1. Seattle Seahawks (11-1): It didn't take long for the Seahawks as they proved once again, that home-field advantage could be the deciding factor this year in the playoffs, and luckily for them, it looks like the NFC Playoffs will go through Seattle. The Seahawks had their foot on the gas pedal from kickoff and jumped out to an early lead at the end of the first quarter 17-0. While their offense was impressive, the defense has to be commended for holding future Hall of Famer Drew Brees to just 147 yards through the air, a number that just doesn't look right next to Brees' name as he usually racks up 300+ yards a game. Russell Wilson & Co. didn't look back and routed the Saints by a final score of 34-7. If Peyton Manning wasn't having the year he is, Wilson would have to be considered for MVP. Face the facts, the Seahawks are easily the best in the NFC. Ranking last week: 1

2. Carolina Panthers (9-3): Praying for a Saints loss, the Panthers got their wish, setting up a matchup against New Orleans with first place in the NFC South on the line. Carolina won their eighth straight game against the Buccaneers, and their defense shined, holding Tampa Bay to just two FG's. Cam Newton had another mediocre game, throwing two touchdowns accompanied by two interceptions, but it didn't matter in the end. Maybe his mind was still on Auburn shocking Alabama just a day earlier, who knows. But the Panthers are on a roll, and when teams end the season hot, it can only bode well for them. Will the Panthers defense eat up the Saints like the Seahawks did? My money is on Carolina. Ranking last week: 3

 

3. New Orleans Saints (9-3): The Saints walked into a buzz saw on Monday night. An intense atmosphere with record-breaking crowd noise, a team that looks almost unbeatable at home and defense that just wasn't prepared. New Orleans' defense was picked apart by the Seattle offense and before anyone could even blink, they were down double-digits. Brees couldn't decipher the Seattle defense and looked lost for the first time in a while. More importantly, he couldn't find any receivers down field, and even though he completed 23-of-38 passing, finished the game with just 147 yards with a 20-yard pass to Jimmy Graham being his longest of the night. Right now, the Saints look vulnerable, and a game against the Panthers, is something they really don't need...at least it's at home. Rankings last week: 2

 

4. San Francisco 49ers (8-4): For two weeks straight, Anquan Boldin has been a major part of the Niners offense, and they have rebounded well from two straight losses off of their bye week, with two consecutive wins, this past week against the Rams. San Fran is clutching on to the final wildcard spot in the NFC, even with an 8-4 record due to Seattle putting a hurting on the entire conference. With the running game quiet during the win against the Rams, Colin Kaepernick spread the ball around the field and welcomed the return of Michael Crabtree who debuted in his first game this season since recovering from an Achilles injury.   Ranking last week: 4

 

 5. Detroit Lions (7-5): A stellar performance on Thanksgiving as the Lions were firing on all cylinders against the Packers and scored 40 points for the second time this season. Reggie Bush finished the day with 117 yards on 20 carries, while Calvin Johnson had his third straight game of 100+ yards and caught a touchdown. The Lions took sole possession of first place in the division with the Bears OT loss to the Vikings. Ranking last week: 9

 

6. Philadelphia Eagles (7-5): Nick Foles continues to impress, 19 touchdowns and not one interception, which is pretty amazing when you really think about it. Foles had passes of 20+ yards or more to four different receivers and Zach Ertz raked in two touchdowns. The Eagles held off a late Arizona comeback after jumping out to a 24-7 lead and remain tied atop the NFC East with the boys from Dallas. Ranking last week: 6

 

7. Dallas Cowboys (7-5):  Dallas rallied from being down 21-7 in the second quarter on Thanksgiving to beat the Raiders and remain tied at the top of the NFC East at the end of the weekend. Tony Romo, who was battling sickness, relied heavily on running backs Lance Dunbar and DeMarco Murray, with Murray reaching the endzone three times in the Dallas victory. Ranking last week: 7

 

8. Arizona Cardinals (7-5):  It was asking a lot from the Cardinals to travel across the country to Philly and deal with the cold weather and a hot quarterback after their stunning beat down of the Colts just a week earlier. Carson Palmers threw three touchdowns in the loss to the Eagles, but two costly interceptions doomed Arizona. This team is 2-4 on the road and if they want to earn that final wildcard spot in the NFC, a trip to Seattle in week 16 could be a HUGE game for them. Ranking last week: 5

 

 9. Chicago Bears (6-6): Now you can debate all you want about kicking a FG on third or fourth down, but what was head coach Mark Trestman thinking? Letting Robbie Gould kick a 47-yarder in overtime on second down was WAY too risky, especially with the Bears needing a win to keep pace in the NFC North. I am in the school of thought that you should always try and gain extra yards, even on third down, as we rarely see kicks go wrong where they have to dive on the ball and retry. With Matt Forte in the backfield and Alshon Jeffrey having a record-breaking day with 249 yards on 12 catches, how can you not even attempt to gave even a couple of yards to make the kick easier? Yes, Gould has been golden over the past few years (see what I did there), but you cannot risk it, especially in overtime. Ranking last week: 8

 

