2013 was a wacky year for the New York Giants.
Something that is lost on those who have reviewed New York’s season is that the team was one pass-defended away from turning a disastrous 0-6 start to a 6-6 record on the night of December 1. That fact does not eliminate, nor does it overshadow the glaring holes that exist on their roster. To fix those issues, the Giants are going to have to cut some dead weight.
The one thing that sticks out more so than anything else when reviewing New York’s cap numbers is that the two biggest letdowns, pertaining to players, were on offense. It’s a sure bet that half of those individuals won’t be wearing Big Blue past this March. They may get paid elsewhere, but they certainly didn’t earn it with their performances this past fall.
10. Prince Amukamara, CB: $2,231,154
Head coach Tom Coughlin and his staff will be hoping that 2013 was the breakout season Amukamara has desperately needed. The third-year pro showed glimpses of finally looking like a cornerback worthy of being a first round draft pick, and he could, depending on the futures of Corey Webster and Terrell Thomas, be the team’s No. 1 CB at the end of August.
Amukamara took steps to erase the “bust” label some had pinned on him before last preseason. His continued improvement is a must if New York is to compete for a playoff spot in 2014.
Grade: He’s getting there
9. Victor Cruz, WR: $2.53 million
Victor Cruz put pen to paper on a five-year, $43 million extension with the Giants last summer. While he didn’t put up historic stats (much like the rest of the New York offense), Cruz more than earned his pay. Manning’s favorite target caught 73 passes for 998 yards (both team highs) and four touchdowns.
2013 showed that Cruz does need to play alongside another top WR, Nicks a couple of years ago, if he is to be a game-changer capable of taking the ball to the house almost every time he touches it. That’s a lot of pressure to put on fellow New York wide receivers Rueben Randle and Jerrel Jernigan. The Giants could look to find Cruz a partner in crime in free agency or in the draft.
Grade: Best offensive player on the team, and a bargain
8. Jason Pierre-Paul, DE: $2.8 million
2013 was an extremely frustrating year for the pass rusher affectionately known as JPP. He had back surgery in the offseason, and Pierre-Paul never seemed fully recovered mentally or physically from that procedure. A shoulder problem also nagged him during the season.
Pierre-Paul finished the campaign with only two sacks, a number that is absolutely unacceptable for the man who is the cornerstone of the defensive line. That said, JPP is just 25-years old. He’s being paid for now and for the future.
Grade: Come back stronger next summer
7. David Diehl, OT: $3.125 million
Sports aren’t just about facts and figures. They’re also about those who give everything to their team. David Diehl was one of those players, sacrificing his body for 11 years until the day would come when it finally gave out.
That day has seemingly arrived, as Diehl is set to call time on his playing days. A fifth round draft pick all the way back in 2003, Diehl played on two New York Super Bowl teams. He was a leader on and off the field, and he’ll be missed.
Grade: Worth every penny, but it’s time to ride off into the sunset
6. William Beatty, OT: $3.35 million
William Beatty had a lousy 2013 after signing a brand new five-year deal with the Giants. He was often beaten by pass rushers, and was part of an offensive line that ranked dead last in the QB Pressure Rates column. Then, to add injury to insult, he suffered a serious right leg injury in the season finale.
The Giants believe they’ll have Beatty back in time for the start of the 2014 season. They should be hoping that the Beatty of 2012 and not 2013 will return. He simply didn’t earn his pay last year.
Grade: Refund, anybody?
5. Hakeem Nicks, WR: $3.1 million
Not since Plaxico Burress accidentally shot himself in the leg have we seen a wide receiver do so much to actively get himself knocked off the roster for the Giants. Nicks reeled in only 56 of 102 targets, and he didn’t find the end zone a single time. He also very much appeared to be merely going through the motions in the final few games of the season.
Then came the reports after the season that Nicks was fined “multiple times” for being late for team activities and also for missing treatments.
His time with the Giants has run out.
Grade: Don’t let the door hit ya…
4. Mathias Kiwanuka, DE/LB: $4.125 million
It seems like ages ago that a neck injury was a possible career-ending problem for Kiwi. While he has been a loyal solider for the club since being taken in the 2006 NFL Draft, the fact is that pro football is a business. Kiwanuka had a solid 2013, picking up six sacks and 41 total tackles.
He did not, however, earn a paycheck worth double that of New York defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.
Kiwanuka is, on paper, an easy cost cut. It’s likely that his best football is behind him, and the upcoming draft is very deep in similar talent that will come at a fraction of the cost. He would have to be willing to make massive changes to a contract that has a 2014 cap number of just over $7 million. As mean as it may be to say, he doesn’t deserve to be paid as does a superstar.
Grade: Not worth it
3. Justin Tuck, DE: $6.15 million
The veteran of nine years had, like the Giants as a whole, a roller coaster season. He was largely an invisible man up through the middle of October, but he then racked up 10.5 of his season total 11 sacks in Weeks 7-16. Tuck was the star of a pass rush that didn’t play to expectations, and that may have been enough to earn him a decent payday; just not with the Giants.
Tuck, who has battled nagging injuries over the past few seasons, will turn 31 years old in March, the same month he could become a free agent. It’s no secret that he wants to stay with the club, but the Giants are likely going to want at least a small discount to complete that deal. We shall see.
Grade: Thanks for everything regardless of where you are in August
2. Antrel Rolle, S: $9.25 million
Antrel Rolle was one of the lone bright spots on a defense that disappointed throughout a six-game losing streak. He led the team in both total (98) and solo tackles (80). In the entire NFL, only Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks finished the regular season with more interceptions (8) than Rolle (6). Two other players also had six interceptions in 2013.
Rolle’s worst moment of the season, getting beaten on a third down on the final drive of the game in the team’s home loss to the Dallas Cowboys on November 24, doesn’t erase all the good he did during the campaign. The 31-year-old showed he still has plenty left in the tank.
Grade: Team MVP
1. Eli Manning, QB: $20.85 million cap number
There’s no nice way to say it. Eli Manning had the worst season of his NFL career in 2013. He completed under 58 percent of his passes, threw for 18 touchdowns and 27 interceptions and was also sacked on 39 occasions.
Manning will again be the team’s highest-paid player in 2014, and with good reason. He is a two-time Super Bowl MVP, after all. The Giants have to do whatever possible to bolster what was, in the first six weeks of the campaign, the worst offensive line in the NFL.
Manning can only do so much by himself.
Grade: Must do better, must get help
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