By Ernie Palladino
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Some folks drink when under stress. Others eat.

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Jerry Reese? He spends money.

Perfectly reasonable. He’s under a lot of stress these days. His rear end is on the firing line, placed there squarely by Giants co-owner John Mara the day the Giants said goodbye to their coach instead of their general manager after a second straight 6-10 season.

“Fix it!” Mara said in so many words. “Last chance!”

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So the first shot Reese got — Wednesday’s Day 1 of the free agent signing period, stress level peaked — Reese threw around the greenbacks like Donald Trump after a fifth of Jack.

In a timespan only slightly longer than it took that defense to blow a boatload of fourth-quarter leads, Reese landed the open market’s premier pass rusher in Olivier Vernon, its pre-eminent cornerback in former Ram Janoris Jenkins, and one of the best run-stopping defensive tackles in the league in the Jets’ Damon “Snacks” Harrison. The previous day, he had come to an agreement with his own pass rusher, Jason Pierre-Paul, that looked like chump change next to the outlay the following day.

None of the three came cheap. Top-flight guys don’t. And Reese wasn’t bargain-hunting, either. But depicting his $204 million spending spree as anything less than breathtaking grossly understates the day’s emotions.

In a little more than three hours, the Giants’ defense went from Tin Lizzy to Cadillac, on paper. The pass rush went from NFL worst to its best, on paper. The secondary went from weak to strong, on paper. And the Giants went from losers to division favorites, on paper.

And there’s the rub. It’s all on paper right now. If anyone thinks Reese swallowed hard in handing over $85 million to Vernon, $62 million to Jenkins, and $46 million to Harrison, watch how his Adam’s Apple vibrates once the games start. These spending sprees don’t always work out.

The league learned that in 2011 when the Eagles went absolutely money-bonkers restocking their roster with high-end talent. Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, defensive end Jason Babin, and defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins, late of the Giants, came aboard.

By the time they were done, they had added running back Ronnie Brown and backup quarterback Vince Young to the offense, too.

Philadelphia was ready to build a statue to GM Howie Roseman; put it right up on top of City Hall next to William Penn.

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Voices around the league pronounced the Eagles as a “Dream Team,” and debated breathlessly over whether it was even worth playing the schedule. Just hand them the NFC title and get on with the playoffs.

That collection went 12-20 between 2011 and 2012. No playoffs. Andy Reid lost his job after the dream turned into a 4-12 nightmare that second year.

There’s no saying Reese’s big-money gambit works. But there’s no saying it doesn’t, either. It was simply something the general manager had to do, given the circumstances.

Four-year playoff drought.

Horrible defense.

New head coach.

A sinking franchise.

Nearest and dearest to Reese, his posterior on the line.

He’s not done yet. There are more defensive pieces to put in place, and they could use an offensive lineman and a wide receiver. And he still has about $25 million of cap space to get them.

Given all that and the resources available to him, how could he have proceeded any other way?

The hard part comes after all this is over. Can the new guys stay healthy? Will they play or settle into the contentment that a combined $114 million of guaranteed money brings? Has the league already seen the best of what these guys have to offer?

Those items all fall beyond Reese’s control. Yet, his job security depends on exactly those factors.

All he has to do now is hold his breath — right through the schedule.

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Follow Ernie on Twitter at @ErniePalladino