  10. New York Giants (5-7):  A breakout game for Justin Tuck as the veteran broke through the Redskins offensive line four times to bring down RGIII. It was good seeing Brandon Myers finally getting some touches with the ball and finding the endzone, but it looks like Hakeem Nicks is done as a Giant. Andre Brown had a tough day on the ground rushing for 35 yards on 14 carries, but it was the defense of the Giants that kept them in the game. After allowing a touchdown on the first drive of the game, Big Blue's defense did a great job of containing Alfred Morris and the Washington offense, and denied the Skins from reaching the endzone in the second half. Ranking last week: 13

 

  11. Green Bay Packers (5-6-1): Tough to criticize an offense that scores just 10 points when your defense allows 40, but Matt Flynn completed just as many passes as his team scored points and the Packers were blown out by the Lions on Thanksgiving. With no scoring in the first half, it looked like it was going to be a defensive battle, but by the fourth quarter the Lions had a double digit lead and Green Bay had nothing to be thankful for. Ranking last week: 10

 

12. St. Louis Rams (5-7): A tough day for the Rams who couldn't get anything going on offense and kept the game close against the Niners until the fourth quarter. Kellen Clemens completed 19-of-37 passing for 218 yards, but didn't have a single receiver over 50 yards on the day. St. Louis is in for a rude awakening when they face another solid defense this week in the Arizona Cardinals. Ranking last week: 11

 

13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-9): Another team that had the odds stacked against them on Sunday as they were dominated by the streaking Panthers. Mike Glennon was sacked five times by the gritty Carolina defensive line and didn't find the endzone all day. Ranking last week: 12

 

 14. Minnesota Vikings (3-8-1): Another big day for Adrian Peterson who rushed for 211 yards on 35 carries, but the focus was on the kicking game between the Vikings and Bears. After missing a 39-yarder due to a penalty, Blair Walsh kicked Minnesota to victory in overtime with a 34-yard shot through the uprights. The Vikings would lose starting quarterback Christian Ponder early in the game, but backup Matt Cassel did a solid job in relief, finishing the day with 243 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Greg Jennings had seven catches on the day, his most all season and reached the endzone for the first time since his week four performance where he scored twice. Ranking last week: 15

 

15. Washington Redskins (3-8): Tough break for the Redskins on their final drive after confusion among the referees denied them a first down, even though they believed they had gotten one. It didn't matter with Pierre Garcon having the ball ripped out of his hands to end the game on the Skins final drive to tie the game against Big Blue. Washington started off hot, scoring on their first possession of the game and then jumped out to 14-0 lead, but by halftime, their defense had given it away. Their offensive line couldn't contain the Giants pass rush, mostly Justin Tuck and RGIII was sacked five times. Ranking last week: 14

 

16. Atlanta Falcons (3-9): Maybe the Falcons should relocate to the Toronto since they looked much better playing in neutral territory against the Bills on Sunday. Matt Ryan finished the day without an interception, which is saying a lot and racked up 311 yards through the air. After two turnovers by Buffalo, the Falcons were able to pull out an overtime win on the leg of Matt Bryant. Is anyone more relieved to see Roddy White finally tally up some yards? White had his biggest performance of the year on 10 catches and 143 yards. Ranking last week: 16

 

Where do you think these teams rank?

Tags: cowboys, giants, New York Giants, nfc power rankings, panthers, saints, seahawks, tom uddo, tuck

 (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.TV

PHOENIX - The Giants may not have made the kind of free-agency splash that they made last season, but they have spent the last few days positively glowing about the addition of Brandon Marshall. To them, the addition of the 6-4 receiver is a big deal.

A really, really big deal.

"There are a lot of advantages to having a bigger receiver on the outside," Giants coach Ben McAdoo said on Tuesday afternoon at the NFL Owners Meetings at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel. "You can throw it up, especially with someone like Brandon with his strength and his catch radius. He almost didn't fit through my doorway when he came into the building. He's a big man. He's like a tight end body out there. He's a big, strong man."

Tags: Brandon Marshall, Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Giants offensive tackle Ereck Flowers (74) during the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. (Jeff Hanisch)
New York Giants offensive tackle Ereck Flowers (74) during the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. (Jeff Hanisch)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.tv

PHOENIX - It's looking more and more every day like the embattled Ereck Flowers will keep his job as the Giants' left tackle. And if he does, it sounds like he's got Ben McAdoo's support.

"I think one of the best games Ereck played all year was the playoff game, the last game of the season," McAdoo said on Tuesday at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel, site of the NFL Owners Meetings. "He's working hard on his technique. I'm pretty confident that he's working pretty hard right now at being a better player, putting a lot of time and energy in to it. You get to see his face a lot. He's in and out of the building a lot. I know he loves the game and I have confidence in Ereck."

McAdoo's endorsement was undoubtedly sincere, after what was a very rough sophomore season for the 22-year-old Flowers. But it also was out of necessity, since it doesn't appear that the Giants have any other viable options beyond their former first-round pick. Giants GM Jerry Reese had indicated after last season that they'd explore the idea of moving Flowers to another position. But so far they haven't brought another left tackle in to compete.

