John Mara was at a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Police Athletic League yesterday, and among his comments, he said that while he expects Eli Manning to sign a contract extension with the New York Giants, nothing is imminent. Earlier this week, Giants360 examined the implications of Ben Roethlisberger’s extension might have on Manning’s contract talks. The third member of the 2004 quarterback class, Philip Rivers, will not be signing an extension any time soon. Rivers said in an interview with Pro Football Talk that the Chargers potential move to Los Angeles is an impediment to his re-signing with the team.
There are several ways to interpret Rivers statement. One is to take it at face value, that he doesn’t want to go with the Chargers to Los Angeles. Although just over an hour north of San Diego, Los Angeles moves at a much different pace and Rivers and his wife Tiffany may not want to raise their six children there. From Alabama, the Rivers may be trying to force a trade to the quarterback needy Titans, the closest team to his home state that has a landing spot for him. Another option is this could all be a calculated negotiating ploy.
The Chargers have been scouting Marcus Mariota as a potential Rivers replacement, even though, drafting 17th, it would require a trade to acquire a pick high enough to take the Oregon quarterback. The bottom line is, if the Giants are waiting for a Rivers extension before finalizing a deal with Manning, they could be in for a long wait. From the way Mara was talking, a deal is in the works, but is not considered an urgent matter.
Mara addressed several other topics with the media yesterday, including free agency, where he referred to the overall pool of players in this year’s free agent class as “mediocre.” As had been reported, the Mara confirmed that the team had strong interest in Patriots safety Devin McCourty before he re-signed with New England on the eve of hitting the open market. Mara echoed the sentiments many have made about the contracts being made this off season, that some players are being “Over paid” and that the Giants were not interested in them once their price reached a certain level.
When asked about the Giants, Mara said the team still has several holes to fill, but that it’s, “So far, so good,” in free agency. He reiterated the team philosophy of building through the draft, stating that building a successful team, “Comes down to the draft, re-signing your own players, and free agency last.” He added that the team has had good draft in the past two years and needs another one in 2015.
Asked about the draft, he said he doesn’t see the Giants taking another wide receiver in the first round, “Unless the value is just too good to pass up.” This refers to rumors that Amari Cooper or Kevin White, both highly rated wide receiver prospects in next month’s draft have been linked to the Giants. While pairing either with Odell Beckham would give the Giants the top starting receiving pair in the NFL, Giants360 has maintained that with significant needs elsewhere on the team, pick 9 will not be a wide receiver.
Mara mentioned Osi Umenyiora, saying that he “Should retire a Giant.” This likely means that Mara would favor giving him a ceremonial one day contract to retire in blue. Umenyioura has been making some free agent visits around the league, but has yet to sign a contract for 2015. Also asked about Jason Pierre-Paul, Mara said that the team would like to sign him to a long term contract, but is not opposed to him playing under the franchise tag this season.
Finally, Mara said that he is pleased with the choice of Steve Spagnuolo as defensive coordinator, but that Tom Coughlin alone made the choice. He did go on to say he agree with the choice.
The Giants have made two free agent signings this week to bolster their run defense. Kenrick Ellis had been languishing behind Sheldon Richardson on the New York Jets talented defensive line. He considers himself a run defender first, and will pair nicely with Jonathan Hankins to clog the middle of the field on early downs and in short yardage situations. George Selvie is a journeyman defensive end who played with the division rival Dallas Cowboys for the past two seasons. He is also an accomplished run defender who completes the Giants primary run defending line along with of Pierre-Paul, Hankins, and Ellis.
Robert Ayers and Damontre Moore can be deployed as pass rushing specialists in Spagnuolo’s NASCAR package along with three down players Pierre-Paul. Selvie was a college teammate of Pierre-Paul at the University of South Florida.
The signings to bolster the defensive line also makes it more likely that the Giants will select an offensive lineman with their first round pick next month. The Ellis and Selvie signings give the team depth and flexibility against both the run and rushing the passer along the defensive line and fill two of the five glaring holes that were remaining on the team. Another potential first round option is linebacker, although given the lack of emphasis the Reese-Coughlin administration has placed on this position, using a first round pick on a linebacker seems unlikely.
Tight end Daniel Fells, the veteran backup who had a quietly strong season was also re-signed this week. The strongest blocking tight end on the team last season, Fells also served as a mentor to young starter Larry Donnell and third stringer Adrien Robinson. Bringing him back is a good move and adds quality depth to the roster.
If the Giants shift their attention back to safety, Dawan Landry and Jeromy Miles remain the best available free agent options identified by Giants360 in out article My Kingdom for a Safety. Ellis and Selvie were two of the linemen profiled in Reinforcing the Lines as strong run defending additions. Signing either of the free agent safeties would give the team the ability to select the best player available in the draft and truly put the best team on the field starting in September. Re-signing safety Stevie Brown would also be a good move to bolster the weakest position on the Giants roster.
Giants360 has a Facebook page now. Click the link and like it to join the fun. There is some content there that we are not yet able to share with our Twitter following due to app restrictions, so like the page today to make sure you get all the Giants content on your computer or mobile device.
If you’re not following on Twitter (@Giants360), you’re missing out on breaking Giants news, NFC East opponent news, and major NFL happenings in real time. It’s also a growing, interactive Giants community with over 18,000 members. Make sure you’re part of the Giants360 family and talk Giants football every day.
Giants360. All Giants. All Year Round