Following a disappointing 9-7 season in which the New York Giants were shut out of the playoffs, after losing two of their final three games. Just a year removed from a second Super Bowl title in the last five years, the Giants struggled badly on defense, finishing the season with the second worst defense in yards per game and their No. 14-ranked offense wasn't good enough to pull the team into the postseason.
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Following the Super Bowl, the Giants have had some tough decisions to make. They were forced to release three of the players that helped them win Super Bowl XLVI following the 2011 season, defensive end Osi Umenyiora, running back Ahmad Bradshaw and defensive tackle Chris Canty, all of whom have been with the Giants for at least four years and Umenyiora and Bradshaw have been with the team their whole careers.
Bradshaw and Canty were the first to get the axe. Bradshaw was released following his second 1,000-yard season with the team. He was a seventh-round pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. He contributed heavily, but didn't premier as the team's main ball carrier until the 2010 season as he was splitting carries with Brandon Jacobs early in his career. The Giants will likely rely on a combination of Andre Brown and David Wilson, who shared some of the load in 2012 with Bradshaw, for the upcoming season.
Bradshaw is likely going to be one of the biggest-name free-agent running backs on the open market heading into the 2013 season. There are several teams that could be interested in Bradshaw that had trouble moving the ball on the ground in 2012. Bradshaw could find his way onto a team like the Cardinals, Jaguars, Raiders, Chargers or Steelers in 2013.
Canty is the only one of the three players to have ever played a professional football game for another team other than the Giants. He was selected in the fourth round of the 2005 draft by the Dallas Cowboys. After four years in Dallas, he signed with the Giants prior to the '09 season. He only played in eight games in his first season with the Giants and only in nine in 2012, but in 2010 and 2011 he played in every game. Through his time with the Giants he has made 124 tackles and nine sacks.
Canty could add depth to an already developed defensive line or he could be signed by a team looking to develop their front seven. Canty may blend in to some of the free-agent defensive linemen throughout the league, but he should still get picked up by a team and likely has a solid chance to start or at least be rotated heavily. The Cincinnati Bengals have soaked up several talented defensive linemen over the last few seasons and could be interested in Canty, if the price is right. Other teams like the Saints, Jaguars, Buccaneers or Redskins could be looking to add some talent on defensive lines that struggled in 2012.
Umenyiora is in a little bit of a different situation. He wasn't released. Instead his contract was voided, which means that he can't sign with a team until free agency officially begins on March 12. He was selected in the second round of the 2003 NFL Draft by the Giants and has been a heavy contributor throughout his career in New York at defensive end. He has made 376 tackles and sacked the opposing quarterback 75 times in his time with Giants as well as won two Super Bowls.
Out of the three released by the Giants, Umenyiora may be receiving the largest contract with a new team for the 2013 season. He didn't have as good of a year in 2012, accruing six sacks, as he did in 2011 when he sacked the quarterback nine times in only nine games played. However, in today's passing league, players that have proven they can rush the passer are expensive. The Jaguars, Chiefs, Buccaneers and Raiders all struggled badly at pressuring the opposing quarterback and could possibly look to sign Umenyiora for the upcoming season and beyond. The Giants will likely be OK at defensive end as both Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul combined for 10.5 sacks in 2012.
The Giants will be looking to fill the holes left by these three in the draft and with cheap free agents as they'll also be looking to bounce back from a disappointing season. Umenyiora, Bradshaw and Canty will also be looking to continue their careers with new teams. All three of them will likely get signed. Whether or not they'll find the same success they did with the Giants is currently unclear, though.