Tags: Ereck Flowers, John Jerry, Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, Ralph Vacchiano
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 (Trevor Ruszkowski)
(Trevor Ruszkowski)

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The NFL's free-agent signing period is open, so bookmark this page and keep checking back for frequent updates on what the Giants are doing with their own free agents and with free agents from other teams, and for updates on their available salary cap space and contract numbers.

GIANTS SALARY CAP SPACE

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New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and head coach Ben McAdoo watch from the sidelines during the second quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and head coach Ben McAdoo watch from the sidelines during the second quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

PHOENIX -- Ben McAdoo's ability to call the offensive plays and be the New York Giants' head coach came under great scrutiny last season as what was once a top-10 offense plummeted to 25th in the league. Even McAdoo's bosses broached the subject of passing off the play-calling duties to his offensive coordinator.

But it doesn't sound like McAdoo is ready or willing to do that -- at least not yet.

Tags: Eli Manning, Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo coaches against the Dallas Cowboys during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo coaches against the Dallas Cowboys during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Ben McAdoo never actually said the words, but his message couldn't have been any clearer. The New York Giants, coming off an 11-5 season, are serious about contending for a Super Bowl title this season, so he needs his players to get serious, too.

That means the days of their off-day trips to party on a boat in Miami are over.

"When we're at work we have to focus on football, and I think we do a very good job of that," McAdoo said during a 45-minute interview at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel, site of the NFL Owners Meetings, on Tuesday afternoon. "When our players are in the building, they say 'yes' to football. Now, when we're not in the building we need to do a better job of saying 'no' to some other things, and making sure everything we're doing is aligned with our goal."

Tags: Odell Beckham Jr., Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith runs with the ball during the first half of their game against the Baltimore Ravens at MetLife Stadium. (Ed Mulholland/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith runs with the ball during the first half of their game against the Baltimore Ravens at MetLife Stadium. (Ed Mulholland/USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

PHOENIX -- The New York Giants are admittedly on the lookout for Eli Manning's eventual successor. Is it possible they already found him when they signed Geno Smith?

It is, according to Giants coach Ben McAdoo, who raved about the former Jets starter during a 45-minute interview at the NFL Owners Meetings at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel. He said it was "very exciting" to add a player as promising as the 26-year-old former second-round pick.

Tags: Eli Manning, Geno Smith, Ralph Vacchiano
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 (AP)
(AP)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.tv

PHOENIX - At the miserable end of the 2015 season, as the Giants were basically firing Tom Coughlin, John Mara wasn't willing to let his general manager completely off the hook. He officially put Jerry Reese on notice when he said "Jerry knows this is on him."

A $200 million spending spree, an 11-5 record, and a return to the playoffs later, it appears that Reese isn't on the Giants' hot seat anymore.

"There was a lot of heat on Jerry," Giants co-owner Steve Tisch said during the NFL Owners Meetings on Monday at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel. "John Mara, my partner, made it very clear to Jerry that 'We're watching you and we have very high expectations, and it's really your time to deliver, Jerry.' So the moves he made last season, clearly in retrospect, were hugely significant and changed the whole defense of the team. 

Tags: Damon Harrison, Janoris Jenkins, Jason Pierre-Paul, Olivier Vernon, Ralph Vacchiano
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 (AP)
(AP)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.tv

PHOENIX - John Mara saw the hole that Odell Beckham punched in the wall at Lambeau Field after the Giants lost to the Packers in the playoffs and he offered to pay to fix it. Packers president Mark Murphy told him it was fine. After all, it only cost $100.

And that was about all the worrying Mara did about that.

Yes, he knows that his star receiver can be as explosive off the field as he is on it. He knows he has difficulty controlling his emotions and he knows that can get him into trouble.

Tags: Odell Beckham Jr., Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning during first half against Detroit Lions at MetLife Stadium. (Noah K. Murray/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning during first half against Detroit Lions at MetLife Stadium. (Noah K. Murray/USA Today Sports Images)

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

PHOENIX -- With Eli Manning undoubtedly nearing the end of his career, the New York Giants have obviously given some thought to finding his replacement. They've even given some thought to drafting his replacement next month.

But as Giants co-owner Steve Tisch said Monday, there is no rush.

Tags: Eli Manning, Ralph Vacchiano
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GEICO SportsNite: NFL Recap 00:03:57
Ralph Vacchiano talks Giants free agency, while Steve Tisch and Brandon Marshall speak with the media and Oakland's move is discussed.

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

PHOENIX -- The Giants threw down the gauntlet in front of Odell Beckham Jr. at the end of last season, telling him, in GM Jerry Reese's words, it was time to "grow up." They were tired of the on-field antics, angry about his ill-timed boat trip, not to mention the hole in the wall in Green Bay.

But none of that has truly soured the Giants on their all-pro receiver.

Tags: Brandon Marshall, Odell Beckham Jr., Ralph Vacchiano
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Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III fumbles the ball as he's hit by New York Giants defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins during the fourth quarter of a game at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)
Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III fumbles the ball as he's hit by New York Giants defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins during the fourth quarter of a game at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

PHOENIX -- The New York Giants have an offer on the table for defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins that has been there since before free agency began. And even though Hankins is obviously holding out for more money, Giants co-owner Steve Tisch indicated the team doesn't plan to pull its offer any time soon.

