“Coach [Ben] McAdoo and the coaches have hit the ground running and they’ve been working hard looking at free agents and obviously starting on the draft,” Reese said. “Our personnel department is working hard as well. Our scouts are here and our pro personnel guys are working hard on free agency back at Quest.”
Here are the main takeaways from the press conference:
1. GIANTS HAVE MONEY TO SPEND
Indianapolis may be the center of the NFL universe this week, but free agency is rapidly approaching with a March 9 start date. Echoing his remarks from the end of the season, Reese said the Giants have a “healthy” salary cap situation this year.
“We have a little bit of money to spend this time, and we’ll try to spend it wisely on the players that make it to the market,” Reese said. “ I’m sure there will be plenty of players that don’t make it; people try to keep their best players. But whoever is out there, we’ll try our best to get some of the best players available.”
2. REESE: YOU CAN GET WELL QUICKLY IN THE NFL, COMPETE FOR NFC EAST CROWN
No sports league turns over year to year quite like the NFL. Coming off a 2015 campaign that will be defined by last minute -- and often last-second -- losses, Reese knows there’s a slim difference between 10-6 and 6-10, which has been the Giants’ final record the last two seasons.
“This is the National Football League; you can get well pretty quickly in the National Football League,” Reese said. “You can get players in free agency, you can get players in the draft, you can get players in trades. Again, we lost a lot of close games. A couple snaps here and there, our season could have went a different way, but it didn’t. We have work to do obviously, but I think we’re close enough to believe that we can compete for the NFC East. I don’t think anybody is running away with it; I think the NFC East is a close division still. I think we can put together a team that can challenge for that NFC East crown next year.”
3. FLOWERS IS STILL THE LEFT TACKLE OF THE FUTURE; NEW O-LINE STARTERS?
Ereck Flowers, who last year was like one of the hundreds of prospects gathered here in Indianapolis for the combine, was thrust into a starting role at one of the most important positions as a rookie. The ninth overall pick out of the University of Miami took over at left tackle for Will Beatty, who tore a pectoral muscle over last offseason. When the Giants released Beatty -- and fellow veteran offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz -- two weeks ago, that most likely meant Flowers would remain at left tackle. Reese eliminated any doubt and confirmed that would be the case.
Meanwhile, the simultaneous release of Schwartz created another opening on the offensive line. Justin Pugh, who has now started at left guard and both tackle positions in his first three seasons, will continue to be Mr. Versatility, Reese said, as the decision of where to start him will be up to McAdoo and Solari. But will the team sign another starter in free agency?
“We may have the starter on the team right now,” Reese said. “We’ll look for a good player in free agency on the offensive line. We’ll look for good players on the offensive line in the draft. Every position, draft and free agency, we’ll look for good players.”
4. JPP IS A ‘MIRACLE’
Jason Pierre-Paul is set to his free agency next month after what has been a life-changing year for the veteran defensive end. After suffering serious hand injuries in a Fourth of July fireworks accident, Pierre-Paul returned to the field and played the final eight games of the season.
“We’re hopeful that this procedure that he had after the season helps him with respect to the hand injury that he has,” Reese said. “I know he’s working hard at it. After you look at that injury, it’s really, for me, people like to throw ‘miracle’ around, I think it’s a miracle that he was able to walk out there and play for eight games for us. It’s really unbelievable after you really see what happened to his hand.”
Another key piece of the Giants’ 2011 Super Bowl title run has also been a subject of questions at the combine. Wide receiver Victor Cruz, who has not played in a game since October of 2014 due to serious knee and calf injuries, underwent another procedure and is in the middle of the rehab process. Speaking yesterday, Giants coach Ben McAdoo said he “absolutely” expects Cruz to be on the team next year. Reese was asked about the wide receiver as well.
“I’m not going to talk about the contract,” Reese said. “Victor is under contract right now. Victor is working hard to get healthy. From everything I understand right now, he’s headed in the right direction and we’ll worry about the contract. But right now, he’s under contract. I’m not really going to talk about the contract situation with Victor right now.”
5. REESE PROUD OF OUTGOING HARRISS; MAYHEW BRINGS A LOT TO TABLE
The coaching staff wasn’t the only side of the building to undergo some changes this offseason. Matt Harriss, who was the Giants’ director of football operations and had served for a decade in the organization, was recently hired by the Lions to be their vice president of football administration.
“Matt Harriss is a guy that cut his teeth with us,” Reese said. “Young kid that came in and really did a tremendous job. We’re happy and proud for him that he’s going over to the Lions; they really have a good employee with Matt. He’ll do a tremendous job for the Lions.”
To fill the vacant position, Reese brought aboard Martin Mayhew, Detroit’s former general manager, to serve as director of football operations/special projects.
“In turn, we were able to hire Martin Mayhew, who is completely qualified to do any job in the front office,” Reese said. “We think he’ll bring a lot to the table for us.”