ORLANDO, Fla. - Justin Tuck is no longer a Giant, but John Mara said the defensive end still holds a place in the Big Blue family.
"That was very hard,'' the Giants' co-owner said at the NFL meetings in Orlando on Sunday. "He was and still is very special to us. I'm happy for him that he got that kind of contract. It will be tough to walk into that locker room and not see him there.''
Tuck signed a two-year, $11-million contract with the Raiders on March 13. While the Giants will lose out on his production, which included a team-high 11 sacks in 2013, the bigger void will be his leadership. Tuck was a Giant for nine years and a captain for four years.
"Somebody is going to have to step up and be a leader,'' Mara said.
The obvious choice would be middle linebacker Jon Beason, who, unlike Tuck, was re-signed by the Giants this offseason.
"I hope so,'' Mara said of Beason's assuming that responsibility. "Hopefully between he and Antrel Rolle, and there are other guys who are capable of doing that . . . but we're obviously going to miss Justin quite a bit.''
Tuck's departure leaves the Giants with only four players who were members of both the Super Bowl XLII and XLVI teams: Eli Manning, Chris Snee, Zak DeOssie and Mathias Kiwanuka. Mara said he was unaware that the number of two-time champions had dwindled to such a low number.
"It is pretty hard to believe, but that's the nature of the business,'' he said. "Players come and go. It's an unfortunate part of the business, but it is what it is.''