"No one's panicking right now," Tisch said during a break in the NFL Owners Meetings at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel. "There's time. And again, by nature I'm optimistic, so I think it's going to work out. … Let me rephrase that: I would very much like this to work out."

The optimism surely comes from the obvious: Hankins has not yet signed anywhere else, and the 24-year-old defensive tackle likely isn't going to get a significantly better offer three weeks into the free-agent signing period. An NFL source told SNY that Hankins was looking for at least what the Giants gave Damon Harrison last offseason -- a five-year, $46.25 million contract with $24 million guaranteed.

Tags: Damon Harrison, Johnathan Hankins, Ralph Vacchiano
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Tisch on Marshall signing 00:02:19
New York Giants co-owner Steve Tisch talks about the Brandon Marshall signing and his excitement for next season.

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

PHOENIX -- The New York Giants fell short of reaching Super Bowl LI this past season, but that turned out to be a good thing.

At least for the New England Patriots.

Tags: New England Patriots, Ralph Vacchiano
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 (Ed Mulholland)
(Ed Mulholland)

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

PHOENIX - It may seem strange that Geno Smith signed with a team for which he has little chance of ever playing, but his former Jets teammate Brandon Marshall believes it was "absolutely" the right move for the young quarterback.

"I think it was really good for Geno to sign there," Marshall said outside of the NFL Owners Meetings at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel. "I'm excited to see him continue to grow."

Growth seems to be the main reason the 26-year-old Smith chose to sign with the Giants after his turbulent four years across town with the Jets. When he signed, he spoke about the chance to learn from Eli Manning, who has started every game for the Giants since he first won the job as a rookie way back in 2004...

Tags: Brandon Marshall, Geno Smith, Ralph Vacchiano
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 (Julio Cortez/AP)
(Julio Cortez/AP)

The Giants are interested in former Jets C Nick MangoldDaily News writer and SNY contributor Pat Leonard reports.

Mangold, 33, was released by the Jets on Feb. 25 after spending 11 seasons with them.

He played eight games last season while dealing with an ankle injury.

Mangold, who has been selected to the Pro Bowl seven times, played in 62 of 64 regular season games for the Jets between 2012 and 2015.

Tags: Nick Mangold
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Cam Robinson highlights 00:01:24
SNY.tv takes a look at the highlights of Alabama OT Cam Robinson.

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.tv

Now that the big-money part of NFL free agency is over, teams have begun increasingly focusing on the NFL draft, and their first-round targets are becoming a little clearer. So here's SNY's weekly look at the top players on board for the Giants as they prepare to make the 23rd overall pick of the NFL draft on April 27:

1.OT Garett Bolles, Utah - After dissecting the Giants' free-agent activity, it's hard to see them not focusing on a tackle in the first round (or least somewhere in the first couple of rounds). Yes, they'll say they take the "best available player," but "need" is always a strong factor in their pick and how they organize their draft board. The fact is they have questions at both tackles - Ereck Flowers needs a lot of work on the left side, and no one knows who the right tackle will be (presumably it's D.J. Fluker, but he said he was signed to play guard). Also, Fluker and left guard Justin Pugh (a potential tackle candidate) are unsigned beyond this season. They desperately need a young tackle and Bolles, a 6-5, 297-pounder who will make a pre-draft visit to the Giants, might be the best of an underwhelming group. (Last report: 1)

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Daily News Live: Pat Leonard 00:05:14
Giants beat writer Pat Leonard joins Daily News Live to discuss the Giants' signings of Geno Smith, Shaun Draughn and Jason Pierre-Paul.

Jan 8, 2017; Green Bay, WI, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) drops back to pass against the Green Bay Packers during the first half in the NFC Wild Card playoff football game at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports (Jeff Hanisch)
Jan 8, 2017; Green Bay, WI, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) drops back to pass against the Green Bay Packers during the first half in the NFC Wild Card playoff football game at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports (Jeff Hanisch)

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Giants GM Jerry Reese was at North Carolina's Pro Day on Tuesday, which in itself isn't news - after all, that's what general managers do. Maybe it means something. Maybe it doesn't.

But since the star of UNC's Pro Day was quarterback Mitch Trubisky, it sure did get some people wondering: Are the Giants preparing to draft Eli Manning's replacement in this draft?

It would seem unlikely, especially in a high round, but it can't be completely ruled out since Reese himself said he would consider trying to find his next franchise quarterback this offseason. There are some good reasons not to do it this year, and some good reasons why now might be the time.

Tags: Eli Manning, Ralph Vacchiano
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 (Mike Dinovo)
(Mike Dinovo)

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

It wasn't Adrian Peterson or even LeGarrette Blount, but the Giants have found the veteran running back they've been searching for this offseason.

Shaun Draughn, a 29-year-old journeyman who spent the last season-and-a-half with the San Francisco 49ers, has agreed to terms on a contract with the Giants, the team announced Wednesday. The 5-11, 205-pounder is a power back, who has some skills as a receiver.

He's also joining his ninth team in his seven-year NFL career...

