Jerry Reese doled out over $116 million in guaranteed money to free agents last offseason. He does not expect to come anywhere near that kind of mark again.
"We're not going to go out and spend a huge amount like we did this past offseason,'' the Giants general manager said Tuesday. "I think it's going to be a good core of guys coming back. There will be some changes like always. There are always changes every year and there will be some this time. But we definitely want to keep a good core of players because you can't turn the roster over every single year. You have to keep up a core of guys you can build around.''
One of the reasons why the impact of that spending spree never affected the record of the team was because most of the free-agent signings were hurt. Geoff Schwartz, Jon Beason and Walter Thurmond III appeared in a combined eight games. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie played in all 16 games but was slowed by injuries for most of the season. It's almost as if the Giants got nothing for that $116 million.
"If we can get back half of the UFAs who got hurt this year and have them make it through the season I think we have something to build on,'' president and CEO John Mara said. "If we get all of them back, then we really have something to build on.''
But not everyone will be back, and even those who are may not be the same.
Jason Pierre-Paul will be a free agent, and while Mara said he would be "very surprised if he is not a Giant next year,'' he also said it has to come at the right price. Mara said the Giants would consider using a franchise tag on Pierre-Paul.
There is also the question of safety Antrel Rolle, another pending free agent. The Giants may not have enough space under the cap to keep him and Pierre-Paul and Eli Manning, who will presumably receive an extension with one season left on his deal. (Mara said he'd like to see Manning retire as a Giant.)
And then there is Victor Cruz, coming off a torn patellar tendon. Cruz said last week he had no doubt he would return to be the same player he was before the injury, but Reese said part of his job is to anticipate what will happen if he does not.
"You never know,'' Reese said. "It's a significant injury that he had . . . Any guy who has a significant injury, just like David Wilson had a significant injury, you have to prepare as if maybe what if Victor doesn't come back. That's always in the back of your head. What if this guy doesn't come back and be the player that we think he is.''