NFL Free Agency: Giants will seek to inject life into return game

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

The Giants’ kickoff returns were electric in 2012 with rookie David Wilson amassing a league-high 1,533 yards on 57 attempts. In 2013, Wilson’s role shifted to No. 1 RB and then he was felled by a season-ending neck injury, limiting him to nine returns. Rookie RB Michael Cox (20) and WR Jerrel Jernigan (11) were not nearly as impactful as Wilson and zazz went out of the Giants’ return game.

On punts, WR Rueben Randle handled 29 of the Giants’ 34 punts, calling a fair catch on 24 of them. His job was simple: don’t turn it over. He averaged 8.2 yards per attempt. The last time the Giants returned a punt for a TD was Dec 16, 2009 when Domenik Hixon took it 79 yards to the house against Dallas.

With Wilson not expected to begin the season on the active roster and a clear need for a bonafide punt returner, you can bet the Giants will be seeking to upgrade their return game this spring.

Jordan Raanan of the Star-Ledger has identified the top free agent returners the Giants could be looking at come March 11:

1. Jacoby Jones (Ravens)

2. Devin Hester (Bears)

3. Dexter McCluster (Chiefs)

4. Ted Ginn (Panthers)

5. Quintin Demps (Chiefs)

Others: Josh Cribbs (Jets)

Raanan gets it right with his analysis, too:

Rueben Randle was a fair-catch machine last season. He was sure-handed, but hardly explosive. As as result, the Giants are putting an emphasis on the return game this offseason. Owner John Mara said as much in his year-end press conference — they need a returner. Translation: They will get a returner.

Don’t be surprised to see the Giants go after Jones, McCluster or Ginn, all of whom would kill two birds (veteran WR/returner) with one stone. McCluster would actually kill three birds. A player with his skill set would also give the Giants a much-needed pass-catching threat out of the backfield. It probably doesn’t hurt that the Giants saw first hand what a difference McCluster can make when he returned a punt 89 yards against them this past season.

The neglect on special teams has gone on long enough. The Giants need to get that punch back in all facets of the game. With the offense in for a trying year with a new system and the defense lacking the takeaway ability of seasons past, they need to vastly upgrade on specials in 2014.




9 comments
billysuede
billysuede

mccluster would be absolutely sick with big blue. the question is at what cost and how does the cost affect the rest of the free agent/draft strategy.

Skookaloop
Skookaloop

Mr.F--" you can BET the Giants will be seeking to upgrade their return game this spring."

REESE has NEVER UP-GRADED the RETURN-GAME, EVER !!!

You will Lose that BET....

UPGRADE ?!?!?!?!?

--- Just a PLAYER,

who has Returned Punts or Kick-Offs in College would be an UP-GRADE....

McGeorge
McGeorge

Julian Edelman is also a good punt returner.


Michael Stewart
Michael Stewart

john,

Good article and Jordan Raanan narrowed it down very well. Looking at the list of players that could interest the Giants

 Jacoby Jones (Ravens)

 Devin Hester (Bears)

 Dexter McCluster (Chiefs)

 Ted Ginn (Panthers)

 Quintin Demps (Chiefs)

Jones and Hester would demand more in salary, while McCluster and Ginn would most likely be more reasonable in price. Based on the way GM Reese operates and the way the Giants have approached free agents in the past. The player on the list that makes the most sense is Ted Ginn Jr. In all likelihood the least expensive of the group and still a dangerous return man.