Tags: Paul Perkins, Shane Vereen, Ralph Vacchiano
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 (Jerome Miron)
(Jerome Miron)

University of Tennessee DE Derek Barnett will be the Giants' pick in this year's NFL draft, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. predicted in his third Mock Draft.

The Giants have the 23rd overall pick.

Kiper also had the Giants selecting Barnett in his second mock draft. He had New York selecting Wisconsin T Ryan Ramczyk in his first mock draft...

Tags: Jason Pierre-Paul, Olivier Vernon
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WR Brandon Marshall, who the Giants signed earlier this month, will wear No. 15 this coming season...

Click here to see the photo

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New York Giants linebacker Keenan Robinson (Adam Wesley/Green Bay Press Gazette via USA TODAY Sports)
New York Giants linebacker Keenan Robinson (Adam Wesley/Green Bay Press Gazette via USA TODAY Sports)

The Giants announced their deal with LB Keenan Robinson, which is for one year and is worth up to $4 million, SNY's Ralph Vacchiano confirmed.

Robinson recorded 54 total tackles (83 combined) in his first season with the Giants in 2016.

New York had been trying to re-sign him prior to free agency beginning, though Robinson reportedly visited with the Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills. 

Tags: B.J. Goodson, Devon Kennard, Jonathan Casillas, Keenan Robinson
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 (Matt Kartozian)
(Matt Kartozian)

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Geno Smith signed on to be the backup -- or possibly even the third-stringer -- behind a quarterback who has started every game since Nov. 21, 2004. He likely will never see the field. It's possible he won't even be on the active roster.

Still, the ex-Jets starter said the Giants represented "a perfect scenario for me."

Tags: Geno Smith
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New York Giants linebacker Mark Herzlich reacts after stopping Baltimore Ravens running back Terrance West on fourth and goal from the 1-yard line during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Giants linebacker Mark Herzlich reacts after stopping Baltimore Ravens running back Terrance West on fourth and goal from the 1-yard line during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Mark Herzlich has made a career out of defying the odds and exceeding everyone's expectations. Now it appears he's done it again.

The 29-year-old linebacker will be back for his seventh season with the Giants after signing a new contract with the team on Monday. He was used almost exclusively on special teams last season, though he has proven at times to be a useful fill-in at linebacker, where he's started 17 games in his six years.

In his career, though, Herzlich has become one of the leaders in the Giants locker room -- a respected and steady veteran voice, who is popular among his teammates, coaches and ownership. He's been a team favorite since making the Giants as an undrafted rookie back in 2011.

Tags: Mark Herzlich, Ralph Vacchiano
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 (Jim Brown)
(Jim Brown)

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The Giants added some depth in the secondary and some help on special teams when they signed cornerback Valentino Blake on Monday.

The 5-9, 198-pounder -- formerly known as Antwon Blake before deciding to go by his middle name last year -- has spent time with the Jaguars, Steelers, and Titans during his five-year NFL career. He started 16 games for the Steelers in 2015, picking off two passes -- one of which he returned 70 yards for a touchdown -- forcing one fumble and recording one sack...

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 (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Geno Smith still envisions himself as a starting quarterback, which is one thing the Giants absolutely don't need. In fact, the Giants don't expect to need one until at least the 2020 season, when Smith will turn 30 and will probably be long gone.

That's why Smith's decision to sign with the Giants -- and to a lesser extent, the Giants' decision to sign Smith -- is so strange. For a player looking for a fresh start, hoping to re-establish his value, and desperate to compete for a starting job, the last thing that makes sense is for him to remain in New York to be the second- or maybe third-stringer behind Eli Manning, who hasn't missed a game in his 13-year NFL career.

Yet here we are, with the 26-year-old ex-Jets quarterback now officially a Giant after he passed his physical on Monday and is expected to sign what the NFL Network says is a one-year, $2 million deal. The Giants also signed backup quarterback Josh Johnson on Friday, so as long as Smith's repaired ACL is strong enough, it'll be a heck of a training camp battle between the two to see who gets to hold Manning's hat.

Tags: Eli Manning, Ralph Vacchiano
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 (William Hauser (USA Today))
(William Hauser (USA Today))

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

When the NFL free-agent signing period began, almost everyone assumed that Giants defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins was about to strike it rich. The only question seemed to be how close he'd get to the five-year, $46.25 million contract the Giants gave defensive tackle Damon Harrison last season, or whether he had a shot to exceed it.

A bit over a week after the market opened, though, the 24-year-old Hankins remains unsigned and the market for defensive tackles has collapsed around him. So now, as free-agency begins its second, far-less-lucrative wave, the big, unanswered question about Hankins is this:

What the heck happened?

Tags: Damon Harrison, Johnathan Hankins, Ralph Vacchiano
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On the latest edition of Timeout with Taylor Rooks, former Jets QB Geno Smith sits down with Taylor to discuss his time with the Jets and his decision to join the Giants.

"I think it's just a first class organization. They will have a great shot at winning the Super Bowl in the next 2-3 years."

Click below to listen...

 

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GEICO SportsNite: Giants moves 00:02:28
Jeane Coakley and Ralph Vacchiano discuss Jason Pierre Paul's decision to stay with the Giants and the addition of Geno Smith.

