Giants offseason transactions: Preparing for free agency

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

Catching you up on the Giants’ offseason moves thus far:

  • February 11 – Waived RB David Wilson, who missed the entire 2014 NFL season with a neck injury. The club will reportedly save $1.3 million in cap space by waiving their former first round pick.
  • February 11 – Signed OL Brett Jones, a free agent from the Canadian Football League to a three-year contract (2015: $435,000 2016: $525,000 2017: $615,000). No portion of Jones’ contract is guaranteed.
  • February 17 – Re-signed WR Kevin Ogletree to a one-year, $825K contract. Ogletree, 28, caught five passes in seven games after being signed by the Giants last October.
  • February 19 – Re-signed OL Dallas Reynolds to a one-year, $700K contract. Reynolds was a restricted free agent this offseason.
  • Feburary 24 – Waived DE Mathias Kiwanuka, a nine-year veteran with the team. The move frees up $4.825 million in cap space for the Giants.

Sometimes it’s the little moves that add up to a championship formula. The release of Wilson was simply a formality. Wilson essentially retired from football after doctors advised him to never strap on the pads again last spring. To read more of this story, click here

NFL: Houston Texans at New York Giants

Kiwanuka released by Giants

Update, 6:28 p.m.: The Giants listed “failed physical” as the reason for releasing Mathias Kiwanuka. Kiwanuka had knee surgery last year (Kaplan, Feb. 24).


The Giants have released Mathias Kiwanuka, the team announced.

New York drafted Kiwanuka with the No. 32 overall pick in the 2006 NFL draft. Over nine seasons with the Giants, Kiwanuka had 384 tackles, 36.5 sacks and three interceptions.

“Mathias has a warrior mentality,” Giants general manager Jerry Reese said. “He has been the ultimate team player for this franchise, and was a true pro from day one.”

He won two Super Bowls with the Giants.

Kiwanuka was set to make $4.8 million this season, which the Giants will save (Raanan, Feb. 24). The team has roughly $25 million in cap space heading into 2015 (Vacchiano, Feb. 24).

“The thing that has always impressed me about Kiwi is how serious he is about the game,” head coach Tom Coughlin said. “He was always prepared and always in outstanding condition and played very hard. And he had some nasty in him. I always felt like you could count on certain things from him: eight-nine sacks, harass the quarterback, and you could move him around, inside, outside. He is dependable, reliable and there is no question about his professionalism.

“I would have to back him off in practice and remind him that we’re not hitting the quarterback. He would always agree and then I’d have to remind him again the next play. His character and professionalism and serious approach to the game will be missed.”


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 Jonas Schwartz, SNY:

Kiwanuka’s release shows how the Giants are forced to move on from their recent championship past. What’s truly interesting about this is while they are moving on from their recent glory on the player side, they continue to cling to it on the coaching side with Tom Coughlin staying despite the declining results of the last few years. Also, keep in mind how when it comes to the staff, they once again embraced the good times of yesteryear by going back to the Steve Spaganuolo, the defensive coordinator Kiwanuka won the first Super Bowl with.

When you look at how time has marched on you see how much more challenging a circumstance this will be for Spags. When he first arrived in New York he walked into a situation with premiere pass rushers in Strahan, Tuck, Umenyiora — and yes, Kiwanuka. Now all he is likely left with is Jason Pierre-Paul, who’s never been the same since his big breakout performance a few years ago. Spaganuolo’s great schemes were no doubt aided by the incredible talent he had on the roster. As Kiwanuka’s release shows us that talent is fleeting. So, now the question will be whether Spags schemes can return this Giants franchise to the Canyon of Heroes… even though none of the players he did it with (Kiwanuka included) will be riding shotgun with him.

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

An expected move. Kiwi’s game has been declining for the past few seasons now and the Giants are moving on with JPP, Robert Ayers, Damontre Moore, Kerry Wynn and Devon Kennard.

They could also pick up another defensive lineman and/or pass rusher with the ninth overall pick in the NFL Draft. Walter Football.com, in their latest mock, have the Giants selecting Nebraska OLB/DE Randy Gregory: To read more of this story, click here

OSI Brings the Heat

Osi wants to retire a Giant

Osi Umenyiora wants to retire as a Giant when his playing days are over.

“It was nearly a third of my life that I was there in New York, and I did a lot of good things there,” Umenyiora said (ESPN, Feb. 24). “As a team, we won some Super Bowls. I was able to go to a couple of Pro Bowls and be like an All-Pro player over there. Unless I’m able to do that somewhere else — which I don’t know how likely that is — then it would only make sense, whenever it is that I retire.

“I’m not going to play another 10 years. I’m not going to play another three years. Whenever it is that I retire, I think it would only make sense for me to do that as a Giant.”

