with the aforementioned Cruz and Nick deals. Reese and Co. have been great at replacing lost parts, especially at tight end and on the offensive line, and this year will require the most work in recent memory.

#5. Everyone Else

The Giants have plenty of other free agents to worry about including linebacker Chase Blackburn, safety Kenny Phillips, right tackle Will Beatty, guard Kevin Boothe, and tight end Martellus Bennett.

Blackburn should be safe, especially since he won’t cost a premium, and is one of the true special teams studs the Giants have. The emergence of Stevie Brown [also a restricted free agent], Kenny Phillips will have to come down to the Giants level to get signed. Another defender who is hurt just a bit too often, it wouldn’t surprise me if Reese lets him walk if he’s demanding anything over 5 million a season. Especially with Antrell Rolle earning the big bucks at safety for the G-Men.

Will Beatty will be top target for Big Blue, and although he could command upward of 7-8 million a season, he performed very well last year, and we all know what Eli can do with just that extra half second. Boothe however could become a victim of the system, as the Giants have some replacements they could slide in if Boothe’s price doesn’t match up with the Giants offer.

And finally, the Black Unicorn himself, Martellus Bennett. After coming over from the Cowboys in the off-season, Bennett performed admirably, and can still grow in his position. The Giants have a few options with Bennett. If he’s willing to accept a shorter contract, it could give the Giants time to focus on the defense during the draft instead of TE. If not, Big Blue could see what they have with Adrien Robinson, last year’s fifth-round pick, who is an absolute freak at 6′ 4″, 265 lbs.

Regardless of which way the Giants lean, with any of their pieces, one thing remains certain for Giants fans everywhere…

In Jerry We Trust.

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