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

It was just over 20 months ago that the first call was made to the Giants' offices with a scary report that lacked many important details. Their star defensive end had been involved in a fireworks accident, and no one could tell them how bad it really was.

In the days that followed, as they struggled to get information, the anger inside their offices grew. By the time the extent of the damage to Jason Pierre-Paul's right hand was clear, his NFL future was in doubt. And if he had one, it sure looked like his bridge back to the Giants had been burned.

Less than two years later, JPP's miracle return is complete. He's not just an NFL player, he's again one of the NFL's premier pass rushers, and a key cog in the Giants' defense. He's also once again a big part of the Giants' future, which they secured on Friday when they signed him to a massive, four-year, $62 million deal...

Tags: Jason Pierre-Paul, Ralph Vacchiano
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 (Ed Mulholland/USA TODAY Sports)
(Ed Mulholland/USA TODAY Sports)

The Giants have agreed with DE Jason Pierre-Paul on a four-year deal, a source confirmed to SNY's Ralph Vacchiano.

The deal has a base of $62 million and can be worth up to $66 million, according to Vacchiano. $40 million is guaranteed.

The Giants placed the nearly $17 million franchise tag on Pierre-Paul earlier this offseason, but did so with the hope that they'd be able to reach a long-term deal before the deadline, Vacchiano reported on March 3.

"We're going to create history," Pierre-Paul said in a statement released by the team. "We made it to the playoffs, but unfortunately I wasn't there to play. But I'm looking to get back to the playoffs this year with that great defensive line that we have, and the great defense that coach Spags (coordinator Steve Spagnuolo) is going to put out there."

Tags: Jason Pierre-Paul
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New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith throws a pass during the pregame warmups for their game against the Baltimore Ravens at MetLife Stadium. (Ed Mulholland/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith throws a pass during the pregame warmups for their game against the Baltimore Ravens at MetLife Stadium. (Ed Mulholland/USA TODAY Sports)

The Giants are expected to sign former Jets QB Geno Smith, a source confirmed to SNY's Ralph Vacchiano.

Smith, who met with the Giants last Saturday, has played in three games over the past two years with the Jets. Since New York drafted him in the second round in 2013, he has played in 33 games, throwing for 5,962 yards, 28 touchdowns and 36 interceptions.

In addition, New York has agreed to a two-year contract with QB Josh Johnsonper his agent Doug Hendrickson.

Tags: Eli Manning, Geno Smith, Ryan Fitzpatrick
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Aug 20, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New York Giants defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins (95) during the game against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports (Kevin Hoffman)
Aug 20, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New York Giants defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins (95) during the game against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports (Kevin Hoffman)

In today's Giants mailbag, SNY's Ralph Vacchiano talks about the club re-signing Jonathan Hankins and if the signing of free agent Rhett Ellison really solved the Giants' tight end issues...

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Any chance the Giants re-sign Hankins -- @gpbloom

My standard answer to this is that as long as he's unsigned, there's always a chance. And that's true, even in this case. But the situation is a bit complicated.

First, nearly everyone I talked to around the league thought Hankins was in for a big-money free agent deal - one that would be close to, but probably not exceed what the Giants gave DT Damon Harrison last March. Suffice to say, a lot of people are stunned that his market never developed and it's looking more and more like he's going to have to play next season on a one-year, "prove-it" deal...

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 (Ron Schwane/AP)
(Ron Schwane/AP)

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Bobby Hart went from a seventh-round pick in the 2015 draft to a mainstay in the Giants' starting lineup the next year. And he gets to cash a big check for that.

The 22-year-old Hart, who started 13 games at right tackle last season for the Giants, led his team in performance-based compensation from the NFL, getting a bonus of $361,072 for his efforts. The bonus was so big, in fact, that it ranked 19th among all performance-based pay recipients in the NFL for 2016.

The annual bonus distribution is a way for the NFL and NFL Players Association to make sure that lower-salaried players are compensated for excellent performances, without counting against a team's salary cap. Hart, in the second year of his rookie deal, earned a $525,000 salary in 2016, so his bonus was worth about 69 percent of that...

Tags: Bobby Hart, Devon Kennard, Will Tye, Ralph Vacchiano
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Oct 16, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (90) reacts to a referee's call during the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Oct 16, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (90) reacts to a referee's call during the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

It's funny (or not), but a week into free agency the questions about the Giants are largely the same ones most people had at the end of the season. A few things have cleared up, but not much has changed.

So let's get right to it. Here's the latest offseason edition of our SNY Giants Twitter Mailbag - the first since free agency began:


Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Are the Giants forced to spend a 1st or 2nd rd pick on OL given we didn't land any of the top FAs -- @D_Ricker81

I don't know if they're forced to do anything, really. I think an offensive lineman in one of those spots would be a good idea, and I think they're likely to do it...

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 (Timothy T. Ludwig/USA Today Sports Images)
(Timothy T. Ludwig/USA Today Sports Images)

The Giants have re-signed OL John Jerry to a three-year deal worth $10 million, SNY's Ralph Vacchiano confirmed.

$4.25 million of the deal is guaranteed, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.

Jerry, 30, started all 16 games for the Giants this past season.