Over nine seasons with the Giants, Osi tallied 75 sacks over 129 games. He had 32 forced fumbles and 13 fumble recoveries, including three returned for touchdowns. He had over 261 tackles.

He signed a two-year, $11 million deal with Atlanta prior to the 2013 NFL season.

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Schrager: Giants will draft Amari Cooper

FOX Sports’ Peter Schrager believes the Giants will draft Alabama WR Amari Cooper with the No. 9 pick of the 2015 NFL Draft (Feb. 24).

“Cooper, to me, is the most polished wideout in this draft. And though there are definitely pass rush and offensive line, and absolutely defensive backfield needs, an Amari Cooper doesn’t come along too often,” Schrager wrote.

Cooper would theoretically pair with Victor Cruz and Odell Beckham Jr. as one of the best wideout corps in football.

“If Victor’s back, and Odell and Rueben [Randle], that’s a pretty good core. And there are some other guys, [Preston] Parker, [Corey] Washington, some younger guys. But if there’s a good receiver, guys, we’ll draft him,” Giants GM Jerry Reese recently said at the combine.

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

Kevin White has overtaken Cooper as the best WR in this draft. It’s likely the Giants have White ahead of Cooper on their board, too. White could be a top five pick, leaving WR-hungry teams staring down at Cooper.

It’s been written that several teams ahead of the Giants love Cooper. If he falls to the Giants, it will be a tough call. He likely won’t be the BPA on their board and the phones could be ringing regarding a trade. If the Giants do take him, they’ll be getting an NFL-ready receiver that has been compared to Marvin Harrison.

Schrager is right about Cooper. He is a polished receiver and his 4.42 40 yard dash at the combine didn’t disappoint. He is also said to be a coach’s dream.

But after taking Odell Beckham, Jr. in the first round last year, the Giants might be in for a letdown with Cooper. He’s not the physical wonder Beckham is, but they could become a deadly pair of wideouts for Eli Manning.

I think the draft will shake out where the Giants will be staring at top defensive player they just can’t pass on.

NFL Combine shines light on hidden gems

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

The combine always has players that create a buzz, players that may or may not have been on the radar of many NFL teams. This year is no different. Now, before you ask, you can bet the Giants and their scouts already knew about these guys. Now we know.

USATSI_8401848_110579513_lowresDE/OLB Vic Beasley, Clemson (6’3″, 246) - Helped his draft stock a great deal the past few days and is now raked the 4th top pass rushing prospect in the draft by NFL.com’s Mike Mayock. Even with the return of JPP and the rising prospects of Robert Ayers, Kerry Wynn, Devon Kennard and Damontre Moore, the Giants can always use another pass-rushing option. And a quality LB. Chances are Beasley isn’t the BPA come the Giants’ turn, but is things break right, he could be there at 41, when the Giants select in Round 2.

From Walter Football:

The star of the Combine on Sunday was Beasley. He raced a blazing 40 time after impressing on the bench press a day earlier. Beasley officially ran an official 40 time of 4.53 seconds. That blistering time was especially impressive considering he just added about 10-15 pounds of weight.

Beasley was impressive in the field drills as well. He was naturally athletic with a superb change-of-direction skills. Beasley can sink his hips, turn, flatten and accelerate. He showed that in the field work with a phenomenal display. After playing around 230 pounds, Beasley added some significant bulk to check in at 6-foot-3, 246 pounds. Considering the added weight he put on entering the Combine, Beasley’s great workout could help him to get pushed up draft boards by some teams.

Lance Zierlein of NFL.com believes Beasley would be better suited at OLB in a 3-4 defense.

Projects as 3-4 outside linebacker. Considered one of the best pure edge rushers in the draft, but needs more sophistication to his approach. Has speed and explosion to become an absolute menace for a creative defensive coordinator. High-impact talent but needs to crank up competitive nature in order to reach his potential. To read more of this story, click here

Schwartz has pins removed…

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GM Jerry Reese doubts Beckham Jr.’s hamstring tears

Giants general manager Jerry Reese is doubtful that Odell Beckham Jr. played his rookie season with two hamstring tears (SI.com, Feb. 22).

“I don’t know about that,” Reese said of Beckham Jr.’s injuries. “I think he’s trying to be a hero. I don’t think you can play with two [tears in your] hamstring and run fast like that.”

Reese said the team’s medical staff would have caught anything that severe, and the rookie likely would not have played in the Pro Bowl or some of the Giants games later in the season had he been dealing with such a serious injury.

Nonetheless, Beckham Jr. did miss the entire preseason as well as the first four games with hamstring problems. Of course, he came back to tally 91 receptions for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns, a performance that earned him NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.

“According to our doctors, it was healed up,” Reese said. “He may have gotten fatigued later in the season, but yeah, I don’t think you can go out and run like that if you have [tears in your hamstring].”