Free Agency Leaves A Hole In The Giants' Defensive Line
The first few days of the NFL free agency free-for-all have been a whirlwind for the New York Giants, in particular. The Giants defense has been in the center of all this activity, with key members of the Giants defense departing as the team scrambles to fill gaping holes in various positions. The defensive line is the unit that has taken perhaps the biggest hit during the early days of free agency, losing Linval Joseph to the Minnesota Vikings and Justin Tuck to the Oakland Raiders. The Giants went into this offseason fully aware of the possibility that they could lose one or both of the aforementioned players, and although it initially appeared as if Tuck would remain a Giant, the team refused to budge on their contract negotiations, and Tuck slipped off to Oakland for a two-year, $11 million deal.
While this news is quite troubling for those who are worried about the end of an era for the once-feared Giants defensive line, the moves have certainly left a big space that needs to be filled by the time the 2014 season rolls around. With half of the starters now gone on the defensive line, Cullen Jenkins and Jason Pierre-Paul are the only starters who remain, opening the door for young talent to step in and fill the roles that have been occupied by veteran leadership for the better part of the last decade. Following in the footsteps of playmakers like Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora and now Tuck and Joseph, guys like Damontre Moore and Markus Kuhn will now have an opportunity to step up and make a name for themselves on the defense.
Moore was impressive in the small amount of on-field time that he was granted last season and certainly has Giants fans excited for what's to come. Moore should have an opportunity to win himself a starting spot on the defensive line in camp, although who he'll be competing with will depend on whether or not the Giants choose to pick up any defensive line help in free agency or through next month's draft.
While there aren't too many top-flight defensive linemen being projected to go in the top 20 of the first round, where the Giants will draft barring any draft day trades, there is a good deal of mid-round talent available if they choose to go that route. GM Jerry Reese has certainly not shied away from drafting defensive linemen in previous drafts, so it's safe to assume that the Giants will select at least one or two players who can fill that position and provide some competition for the two starting spots on the now-vacant left side of the defensive line.
While it was tough to see veterans and defensive stalwarts like Joseph and Tuck depart, the Giants are clearly moving in a new direction and that direction is youth. The team seems to be intent on getting younger, whether through free agency or the draft, and that's always a good sign, especially when it comes to upgrading a defensive unit that has seen better days. Fewell's defense hasn't quite lived up to its reputation over the course of the last few seasons, and despite a slight resurgence in 2013, the vast amount of injuries and easily exploited weaknesses that began to pop up had signaled that it was time for a change.
The front office seems to be looking ahead towards the future when it comes to rebuilding the defense, which is exactly the direction they should be going.