Tags: Ereck Flowers, John Jerry, Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg
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 (Matthew Emmons)
(Matthew Emmons)

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The Giants don't have a ton of salary cap room. In fact, at the moment they really don't have any. So even if they make some cuts or restructure some contracts, they're likely to shop mostly in free agency's bargain bin.

The thing about the bargain bin, though, is that you can sometimes find real bargains -- valuable players that can actually help, for a price that is pretty low. So here are five still-available players the Giants might want to consider -- if, of course, their price is right:

RB LeGarrette Blount (Patriots) - He's 30 years old and his body has taken a beating over the years, so even though he's coming off his first 1,000-yard season since 2010 (1,161 yards), no one thinks he's a No. 1 back anymore. What he is is a 250-pound battering ram and a terrific goal-line back who had 18 touchdowns last season. The Giants, who have been a disaster in goal-line and short-yardage rushing in recent years, sure could use that kind of power in the backfield, and he could be the ideal complement to the smaller, speedier, shiftier, Paul Perkins...

Tags: Johnathan Hankins, Ryan Clady, Ralph Vacchiano
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 (AP)
(AP)

The Giants will pay RB Shane Vereen's $500,000 roster bonus prior to Monday's deadline, ensuring he will be on the roster.

He is due $3.6 million this coming season, with a cap hit of $4.9 million.

The 28-year-old Vereen tore his triceps last September. He returned in December but re-injured his triceps and missed the remainder of the season.

Tags: Shane Vereen
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Oct 9, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; The New York Giants offense huddles during the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Green Bay won 23-16. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports (Jeff Hanisch)
Oct 9, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; The New York Giants offense huddles during the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Green Bay won 23-16. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports (Jeff Hanisch)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.TV: 

The Giants haven't been big spenders in the first few days of the NFL's free-agent frenzy, but they have been players, adding a receiver, a blocking tight end, and a starting offensive lineman. Not surprisingly, all their work has been on the side of the ball that struggled the most.

So what's next? There's still work to do as the Giants try to build themselves into a true Super Bowl contender to take advantage of the final few years of Eli Manning's career. And with that in mind, here's another look at some of the biggest questions facing the Giants as they move into free agency's second wave. Some of them have been hovering over the team all offseason. Some of them are new.

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Jan 1, 2017; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers offensive guard D.J. Fluker (76) blocks Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Jarvis Jenkins (94) as quarterback Philip Rivers (17) receives the ball during the second half of the game at Qualcomm Stadium. The Chiefs won 37-27. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports (Orlando Jorge Ramirez)
Jan 1, 2017; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers offensive guard D.J. Fluker (76) blocks Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Jarvis Jenkins (94) as quarterback Philip Rivers (17) receives the ball during the second half of the game at Qualcomm Stadium. The Chiefs won 37-27. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports (Orlando Jorge Ramirez)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.TV: 

The top priority for the Giants heading into their offseason figured to be fixing their beleaguered offensive line. On Saturday night, on the third day of free agency, they took their first steps in that direction.

The Giants agreed to terms with D.J. Fluker on a one-year contract, an NFL source confirmed. The deal was reportedly to be worth only $3 million, making it a bargain for the Giants, and giving the former 11th overall pick (in the 2013 draft) a chance to re-establish his value and reset his career.

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 (Matt Kartozian)
(Matt Kartozian)

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.TV: 

The Jets still haven't ruled out bringing Geno Smith back to compete for their starting quarterback job next season. But the Giants may be taking a shot at him first.

Smith, the former Jets second-round pick, is making a free agent visit across town to the Giants on Saturday afternoon, an NFL source confirmed. The Giants are in the market for a backup to Eli Manning, with both Josh Johnson and Ryan Nassib currently unrestricted free agents.

A big part of the visit, according to one source, is so the Giants can get a sense for where the 26-year-old Smith is in his recovery from the torn ACL he suffered last October in his lone start last season with the Jets. In a recent interview with NFL Network, Smith said he was on track to be ready for the start of training camp in July, but likely wouldn't be ready for football activities before that.

Tags: Geno Smith, Ralph Vacchiano
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New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo during the first half against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. (James Lang/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo during the first half against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. (James Lang/USA Today Sports Images)

The Giants are short on salary cap space. Now they're short on offensive linemen too.

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 (Orlando Jorge Ramirez)
(Orlando Jorge Ramirez)

Ralph Vacchiano Facebook | Twitter | Archive

With almost no salary cap space left to spend - at least at the moment - the Giants are still trying to upgrade their offensive line. And their first step will be to meet with former first-round pick D.J. Fluker.

The Giants are interested in the 6-5, 339-pound guard/tackle who was released by the Chargers on Tuesday, according to an NFL source, and they are bringing him in for a free agent visit. They are serious about signing him, another source said, assuming the price is right.

Fluker, the 11th overall pick in 2013, would be a big addition for the Giants. Though he never quite lived up to his draft status, he was a solid four-year starter in San Diego. He started all but five games, including 21 at tackle and 28 at guard - exactly the kind of versatility the Giants like to have...

