EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Retaining coach Tom Coughlin for 2015 was only the start of what promises to be a busy offseason to-do list for ownership, the coaching staff, and general manager Jerry Reese.
Co-owner John Mara said Tuesday that re-signing unrestricted free agents Jason Pierre-Paul and Antrel Rolle — at the right price — and continuing the rehabilitation of the 22 players who wound up on injured reserve were among the biggest needs for the franchise.
While expressing pleasure about the season-ending 3-1 stretch, Mara left no doubt that much energy will be expended to avoid another 6-10 disaster.
“This has been a very difficult year for our fans, and an even more difficult year for me,” Mara said. “I haven’t stomached this very well. It’s going to be a long offseason. But I think there is reason for optimism. I think we’ll be a better team next year, but just talking about it right now isn’t very convincing. Not coming off this type of season.”
Shoring up a defensive line that generated one of the league’s weakest pass rushes the first 11 games of the season will be a priority. Re-signing Pierre-Paul, whose nine sacks over the last five games gave him a team-high 12 ½ for the season, will be a decision wrought with salary cap consequences. But Mara was cautiously optimistic about keeping him in the Meadowlands.
“I’ll be surprised if he’s not a Giant next year,” Mara said.
But he also said he won’t break the bank for him.
“I’d like him back, but for the right price,” Mara said, adding that slapping the one-year, $9.04 million franchise tag on him is also an option. “He had a great finish.”
Reese said he met with all the team’s unrestricted free agents Monday, but has yet to engage in any negotiations with Pierre-Paul’s representatives. How he weighs the defensive end’s finish against the rest of his season could decide his future.
“The guy has the ability to be a game-changer, and we didn’t see that the first half of the season,” Reese said. “He’s had some injury problems. We’ve seen the guy be a dynamic player, and he’s still a young player. So now we have to have a conversation with John (Mara) and his agents and see what makes sense for everybody.”
Reese said regardless of Pierre-Paul’s or Rolle’s status, he did not plan on equaling the $116 million he spent on free agents last year.
“It won’t be wholesale changes. Last year we had to turn the roster over,” Reese said. “We’ll definitely do something to upgrade our roster. We’ve got a good corps of people coming back, regardless. You can’t turn your roster over every single year.”
“I would love to be here, man,” Rolle told WFAN radio on Tuesday. “I’m hoping that something can get done, we can work something out, and I can retire a Giant. But that’s not my call.”