The Giants just moved one step closer to the likelihood that they will not have Plaxico Burress for this season after his move on Tuesday in Manhattan criminal court to postpone his case on gun charges to June 15.
The Giants already know they will not have Amani Toomer, since they told him in February that after 13 seasons with the team he will not be retained.
That means the Giants' starting receiving duo on opening day last season will not be the one that starts on opening day in a little more than five months. It also means, clearly, that the Giants will be addressing the receiver position in the draft and possibly beyond that via a trade.
Unless the Giants move up in the first round of the draft from their current spot at No. 29, they would have little shot of landing esteemed receivers Michael Crabtree (Texas Tech), Jeremy Maclin (Missouri) or Percy Harvin (Florida). Even Brian Robiskie (Ohio State) might be gone among the first 28 picks. One NFL personnel executive told me on Wednesday morning that Robiskie might be "the most sure player" in this draft and that while he "might not be Batman at the position, he is certainly Robin." The same executive said that this draft's depth and quality at receiver is as good as he has seen in 30-plus years of evaluation.
That is good news for the Giants.
They have five of the first 100 picks.
They might opt for Maryland's Darrius Heyward-Bey, or North Carolina's Hakeem Nicks, or Rutgers' Kenny Britt, or Cal-Poly's Ramses Barden. Where the Giants currently sit, they could have their pick of that lot or any number of talented, sleeper picks from this bountiful group in the first round and beyond it.
Toomer will watch it all with a touch of appreciation while also feeling like it is a punch in his gut.
He is the Giants' all-time leading receiver with 668 receptions.
He is 34.
The Giants say he no longer gains meaningful separation from defensive backs, that he is too slow, that it is time to move on. Toomer says the notion that he cannot beat younger defensive backs is jive, that his game has always been about playmaking and not speed, but does agree on one thing -- it is, indeed, time to move on.
But move to where?
Like former Colts receiver Marvin Harrison, former Rams receiver Torry Holt and former Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks, Toomer is that 30-something player who likely can still play this game and play it at a high level, but their teams decided to cut the chord one year early opposed to taking the risk of being one year late. All four of these players are Super Bowl champions. Like Toomer, they now play the waiting game.
"I'm staying in shape, working out, waiting to see what happens," Toomer said. "A few teams have been in touch with my agent. We seem to get close to an opportunity and then something doesn't happen for one reason or another. I honestly don't know what will happen. Nothing down the pipe yet, but we'll figure it out.
"In the beginning, I was upset with the Giants' decision, but not right now. They have a desire to get their own guys in there. Two seasons ago we entered as a team with everyone on the edge. The coaches' jobs and changes were in the air. We did our best and worked hard and won it all. That bought the coaches and the new management more stability. They can go in new directions now as they want. I don't agree with that, but I understand. Ultimately, I told them I think it hurt the team that they did not utilize me in a way to create balance in the offense as last season wore on. I've really never been a person to talk myself up, but I was one of the leaders last year in some of our longest passing gains and some of our most important ones. I'm going to stop right there. I'm definitely proud of all the stuff I did as a Giant and I don't want to tarnish any of it."
Toomer is a wounded warrior and how could he not be after being a fixture there since 1996, playing in two Super Bowls and winning one? He said he will never believe that the Giants were not good enough to win a second straight championship last season. They were 12-4, won NFC home-field advantage and lost in their only playoff action, to the Eagles.
"We beat Philly in the regular season, lost to them in the regular season, and for some reason we overlooked them in the playoffs," Toomer said. "We practiced and prepared well. But we tried to beat them the same way we did the first time. We overemphasized things from the first time. We stayed the same. They adjusted. The rest is what happened. A shame."
Soon after Toomer met with Giants general manager Jerry Reese.
"I felt they rotated me out as the season went on to get more time to develop Domenik Hixon and Steve Smith," Toomer said. "He basically told me that a business decision had been made and I was not a part of the future. I wish I could have left on my own terms, but not a lot of NFL players get to do that. I wish I could have been one of those players."
Now Toomer tests the waters. And waits for another NFL shot. Maybe it comes. Maybe not. Likely it will, said former Giants coach Jim Fassell, now head coach of the Las Vegas franchise of the new UFL.
"The deceiving thing about Amani is he may not look that great in practice, and he never has just run by people, but he can definitely make plays that make the difference in winning football games," Fassel said. "He had a rough start in his career in practicing consistently and doing things in the right places in the offense consistently, but he worked hard to work his way through that. I definitely think he can still play at an NFL level."
If not, Toomer has begun to dabble in sports car racing. He took driving courses recently, running a Porche up to 120 miles per hour at a training course near Birmingham, Ala. He would rather own cars and build a team than drive them, he said.
Imagine that. Toomer, the guy the Giants say has lost too much speed, still finding ways to move faster.
"I want to play, but I also know that I am at the point where I was the benefit of some situations early in my career and now the Giants and likely in this next draft will find a new young receiver to enjoy that benefit," said Toomer, recalling that when he was drafted in '96, the Giants let veteran receiver Mike Sherrard go. "I got the chance to develop and play back then. They move on. I move on."