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Oakland Raiders tackle Menelik Watson (71) celebrates as he runs off the field after a 19-16 win over the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. (Jake Roth)
Oakland Raiders tackle Menelik Watson (71) celebrates as he runs off the field after a 19-16 win over the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. (Jake Roth)

The Giants have expressed interest in former Raiders offensive tackle Menelik Watsonaccording to Seth Walder of New York Daily News.

Per Walder, the talks are still in a preliminary stage.

Watson was taken by Oakland in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft. After starting 12 games during his first two seasons, Watson tore his Achilles during the 2015 campaign and missed the entire season. The injury seemed to linger last year as the tackle struggled throughout the whole season.

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Jan 1, 2017; Landover, MD, USA; New York Giants place kicker Robbie Gould (5) kicks a field goal against the Washington Redskins during the second half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Mills)
Jan 1, 2017; Landover, MD, USA; New York Giants place kicker Robbie Gould (5) kicks a field goal against the Washington Redskins during the second half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Mills)

Giants free agent K Robbie Gould will sign a two-year deal with the 49ers, the team confirmed Thursday night.

New York signed Gould last Oct. 20 after Josh Brown was suspended and ultimately released due to domestic abuse allegations.

The 35-year-old connected on all 10 of his field goal tries and was successful on 20-of-23 extra point attempts in 10 regular season games with the Giants. He remained perfect with two more field goals and a successful extra point attempt in New York's 38-13 Wild Card loss to the Packers.

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Giants addressing needs in FA? 00:02:34
The DNL panel discusses what the Giants biggest remaining needs are in free agency as the NFL New Year officially begins.

The Giants have agreed to terms on a four-year deal worth $18 million with TE/FB Rhett Ellisonreports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.

$8 million of the deal will be fully guaranteed.

Ellison, 28, had nine catches for 57 yards and one touchdown last season for the Minnesota Vikings.

Tags: Devon Kennard, Ereck Flowers, Ralph Vacchiano
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 (Andrew Weber)
(Andrew Weber)

RB Orleans Darkwa has agreed to a one-year deal with the Giants, reports Kimberly A. Martin of Newsday.

The Giants didn't initially tender a contract to the 25-year-old Darkwa, who was a restricted free agent. He had been set to become an unrestricted free agent today at 4 p.m. 

There had been some discussions about Darkwa returning at a lesser price, SNY's Ralph Vacchiano reported last week, but a source recently indicated he was planning to test the free agent market first...

Tags: Orleans Darkwa
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 (Christopher Hanewinckel)
(Christopher Hanewinckel)

Free agent TE Anthony Fasano has agreed to re-sign with the Dolphins, reports Jeff Darlington of ESPN.

Paul Schwartz of the NY Post reported Tuesday that the Giants had interest in Fasano.

Fasano, 32, is used mostly as a run-blocker.

He had eight receptions for 83 yards to go along with two touchdowns in 16 games last season for the Titans, in what was the final year of his two-year deal...

Tags: Larry Donnell, Will Tye
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New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) looks on in the second half against the Seattle Seahawks at MetLife Stadium. (William Hauser)
New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) looks on in the second half against the Seattle Seahawks at MetLife Stadium. (William Hauser)

WR Brandon Marshall does not believe the Giants' young receivers would have gone to party in Miami following their Week 17 victory over the Redskins had he been a member of the team at the time.

"You know what? No, it doesn't happen," Marshall said on NFL Network's 'Good Morning Football' Thursday morning. "Well, I can't say that. Everyone is different. But I would have been against that, and partly because of my pains, right? I've been in the league so long and I've never made the playoffs. so for me, I'm a guy … I'm in year 11 (in that scenario), and I'm all-in, because I know this opportunity doesn't come around often. But then you have younger guys."

Marshall followed that comment up with an explanation of how a younger football star might think differently that a veteran in such situations.

Tags: Brandon Marshall, Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard
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LM on star receivers joining up 00:03:26
Jon and Marc analyze what impact the veteran WR Brandon Marshall will have on the young Odell Beckham Jr..

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.TV: 

It may be showtime for the Giants offense now that Brandon Marshall has signed on, but his appearances on Showtime may be over.

Marshall, who had been one of the highest profile Jets the last two years and a weekly panelist on Showtime's "Inside the NFL," said he plans to cut back on his media appearances now that he's signed a two-year, $12 million deal with the Giants. It was unclear if that was his choice or something the Giants asked him to do.

But he certainly sounded like he was done with Showtime show.

Tags: Brandon Marshall, Ralph Vacchiano
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Marshall's impact on Giants 00:03:13
Marc and Jon debate whether adding a star wideout in Brandon Marshall makes the Giants immediate Super Bowl contenders

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY.TV:

After 11 seasons in the NFL with not a single taste of the playoffs and a string of mediocre (or worse) quarterbacks throwing him passes, Brandon Marshall had enough. That's why he insisted his trip to free agency wasn't going to be driven by money.

And he said he proved that by signing with the Giants when he had a chance to go elsewhere and make more.

"They definitely didn't offer me the most money," Marshall said on a conference call with the media on Wednesday. "It was probably the least money. It was all about championships, to get straight to the point. It was all about a championship. They presented the best opportunity to be in a championship organization."

Tags: Brandon Marshall, Ralph Vacchiano
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