By Joshua Pickering
The New York Football Giants still have a lot of work to do this offseason.
Let’s face it, signing a player like Shane Vereen in free agency is a step in the right direction, bringing depth to a running game last year that was actually holding the offense's proverbial head above water for the first few weeks of the season. But depth, which is what the Giants have focused on so far this offseason, can only take you so far in the NFL.
Now, I realize in last year’s free agency period, the Giants spent big in filling positions of great need, at least that was the thought at the time. The Giants reinforced the cornerback position by signing Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Walter Thurmond, the latter a member of the Legion of Boom that was coming off a Super Bowl victory. But fast forward to this year and Thurmond is gone along with one of the leaders of Big Blue's defense for the past five years in Antrel Rolle.
Spending big last year got the Giants six wins, so handing out big money contracts in the offseason doesn't automatically mean a team will translate that to victories.
The running game is better now with Vereen part of the backfield. Last year, when Rashad Jennings was lost for most of the season with injury, the ball was placed in the hands of rookie back Andre Williams. While Boston College product can run the ball between the tackles for three to four yards when you need it, he caught just one ball during his final year of college and did not shine in that area as Giants fans would have hoped, as the new offense is built around quick screen and outlet passes.
Vereen is a running back who relishes catching the ball out of the backfield.
The Giants need depth, yes, but they also they need that bully to lead them. In 2007, it was Michael Strahan. In 2011, it was Justin Tuck. Who will step up and lead the team in 2015?
I know what you’re thinking, all the best free agents are gone. You would be right. Well, sort of. The main guys the Giants should target now are former Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfolk, who is aging, but still has some fire left in him to become that instant leader/bully for a Giants defense that ranked 30th last year against the run. THIRTIETH.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Giants have a huge star in the making in wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. He was the one and only bright spot for a team that seldom strung together drives and often forced the incapable defense back onto the field before they even had a chance to pass gas, to quote a personal favorite in Stephen A Smith.
Adding Vereen is solid, but the Giants should go after former Colts running back Trent Richardson as well. Yes, there are a ton of red flags surrounding Richardson, who was completely ineffective and eventually benched in Indianapolis, but he is an elite pass blocker, he catches the ball extremely well out of the backfield and he is the type of back that would thrive in a power running system the Giants have hung their cap on for the past 15 years. He could be the new version of Brandon Jacobs.
If the Giants add Wilfork and Richardson, two players who will come on the cheap by the way, the defense will be massively better, as would the running game on offense. With those two moves, the Giants likely go from a six-win team to one that easily will challenge for a spot in the postseason.