By Steve Silverman
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Ahmad Bradshaw is a solid running back who can still be a productive player. Chris Canty did not play a full season in 2012 – just nine games – but when he is healthy and in the lineup he is a difference-maker. Michael Boley is not a special linebacker because he’s not going to make game-changing plays. However, he can run and he can tackle.
So the Giants axed three productive players. Before you throw your arms up in consternation, you have to know that the Giants are not just cutting players.
They are retooling their roster, and they will address these losses in the offseason. In cutting Bradshaw, Canty and Boley, general manager Jerry Reese has gotten rid of nearly $14 million in salary.
That money will almost certainly get pumped back into the team in the form of free-agent signings.
The Giants can’t be content to go into the 2013 season by “working hard” on the draft and adding rookies to the roster. The Giants have to look to free agency to make adjustments on defense.
NFL football has changed dramatically, but you still need a defense if you want to win a championship.
Or at least a defense that kicks in at the right moment. Prior to playing the Giants in Week 16, the Baltimore Ravens did not have much of a defense. But a unit that had defined the Ravens for at least 12 seasons seemed to come back to life when the Giants came to town and in the weeks that followed.
The Giants need to make moves on defense. They were 31st on defense last year as the pass-rush was difficult to find and the secondary went on walkabout.
The Giants have more than enough offense to be a championship team once again, but Reese and head coach Tom Coughlin know that the defense is not good enough as presently constituted.
Free agency may be the way for this team to proceed. Linebackers such as Anthony Spencer of the Dallas Cowboys, Paul Kruger of the Ravens and Daryl Smith of the Jacksonville Jaguars are the kind of players who can make a difference.
Smith may be the bargain in that group because he barely played in 2012 as a result of a groin injury, but he should be strong in 2013. He can rush the passer, is a solid tackler and he also can cover receivers.
The Giants almost certainly will address their needs in the secondary. They can use help at both cornerback and safety.
One of the players they need to give strong consideration to is cornerback Aqib Talib of the New England Patriots. Talib has been a major headache off the field throughout his career, but he has the ability to turn the Giants’ defensive back situation around.
Talib came to a Patriots secondary that would have had problems stopping a good high school passing offense — and we’re only half-exaggerating – and turned them into a much more competitive pass defense.
When Talib tweaked his hamstring in the AFC Championship Game and had to come out, the Pats had no chance of stopping Joe Flacco and the Ravens. Talib is an outstanding cover man and he seemed more interested in playing consistently after he came to Bill Belichick and the Patriots.
You get the feeling that a strong coach like Coughlin would not allow any backsliding from Talib.
Sean Smith of Miami and Cary Williams of Baltimore are also free-agent corners who deserve the Giants’ attention.
Dashon Goldson of San Francisco, William Moore of Atlanta and Jairus Byrd of Buffalo would be upgrades at safety. Byrd is more of a gambler than Goldson or Moore, but he knows how to make big plays.
So the Giants are not just cutting players. They are adjusting their roster so they can be in a position to make big free-agent signings.
That’s what they need to do to become a championship contender again.
Who should be the Giants’ main targets in free agency? Sound off with your thoughts and comments below…