Skip to main content

Who may be in, out, for Giants' 'voluntary' workouts

New York's world-champion Giants open their voluntary -– emphasis on "voluntary" –- offseason conditioning program Monday.

But the Giants' attendance is going to draw the type of attention that wide receivers Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh got last week.

For now, the easiest way to preview who attends and who doesn't is to borrow the key categories that are used on the NFL's weekly injury reports.


» Wide receiver Plaxico Burress –- As usual, Burress skipping offseason conditioning drills is as much a part of spring as the NFL Draft. Only this year, there could be a different motive.

Around the league, wide receiver salaries exploded. Randy Moss landed a three-year, $27 million deal in New England; Javon Walker a six-year, $55 million deal in Oakland; Larry Fitzgerald a four-year, $40 million deal in Arizona.

Burress still is playing under the six-year, $25 million contract he signed in March 2005. He has not said he wants a new deal; but it's not difficult to figure out that it is only natural he will.

» Defensive end Osi Umenyiora –- Ever since the Pro Bowl -- or really since the Giants gave a five-year, $30 million deal to defensive tackle Justin Tuck -- there have been whispers that Umenyiora could be looking for a new deal.

He never has publicly said he is, his attendance next week will provide a hint.

If Umenyiora is there, it will be a sign that he is all right with his contract. If not, it will be the first indication that Umenyiora is hoping to cash in.

Strahan's career in a nutshell

» 15 seasons; 7 Pro Bowl selections (1998-2000, 2002-04, 2006); 6 All Pro selections (1997, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005)

» 2001 NFL Defensive Player of the Year

» Super Bowl Champion (XLII)

» Originally a second round (40th overall) draft pick by the Giants in 1993

» Has 141.5 career sacks, placing him fifth on the NFL's career list

» Set NFL season record with 22.5 sacks in 2001

» Finished the 2007 season with 57 tackles (46 solo), 19 QB hits, two passes defensed, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and 9.0 sacks for 65 yards

» Had 3 tackles, 1 sack and 2 QB hits in Super Bowl XLII

» Defensive end Michael Strahan –- For now, the Giants are unsure whether Strahan will even play next season. But Giants co-owner John Mara said his team would "not rule out" sweetening Strahan's contract, which in all probability would increase the chances that their all-time sack leader would return.

But Strahan didn't go to training camp last year; making it even more doubtful he'll be in attendance next week.

» Tight end Jeremy Shockey –- Like Burress, Shockey is a regular offseason conditioning drills absentee. If he were to attend, it would be an upset.

But the question regarding Shockey is not whether he will be in New York next week, but whether he will be a Giant next season.

The Giants insist they are not shopping Shockey. It also is reasonable to expect the Saints to make a push to trade for him -– New Orleans head coach and former New York assistant Sean Payton loved working with the tight end.

But the Giants are in no rush to trade Shockey. They believe his attitude, and comportment, were much improved last season. He didn't demand the ball, didn't wave his arms, didn't complain. He was, for Shockey, a model citizen.

Unless they receive an offer they can't refuse, Shockey is expected to open next season as New York's starting tight end.


» Linebacker Antonio Pierce -– One of the team's unquestioned leaders, Pierce still is playing on a contract he signed in March 2005. At 29, it figures he would like at least one more payday.

And there are certain players -– and Pierce could be one –- that the Giants believe deserve and require new contracts. The coming weeks, and months, will provide the evidence of where players stand in the Giants' pecking order.

» Guard Chris Snee –- Interesting case here, regarding Snee. The Giants awarded their head coach, Tom Coughlin, with a new extension at a time he had one year left on his contract. Now Snee, Coughlin's son-in-law, is in the same position.

Snee has one year remaining on his contract at a time when salaries for guards are exploding. Earlier this month, guard Alan Faneca signed a five-year, $40 million contract that included $21 million in guaranteed money.

Snee is one of the top young guards in the game. Whether he makes his money now or in the future, Coughlin's daughter will be well provided for.

They might seem like Giant issues now, figuring out a way to make so many players who feel they are worthy of more money happy. But they are issues that 31 other teams would love to have.

Business as usual

The annual owners meetings -- which start Sunday in Palm Beach, Fla. -- are the bridge from free agency to the draft.

Once the meetings end, the full-bore draft preparation, and speculation, begins.

But before then, first there is business to tend to. And the business, as usual, involves cleaning up and improving the game.

For starters, the league will vote on reseeding its playoff teams to reward wild-card teams that have better records than division winners.

Under the new plan, the two division winners with the two best records would get the top two seeds. But the remaining teams would be seeded based on records, which means a wild-card team could wind up hosting a playoff game versus a division winner.

Whereas wild-card teams had to be seeded fifth or sixth in other years, they now will have the chance to earn the No. 3 or No. 4 seeds. It is a proposal that will be voted upon next week.

Another proposal to be voted on is allowing a designated defensive player to wear a radio earpiece to communicate with his coaches the way quarterbacks can do.

The proposal has been rejected twice in the past, last year by a mere two votes. But now, with the Patriots being found guilty of stealing signals, there is a feeling amongst the competition committee that its time has come.

The time also has come to rework the league's anti-tampering policies, though the competition committee insists this has nothing to do with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell finding the 49ers guilty of tampering with Bears linebacker Lance Briggs.

The competition committee is debating the merits of a plan that would create a five- to seven-day dead period before free agency in which teams would talk to the agents of players, but not the free agents themselves.

During that time, teams could reach contract agreements with free agents, but not sign them until free agency begins. It is a plan that could be voted on in May.

Another topic that will be addressed, but not voted on, is the collective bargaining agreement. NFL owners are expected to opt out of the current agreement in November.

And for all the issues to be raised next week, this will be the single most important topic that owners discuss.

**Gil Brandt** has his sources at each of these workouts and is updating his pro day scouting report on a daily basis. 
** More ...**

Pro days

Now that Arkansas and LSU have staged their pro days this week, the number of significant ones remaining is dwindling.

The next big one comes Tuesday, April 1, when North Carolina defensive tackle Kentwan Balmar will work out for NFL scouts and coaches.

The next day, Wednesday, April 2, will be a biggie: USC will be hosting its pro day, with the NFL anxious to get a look at prospects such as defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis, linebacker Keith Rivers and quarterback John David Booty. NFL Network will televise at least a portion of USC's pro day.

And Oklahoma will have its pro day on Wednesday, April 9, which will be a chance for wide receiver Malcolm Kelly to run himself into the No. 1 ranking at his position.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.