John Fennelly, Lead Writer“Core Four” is a cliche used in New York sports these days when it comes to identifying a team’s heart and soul. It derives from the Yankees of the late ’90s and early ’00s when they had Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada (Bernie Williams has been thrown in occasionally as a fifth member.)
Football is a bit different than baseball when it comes to keeping talent longterm. Contracts are not guaranteed in the NFL and players get released early out of their commitments due to salary cap constraints, which does not happen very often in baseball.
The Giants have had cores of players over the years that contributed to success. In the ’80s, Lawrence Taylor, Phil Simms, Carl Banks and Mark Bavaro were core players. In the ’90s, Jesse Armstead, Michael Strahan, Rodney Hampton and Howard Cross carried the torch.
Strahan would continue as a core player in the new millennium, along with Eli Manning, Chris Snee and, yes, Tiki Barber. This current group still has Eli and Snee, but the opening at the other end of the tunnel is a lot more visible for them these days.
Who are the “core” players on the Giants’ roster right now?
Manning is certainly one, for now, anyway. The Giants go as he goes. He is signed until the end of the 2015 season, and depending on his performance between now and then, will be granted an extension. The Giants would prefer life with him than without, but if he continues to be a turnover machine, they may go in another direction.
Snee may be looking at his last season as a pro. Hip and elbow surgeries may send him into retirement after this season when his contract ends. He is a warrior, however, and the team is allowing him all courtesies in order to keep him on. They want him to finish out his career by helping them with the transition of the offensive line from old to new.
Outside of those two, the Giants have other veterans they may or may not bring back when their contract ends. S Antrel Rolle is in the final year of his deal. Yes, he’s a Pro Bowler, but he’s getting up in age and could return next year, but will not be brought back at his current rate. Rolle will collect every penny of his 5-year/$37.5m deal (and average of $7m per) and the Giants will be looking to get younger going forward.
DE Mathias Kiwanuka is another veteran that could be released after this season, although they would have to eat a considerable amount of his $7.45m cap hit.
So, who are this next generation’s Core Four?
Here’s our picks:
WR Victor Cruz – signed a longterm deal last season and will likely have his prime seasons in Giant Blue. A true representative of the franchise for years to come.
DE Damontre Moore – only in his second season, Moore showed flashes of what he could do last season. With JPP in the final year of his contract, it’s hard to predict whether or not the Giants will look to resign him if he does not play up to par. That is where Moore steps in.
OL Justin Pugh – was steady as one could want as a rookie last year. A quality guy that should be here for a decade. May possibly grow to become a Pro Bowl-caliber player.
CB Prince Amukamara – got his fifth year extension last month and if all goes as planned may be here for many more seasons.
Those are ours. Let’s hear yours…