New York Giants
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Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, as expected, will return for the 2017 season.
Spagnuolo, who took the job on a two-year deal before the 2015 season, re-signed with the Giants, a source told ESPN on Wednesday. His two-year contract ran out after the Super Bowl.
Spagnuolo returned to the Giants for a second time prior to the 2015 season after a short stint with the Baltimore Ravens.
The 11-5 Giants had the league's 10th-ranked overall defense this past season after finishing last in yards allowed in 2015. New York's defense gave up the second-fewest points (17.8 per game) in the NFL in 2016. The Super Bowl champion New England Patriots allowed the fewest points (15.6 per game).
Spagnuolo, 57, served as the Giants' defensive coordinator from 2007-08 and returned to the team under head coach Tom Coughlin in 2015.
Spagnuolo was retained by new head coach Ben McAdoo last offseason.
Spagnuolo's first tenure with the Giants in 2007-08 produced a Super Bowl win over the previously undefeated Patriots.
In between his stints in New York, Spagnuolo spent three seasons as the head coach of the then-St. Louis Rams, one year as the New Orleans Saints' defensive coordinator and two seasons as a Ravens assistant.
McAdoo said he didn't expect any changes to his coaching staff after the Giants' 38-13 playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers in the wild-card round.
"No, it's way too early for that, but I don't anticipate anything," McAdoo said then. "Never say never."
Giants general manager Jerry Reese is normally very guarded about what he reveals to the media.
However, he was refreshingly candid on several topics, one of which is of vital importance to the franchise's future: the quarterback position.
To recap, Eli Manning, the durable iron man who has not missed a start in either the regular and the postseason since 2004 when he first entered the starting lineup, just turned 36 years old.
While Manning would like to play several more years, Reese is not oblivious to the fact that time doesn't exactly favor the Giants in this instance.
"Thirty-six; I don't think that is ancient for a quarterback," Reese said. "I think he is probably on the back nine, but I don't think that is ancient for a quarterback, and he is taking care of himself really well, and I thought he finished the season strong."
This season, some will argue that Manning didn't play well despite being victimized by shoddy protection, no running game and a receiving corps that either couldn't get open or couldn't hang onto the ball.
However, Manning has to take a share of the blame for the offense's shortcomings given some of the decisions he made that ended up as interceptions, or the missed opportunities to connect with receivers when they did get open.
"I don't worry about that," Manning said when asked how he'd grade himself. "(We) did some good stuff. It was tough offensively the way teams were playing to run our offense as efficient as we wanted to. Kind of hung in there and did some good things. You win 11 games, you're doing something right, but we didn't score enough points offensively. We'll have to look back and see how we can improve."
Manning and head coach Ben McAdoo also poo-pooed any notion that the quarterback was starting to show signs of aging.
"I thought my arm strength is good. I still can make the deep throws and make all the throws," Manning said.
"Eli, to me, was moving better in the pocket than he has since I got here," McAdoo added. "He threw with tremendous zip all season."
Still, the fact remains that Father Time doesn't exactly favor the Giants when it comes to their quarterback. With Ryan Nassib and Josh Johnson, the other two quarterbacks on the Giants' roster, set to become unrestricted free agents, Reese is fully aware that the time may have come to stop fiddling around with these fly-by-night projects and start thinking about finding and grooming Manning's successor.
"Eli is 36, and we have started to think about who is the next quarterback, and who is in line," Reese said. "So we will look into that as we move into the offseason."
Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul has two goals on his mind when the 2017 season starts.
The first is to be 100 percent healthy from his core muscle surgery he had three days after the Giants' Week 13 loss to the Steelers last month.
The second is to be signed to a long-term contract somewhere, be it with the Giants or whoever comes in with a competitive offer for the 28-year-old defender.
Pierre-Paul, who played the 2016 season on a one-year, $10 million contract that was largely regarded as a "prove it" deal after his 2015 season was derailed by a fireworks accident that permanently damaged his right hand, said he has no intentions of signing another one-year deal nor giving a hometown discount to the only pro team he's ever played for.
"I've proved it. I've showed it," Pierre-Paul said as the Giants cleaned out their lockers Monday. "There's not really a guy like me out here doing it with 7.5 fingers.
"I know what I bring to the table," Pierre-Paul said. "You've got to know your worth, and I know my worth."
Pierre-Paul produced seven sacks, second behind team leader Olivier Vernon. He also produced three forced fumbles and a fumble-recovery touchdown and won a NFC Defensive Player of the Week award for his play in a Week 12 win over Cleveland.
While Pierre-Paul said he'd like to return to the Giants to play opposite of Vernon, finances are going to dictate where he ends up going.
"If I hit the market, I hit the market," Pierre-Paul said. "I just really set myself up. I played great this year. If it's here, I would love to be here. To be in a different jersey, it would feel awkward, but it is what it is."
General manager Jerry Reese, who also must decide on defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, who is also set to be an unrestricted free agent, said he had no problem with Pierre-Paul's declaration of not wanting to sign another one-year contract.
"Well, players should say that," he said.
Do the Giants want Pierre-Paul back?
"Of course we want him back," Reese said. "He is a good football player. We are in the genesis of the offseason evaluation and we keep all of our options open, and we will try to do what is best for everybody involved in the situation."
As recently as last offseason, the Giants were convinced that in Ereck Flowers, they had their starting left tackle for the next decade.
But after two subpar years in which the 2015 No. 9 overall pick's progression has been slower than a melting ice glacier, the Giants have apparently begun to rethink whether Flowers can be their left tackle of the future.
"I saw a guy who's learning to trust his technique," said head coach Ben McAdoo of Flowers. "With young players, the way they come into the league now, you have to take a leap of faith with their technique as far as the bending, keeping your elbows tight and striking with your hands and pass protection. Finishing the way you're capable of finishing, those are the things that need to improve."
Does that mean McAdoo was content in the progress Flowers made?
"I'm not content in the way we played offensive football, no," he said.
Flowers, who this year had his second offensive line coach in as many seasons as a pro, has also had issues with penalties, nabbing the dishonor of leading the Giants in penalties in each of the last two seasons (13 this year, 10 in 2015), mistakes that have cost the Giants offense 165 yards and created 14 stalled drives.
Between his play and an off-field incident this year in which he shoved a reporter following the Giants Week 5 loss at Green Bay, a game in which Flowers struggled badly, there are some serious questions about whether Flowers has the intangibles to reach the potential the Giants think he has.
"Ereck has played basically every snap since he has been here. He is an early-out junior, still a young player, but it is time for him to show us the fruits of being a first-round draft pick, and I still think he has a chance to do that," general manager Jerry Reese said.
The question moving forward is at what position will Flowers get that opportunity?
Reese, who gushed over the thought of having found the franchise's left tackle when the Giants drafted him, wasn't so sure this time around.
"We will evaluate that. Is he the left tackle? Should he be in a different position? We will evaluate that," he said. "But I do think that he is a big, strong kid who has a chance to be a really good player."
If they do end up deciding left tackle is Flowers' best position, they're likely going to add some competition to push the soon-to-be third-year pro.
"Competition is always good," McAdoo said.