Two years ago the Giants let Mario Manningham walk in free agency, mostly because they had Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks on the roster. Now that Nicks has left the team, signing with the Colts without so much as a contract offer from the Giants, it could be Manningham who helps fill his void.
The Giants will visit with the free-agent receiver Monday and could wind up re-signing their former third-round pick.
Manningham made one of the great catches in Giants history in Super Bowl XLVI, but since that day things have not gone great for him or the team. Manningham bolted to the 49ers on a two-year deal during which a 2012 ACL tear limited him to 18 games and 51 receptions.
The Giants haven't been back to the playoffs since Manningham's departure. Perhaps both sides believe a reunion will help bring back the good times.
That's not to say the Manningham signing is a done deal. The Giants undoubtedly will have questions about his knee. And Manningham has no "familiar with the system" advantage because new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo is overhauling the offense. But the Giants do have a history of bringing players back from exile after turning their backs on them. Just last year they signed cornerback Aaron Ross and running back Brandon Jacobs after stints elsewhere. Heck, they even took a visit from Plaxico Burress when he got out of jail in 2011.
While nostalgia drips from Monday's visit, the Giants spent part of the weekend solidifying two other areas of need: their secondary and their special teams. They signed cornerback Walter Thurmond, most recently of the Super Bowl champion Seahawks, as well as safety and kickoff returner Quintin Demps. Both are one-year contracts.
Thurmond played mostly in the slot for the "Legion of Boom" secondary in Seattle and his addition likely spells the end of Terrell Thomas' tenure with the Giants. Thomas is a free agent.
"I play the game to win championships," Thurmond said. "The Giants organization has a lot of prestige, a lot of history in that aspect of winning four Super Bowls. We want to bring another one here."
Even with the addition of Thurmond, the Giants went forward with Sunday's scheduled meeting with free-agent cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. They also had a visit from former Cowboys defensive end Anthony Spencer Sunday. Spencer, 30, is coming off microfracture knee surgery.
As for Demps, he led the Chiefs with four interceptions in 2013 but his main role with the Giants will be in the return game. He was third in the NFL with a 30.1-yard kickoff return average on 33 runbacks, including a 95-yard touchdown at Washington on Dec. 8. The Giants were ranked 27th in kickoff returns in 2013.
"I'm a fan of the game and I'm pretty sure we all know they could use some help in that area," Demps said. "That's kind of why they signed me. I'm here to do my part, play my role and hopefully help them win a championship."