Giants face decisions on Pierre-Paul, Amukamara
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Coach Tom Coughlin's resignation was only the first step in an offseason that promises to see major personnel changes for the New York Giants after a second consecutive 6-10 campaign.
With an estimated $50 million of salary cap space available for free agency, the Giants will have to make decisions on many of their own 19 unrestricted free agents.
Among the most important are defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, cornerback Prince Amukamara, defensive end Robert Ayers, Jr., and defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins.
The future status of contracted injured players such as wide receiver Victor Cruz and left tackle Will Beatty could also come under consideration.
Pierre-Paul and Amukamara will draw the most attention. Each will be seeking major, long-term deals despite injury-plagued seasons that weakened the NFL's worst overall pass defense.
Neither player addressed his free agent future this week beyond saying they would not hesitate to re-sign with the Giants.
Pierre-Paul, the pass rusher who finished the season with one just sack in eight games after his return from the July 4 fireworks accident that cost him his right index finger and part of his right thumb, would not commit to the Giants.
''I don't know where I'm going to be,'' Pierre-Paul said as the Giants cleared out their lockers. ''Hopefully I am. But wherever I'm at, I'll be ready to go in at full effect.''
The Giants will have to decide whether to retain him on a one-year contract under the franchise tag for a second consecutive offseason, negotiate a long-term deal, or let him go into the open market. The Giants removed the franchise designation that would have paid him $14.8 million in 2015 after his accident.
This year's franchise tag could reach $17 million. The question is whether the Giants would invest that much in player who had trouble making tackles with a mangled right hand. He will soon have at least one more surgery to restore strength and range of motion in the hand.
''I'm going to do it as soon as possible,'' said Pierre-Paul, who played mostly with a club-like cast that prohibited him from grasping opposing quarterbacks and ball carriers.
Amukamara could be one of the top cornerbacks on the market, despite a down year following a five-game absence with a pectoral strain.
''I'd love to be here and finish my career here,'' the five-year veteran said. ''But that decision realistically is half up to me.''
Amukamara finished the season with 63 tackles, nine breakups, and one interception in 11 starts at right cornerback.
''The first five games I played, I put some good games together. Then I was out six weeks (with the bye) and came back and struggled a little bit,'' he said.
Ayers and Jenkins led the league's third-worst pass rush, which recorded just 23 sacks. Jenkins is a 12-year veteran, while Ayers is a seven-year veteran. Ayers missed four games with a strained hamstring.
Decisions on Cruz and Beatty may prove even more complex. Cruz, who was supposed to provide the second part of a 1-2 receiving punch with Odell Beckham, Jr., failed to play a down after a calf strain in training camp set him back in his return from the torn patellar tendon that ended his 2014 season. He is due $7.9 million in 2016, and could be in line for a severe pay cut.
Beatty tore a pectoral muscle before the season and saw first-round rookie Ereck Flowers blossom in his place at left tackle.
''In my mind, that's my spot,'' Beatty said. ''In this offseason, I'm working like that's my spot. I'm going to work at being a great left tackle. The surgery was done early enough that I can be back by the start of the season.''
At what price is the question. Beatty is owed $6.6 million. He may also have to take a pay cut to stay on the roster.
Other key free agents include standout placekicker Josh Brown, inconsistent receiver Rueben Randle, run-stopping defensive end George Selvie, and injured long-snapper Zak DeOssie.
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