Kiwanuka / Osi
I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so. (Actually that's a lie - I love to say I told you so.) Giants made the extremely logical business decision regarding their pair of DEs whose contract is up at the end of 2012. They extended Kiwanuka's contract so that he will be locked up through the 2015 season and so far have done nothing on Osi. As I said in my last post and in fact have been saying for months, Giants could not afford to keep both Osi and Kiwanuka beyond this year. Even if they could afford it in terms of raw salary cap numbers, it would not be sensible to tie up so much cap money in one position. The reason I paired them together in this business decision as opposed to any other two players on the team is that they both play in the front seven and both have contracts that were to expire at the end of the 2012 season. Giants have JPP emerging as a star, still have Tuck to start opposite him, both of whom are more complete players than Osi. That means that Osi would be coming off the bench, essentially the designated pass rusher. He is perfect for that role since that is his strength, and his presence would improve the team, but you can't make business decisions nowadays just on that basis. You don't want to pay him stud starter money when he plays 25 or 30 snaps per game. Kiwanuka is an excellent pass rusher and a more complete and versatile player than Osi. With the growth of the LB corps, there would be fewer snaps and less playing time to give him and he is one of the best pure athletes on the team. It would be nice to keep Osi under contract, play him during his walk year when he will be highly motivated to produce and then let him go as FA after the season. He could have been used as trade bait during last week's draft, either to move up to a higher position or get an extra draft choice, but that didn't work out. Now, with Osi under contract for only one more year, his trade value is not very high. A team that acquires him is only getting one year's worth of play from him and would likely give less than the 2nd round pick Giants might have garnered last year. Giants should keep Osi and play him unless he makes such a fuss that they can't keep him. Then trade him for whatever they can get and wish him well.
Every team is excited about their draft choices now - they are ready to measure them for busts in Canton. It's a little different when they put on pads and get into camp, then you might see what they can really do. All I can say is that I have implicit trust in GM Reese and his college talent evaluator Ross, and they seemed positively giddy about the draft picks. First, I completely believe him when he says that David Wilson was the 2nd running back on their board and the one they targeted once Trent Richardson was off, taken 3rd by the Browns. Bucs traded up to take Doug Martin, but Giants wanted Wilson. The reason I believe them is that it is consistent with the direction they have taken the whole team - putting more of an emphasis on speed and less on size. I am not sure of the Giants would draft Brandon Jacobs if he was coming out of college this year. The league has changed. Giants looked at what a shifty receiver like Cruz can do when he makes someone miss and they want that same explosiveness out of the backfield. I am sure they view Wilson as another Darren Sproles and see how productive he was with Saints last year. With a good group of WRs that are downfield threats, opposing defensive backfields will be giving space covering the WRs and an underneath threat from RB could be very productive in the passing game. Maybe the Giants will actually learn how to run a screen play this year.
Second observation related to this idea that speed is king in the new NFL is that it is consistent with the idea of moving Kiwanuka away from LB. He is not the fastest LB in the league and it is best to replace him with the largely speed-oriented players that the Giants have at the position. Kiwanuka did a great job at LB considering he is a natural DE. But he is not a 3-down LB and is one of the players that would come out of the game in nickel alignments. He will have his hand in the dirt much more often this year, even if he comes into camp officially listed as LB.