The story’s all too familiar at this point—Tom Coughlin’s on the chopping block, Eli Manning’s about to get run out of town, then BANG! The strictest coach in sports and Peyton’s aw-shucks little brother one-up the team of the decade on the game’s biggest stage. For whatever reason, these Giants respond only to naysayers, and that’s exactly why you can expect a big resurgence from Big Blue in 2013.
Key contributors to the Giants’ championship seasons are entering contract years or are one mediocre year away from being cap casualties, and that, my friends, is all the motivation these Giants will need.
Hakeem Nicks, Chris Snee, David Baas, Justin Tuck, Corey Webster, and Antrel Rolle would all like to return to New York next year, but the jury is still out as to whether or not the Giants want them. If they play as well as they did in 2011, the Giants will be in the Super Bowl. Mark my words. That’s a big if, but it’s different this year.
On offense, Nicks wants to get paid like the top receiver he is, and as long as he stays healthy there’s no reason to think he wont be the stud of a loaded Giants passing attack. Snee and Baas are in the middle of $43.5 million and $27.5 million deals, respectively, and could be potential releases if they do not perform.
On defense, Rolle is in the same boat as Snee and Baas, and Webster and Tuck will be looking to sign the final long-term contracts of their careers after the season.
Essentially, this year boils down to getting paid for Nicks, Tuck, Rolle, and the rest. And if the collective mental grit and toughness the Giants showed in 2007 and 2011 is any indication of the individual mindsets of the veteran leaders of the Giants, then these players will have bounce back years.
As New York general manager Jerry Reese has shown in the past, he is willing to stare down a player in contract negotiations and let them walk. That has always been Reese’s best trait; he makes players prove their worth and looks to the future rather than what they have done in the past. The “prove-it” deals he generally signs players to have been really successful in the past and add fuel to the fire that motivates the Giants.
Brandon Myers's contract is the epitome of one of these deals. Myers signed a four-year, $14.25 million contract this offseason, but the Giants have a team option on the final three years, each with a base salary of $4 million, so the contract is basically a one-year deal worth $2.25 million.
It’s deals like these and other one-year deals that the Giants have given to guys like Aaron Curry, Dan Connor, Louis Murphy and Terrell Thomas that create many high reward, low risk cases for the Giants. What these deals do is create opportunity, and someone is bound to rise to the occasion turn a one-year deal into a lucrative five year pact—be it with the Giants or elsewhere.
That’s the kind of motivation these Giants need. They get complacent when things are going well. Just look at 2008 or even just last year. Once everyone accepts them as contenders things get rough. It’s when things are at their worst, when they’re written off and their players don’t know where their next paycheck is coming from, that they really come alive as a team.
And with the way the NFC East is shaping up, that motivation could turn into plenty of wins. The Eagles just lost Jeremy Maclin for the season and weren’t in great shape to begin with. The Redskins are relying on RGIII to come back at full strength to really make a playoff run. And the Cowboys? They’re the Cowboys. ‘Nuff said.
Expect the Giants to slip into the playoffs and to respond when Vegas lines list them as 10-point underdogs to NFC powerhouses like the Falcons, Packers, 49ers, and Seahawks, and expect the likes of Tuck, Nicks, and Rolle to respond to the immense pressure they face this season. They’ve done it before, and they will do it again, because they may not get the chance to if they don’t.
By: Zach B.