The Giants won a Super Bowl after losing two of their primary offensive weapons in free agency and two main defensive contributors to injuries. It appears they'll try to defend the title without them as well.
Cornerback Terrell Thomas and linebacker Jonathan Goff are headed to the open market and Steve Smith and Kevin Boss, both now available for a Big Blue encore, are not expected to return to the Giants.
UPDATE, 10:20 a.m., Tuesday, March 13: Terrell Thomas re-signed with the Giants.
Thomas and Goff will become free agents at 4 p.m. Tuesday unless there is a drastic change in negotiations between them and the Giants. A source familiar with the negotiations between the Giants and both players said there is "nothing imminent" in terms of their signing.
Earlier this month, Thomas' return at least seemed like a slam dunk. "I don't think they want me to hit the free-agent market," Thomas said in a radio interview March 1.
Thomas and Goff were expected to be key players on the 2011 Giants and could have signed lucrative long-term deals, but both suffered torn ACLs in the preseason. They eventually may wind up back with the Giants, but apparently not after testing a market that will determine their values.
Meanwhile, the Giants are afforded an opportunity to bring back two of last year's free agents who got away. Smith's one-year contract with the Eagles is up, and Boss will be released from the Raiders Tuesday, according to multiple reports. Boss had signed with the Raiders for four years at $16 million with $6 million of it guaranteed.
As alluring and sentimental as a reunion may seem -- especially considering the players' knowledge of the offense, their relationship with Eli Manning and the Giants' need at tight end -- the Giants are not expected to get the band back together. At least not now.
Perhaps later in free agency, if other options don't work out for the Giants and either of the two still is available, something could work out. But there are too many questions regarding the health of the players -- Smith's knees, Boss' concussions -- plus the bad taste that was left from Smith's sudden departure last summer, to make them immediate targets in free agency.
Tolbert likes Big Blue. Free-agent running back Mike Tolbert said he'd like an opportunity to play for the Giants in 2012. "They had that 1-2 punch with [Ahmad] Bradshaw and [Brandon] Jacobs, and without Jacobs there, that kind of leaves a hole in the offense, so to speak," Tolbert said on SiriusXM's NFL Radio Monday. "I think I could fill that void pretty good."
Tolbert said he and his family and agent have a list of about 12 teams he'd like to play for. One team not on the list? The Jets.
"They do sometimes have that whole media circus thing going on,'' Tolbert said, "and I'm not the type of person that gets into the whole limelight thing and throwing players under the bus and stuff like that."