Bucking Tuck: Is It Time For The Giants To Find His Successor?
Justin Tuck has been a leader for the New York Giants defense both on and off the field since he arrived in New York in 2005, and no one is in a rush to see him leave. He's been an integral part of two Super Bowl championship teams, and has been the de facto face of the New York Giants defense (in addition to being the face of Subway's $5 footlongs in his spare time).
Tuck is entering the last year of a five-year deal that he signed in 2008. While it's not clear right now whether Tuck plans to test the waters of free agency or whether he's committed to returning to New York to end his career as a Giant, one thing is clear: the Giants should begin looking for his replacement soon, and there's no better time to do that than the 2013 NFL Draft.
A number of NFL analysts and mock drafts have the Giants targeting several defensive ends for their first round selection: notably Bjoern Werner from Florida State, Ezekiel Ansah from BYU and Datone Jones from UCLA. Facing the possibility that Tuck may join fellow DE Osi Umenyiora and part ways with the team when his contract expires, the Giants should be preparing to groom new talent to replace him at the position. With Jason Pierre-Paul already entrenched at defensive end for the foreseeable future and Mathias Kiwanuka possibly making a return to the line after his stint at linebacker, the Giants are trying to shore up a position that has seen diminished returns over the past two seasons.
While Tuck has produced stellar numbers for the majority of his career with the Giants — including three seasons of double-digit sack totals — he turned 30 years old last month. And even if he does re-sign with the team following the 2013 season, he is entering the back-end of his career. By all indications, Tuck will most likely want to remain a Giant, but it wouldn't hurt for the team to begin searching for a suitable replacement in the event that he doesn't. After all, depth at the defensive end position is never a bad thing; especially for a defense like the Giants that thrives on being able to sustain an aggressive pass rush.
With the draft only a few weeks away now, we'll see what kind of decision GM Jerry Reese and the rest of the Giants' front office makes. It will say a lot about what direction the team is going to go in, and what kind of plans they're making for the future.