Commentary

Six key Giants with futures up in air

Big Blue has star players on both sides of the ball who are free agents right now

Updated: July 27, 2011, 3:59 AM ET
By Ohm Youngmisuk | ESPNNewYork.com

Here's a look at the New York Giants' most important free agents, as well as players the Giants might target from other teams:

Top unrestricted Giants free agents

Bradshaw
Bradshaw

Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, 5-9, 198, 4 yrs.

Most compelling reason to re-sign him: Bradshaw is entering his prime, is a Tom Coughlin favorite, and is just scratching the surface of his potential after gaining 1,235 yards and eight touchdowns in his first year as the main man.

Potential snag: He could get big money from another team (Bradshaw has expressed interest in the Dolphins). And his new agent is Drew Rosenhaus.

Most compelling reason not to re-sign him: Bradshaw lost six fumbles last season, and he has had surgeries on both of his feet and ankles.

Possible replacement: Carolina's DeAngelo Williams, San Diego's Darren Sproles, Miami's Ronnie Brown and Indianapolis' Joseph Addai are among the free-agent running backs available. The Giants also could explore the Reggie Bush situation in New Orleans if Bradshaw bolts.


Smith
Smith

Steve Smith, WR, 5-11, 195, 4 yrs.

Most compelling reason to re-sign him: Smith is Eli Manning's favorite and most-trusted target, and he is only one season removed from having 107 receptions in a Pro Bowl year.

Potential snag: Smith could land a bigger offer from another team willing to take a risk on a wide receiver coming off an injury.

Most compelling reason not to re-sign him: Smith is coming off delicate microfracture surgery and it could take a while before he returns to Pro Bowl form.

Possible replacement: There's always Plaxico Burress, but the Giants do have several wide receivers on the roster and drafted Jerrel Jernigan in the third round.


Kiwanuka

Kiwanuka

Mathias Kiwanuka, DE, 6-5, 265, 5 yrs.

Most compelling reason to re-sign him: The team's most versatile defender can start at linebacker, but he also could start at defensive end if Osi Umenyiora's contract situation isn't resolved.

Potential snag: Kiwanuka could seek a starting job and more money elsewhere.

Most compelling reason not to re-sign him: Kiwanuka missed all but three games last season with a herniated disk in his neck.

Possible replacement: Jason Pierre-Paul is waiting for his chance for more playing time. If Umenyiora is traded, it's JPP time.


Cofield
Cofield

Barry Cofield, DT, 6-4, 306, 5 yrs. Most compelling reason to re-sign him: Dependable and reliable, Cofield has been a starter ever since he was drafted in 2006, and he is coming off his best season as a pro.

Potential snag: Cofield wants a lucrative long-term contract.

Most compelling reason not to re-sign him: The Giants have Chris Canty, Rocky Bernard, Linval Joseph and second-round pick Marvin Austin at defensive tackle.

Possible replacement: The Giants drafted Joseph and Austin in the second round the past two years as future replacements for Cofield.


Boss
Boss

Kevin Boss, TE, 6-6, 253, 4 yrs.

Most compelling reason to re-sign him: The Giants' best tight end is a big target for Manning and comes up with big catches when utilized in the passing game.

Potential snag: Boss could receive a bigger offer from another team.

Most compelling reason not to re-sign him: Boss has taken some monster hits and suffered concussions in the past, but he is a warrior who is respected in the locker room.

Possible replacement: Oakland's Zach Miller likely will be the best tight end available in free agency. Travis Beckum will get a chance to step up if Boss leaves.


Grant
Grant

Deon Grant, S, 6-2, 215, 11 yrs.

Most compelling reason to re-sign him: The Giants had success with the three-safety look last season, and Grant brought a wealth of experience.

Potential snag: Grant might want more years, more money or a bigger role than the Giants are willing to offer.

Most compelling reason not to re-sign him: The Giants feel they have lots of depth in the secondary after drafting Prince Amukamara and safety Tyler Sash.

Possible replacement: Sash, who was drafted in the sixth round and will have to learn the entire playbook in training camp and get up to speed quickly.


On the Giants' radar

Plaxico Burress, WR, 6-5, 226, 9 yrs.
There are a bunch of Giants stars who want Eli Manning's big target back. But do ownership, Jerry Reese and most importantly Coughlin want Plax back? Does Plax even want to return? Judging by his comments about his frosty relationship with Coughlin, the odds of a reunion are not good, but he certainly wouldn't need much time to get reacclimated to the offense.

Paul Posluszny, MLB, 6-1, 238, 4 yrs.
The Giants have Jonathan Goff in the middle. But if they feel the need to upgrade, they could look at Posluszny, who played middle linebacker for Perry Fewell when he was the defensive coordinator and interim head coach in Buffalo. The linebacker says his first choice is to remain in Buffalo but he admits to being intrigued by the idea of playing for Fewell again.

James Anderson, OLB, 6-2, 235, 5 yrs.
Anderson is another linebacker the Giants could look at. He's coming off a breakout season, with 130 tackles and 3.5 sacks.

Stephen Nicholas, OLB, 6-3, 230, 4 yrs.
Nicholas, 28, has had 80 and 78 tackles the past two seasons for the Falcons. Has cover ability but has said that remaining in Atlanta is a strong possibility.

Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
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