Open: We're pleased so far with what we've done in free agency. We had an opportunity to secure some really good football players, and we have a long way to go to finish what we need to get done and get us ready for the season coming up. But we're happy right now with where we are.
Are the signings of the two defensive linemen indicative of any concern about the health of Fred Robbins and Barry Cofield?
We expect those guys to make full recoveries, but you always want to protect yourself in that respect. The number one reason is that we thought we wore down the latter part of last season with our front. We didn't get the pass rush that we've grown accustomed to having. Our two inside guys were banged up. Tuck was banged up some, and Kiwi was playing a lot of snaps, so we will have more manpower with the acquisitions we've made with Canty and Rocky up front. One thing I learned from Ernie Accorsi is you've got to have some big guys up front who will get after the quarterback. Right now we have seven guys who we think can be starters for anybody.
With the additions on the defensive line, does Kiwanuka stay at defensive end as you said last week?
Kiwi will still be a defensive end, yes.
Do you anticipate having those seven guys you feel can start for any team? You don't feel you need to make a move there?
You never say 'never' in personnel, but we want our front to be strong and I anticipate all those guys being ready to go for us when we kick it off in the fall.
You said you still have a long way to go. Is that in the draft or in free agency?
Both. We'll still look around in free agency and see if something makes sense for us. The draft is coming up soon, and we'll try to supplement with the draft, as well, and try to fill some holes and just try to draft good players and try to develop some young people to come into our program and stay strong all around.
Have you intentionally brought in defensive linemen who are interchangeable by postion?
We like that. We like guys who are versatile at every position, not only our defensive line. We like guys who are versatile at every position. Nowadays, the more you can do, the more valuable you are. The guys we have up front are very versatile. Tuck is very versatile. Kiwanuka is versatile. Canty is versatile. Those guys can play all over the place. We're happy to be able to have a bunch of versatile people in our defensive front and all over our team. We look for that.
When you have that many good players, playing time can sometimes be an issue. Is there any worry about making sure all of them get in enough?
With our rotation, these guys will play more football than they want to play. That's a good problem to have when guys are crying about playing time. That is not an issue for me. That's a good thing, as far as I'm concerned, that we have enough guys that there is crying about playing time. That's a great thing. But I don't anticipate our guys bellyaching about playing time. With a 16-game season and into the playoffs, there is a lot of football to be played for everybody involved.
Re: Derrick Ward signing with Tampa Bay
I'm happy for Derrick. They have a really good football player. I am very happy for him. Obviously you hate losing good football players like Derrick Ward, but we're very happy for him. That was a good move by Tampa Bay.
There was a report that the Giants turned down a proposal from Ward that was slightly less than what he signed for in Tampa. Any truth to that?
His agent let us know what was on the table with them. There was no bartering involved. That's really all I can say about that. They kept us abreast of what was going on with them, but we never discussed whether we would match an offer or not. We just wanted them to keep us abreast of what was going on. They did that. He signed with Tampa. We're happy for him, and we're always going to pull for Derrick.
Was Chris Canty always in your sights, or was it an opportunity that just dropped in your lap?
We had several guys targeted and he was one of the guys we had targeted. We weren't sure what we could do. You never know what you can do until you get into the negotiation process. We secured Boley and then we secured Rocky Bernard. We knew (Canty) would come in and be the first visit here with us. We knew he had more suitors involved, but we got him here and did a good job with our recruiting process here, and I think he liked it here and wanted to be here and it worked out for us.
How serious were you about Albert Haynesworth?
We were serious about Albert. I think everybody was serious about Albert Haynesworth. Everybody would want a big monster like that in the middle. I've seen reports that we offered $80 million. That's not true. We did make a good offer. We wanted to put our toe in the water. It would be awful for us not to even put our toe in the water and the guy goes to his press conference in Washington and says, 'I really wanted to be a Giant, but they never offered me anything.' We always do our due diligence in that respect. We made a nice offer, but obviously it wasn't in that ballpark.
The last couple years you have not been real active early in free agency. Was this your intention all along, to be this aggressive this early in free agency?
No. You do what you can do each year. The first year I was general manager, we had deemed the free agent class to be (not) that great where you could throw out a lot of money like that. We didn't want to just go out and throw out a lot of money and try to make a splash because I was a new GM. That was the wrong thing to do. My responsibility is to try to make the team its best and be as fiscally as responsible as I can moving forward. The first couple of years we got the mid-level and bottom guys who really did a good job for us. This time we were in better shape with more quality free agents to step out there and try to secure some quality guys.
Will there be an opportunity to improve yourself offensively in the rest of free agency, or will that be something you do in the draft?
We're always looking around. We never stop looking for ways to improve our football team. We'll continue to look around in free agency to see what's available offensively, defensively, special teams-wise. All the way around, we're always looking around. Obviously the draft is coming up in April, so there are good players in the draft. We'll try to address all those things with the rest of free agency and the draft.
Do you have anything you can offer on Amani Toomer?
Amani is a free agent, and I can say this about Amani Toomer: I would not bet against Amani Toomer. In any respect, I would not bet against him. I can say that.
Would you bet against the Giants making an offer for him to come back?
You never say 'never.' You never say 'never.'
What is it about Chris Canty that makes him a prototypical 3-4 player, and what about him makes you think he will be a good 4-3 tackle?
Well, he can play tackle or end in a 4-3. He is versatile in that way. The guy is 6-7. He's 310 pounds. I don't know why he wouldn't be able to play a three technique. He is a very good athlete. He's strong. Ask our guys who have played against him twice a year how good this guy is up front. Ask Rich Seubert because Richie has played against him more than anybody else. Ask those guys how good this big man is, and they'll tell you we got a good football player.
How much did you ask Richie Seubert that before you made this deal?
We didn't ask him. Richie was not involved in the evaluation process.
Well, now that he doesn't have to play against him twice a year…
It makes us stronger and makes Dallas a little bit weaker, so we're happy in that respect.
Do you know whether Canty is going to play tackle or end right now?
He is going to play all over the front. You know how we do it with our guys. We play them all over the front. I can see Bill Sheridan using these guys in a variety of different ways. But he is versatile. He'll play end, he'll play tackle, he might even play some over the nose. He has that skill set to play anywhere in the front.
By sticking your toe in the water on Haynesworth, do you think you may have made your division rival pay more than it wanted, and is that such a bad thing for you?
I wasn't worried about what they were offering him. I knew what we could offer, and we wanted to try to get in the game. We tried. It didn't work out for us. We're very happy with the three guys we did sign. Good for Washington. They got a really good football player.
What is your feeling about your receivers? Do you feel you have enough, or there might be some opportunities remaining in free agency or in the draft?
We're always looking to get better at every position, and receiver is one of them as well. We have guys we like, guys who we expect to step up and play bigger roles, but we'll continue to try to upgrade that position as well.
Do you feel you have a top guy at receiver or a bunch of complementary guys?
We have good players at that position. Who knows who is going to step out of the shadows and be the guy. Again, we'll try to continue to upgrade that spot, but we have good players at that position right now. We can go into the fall with these guys, but we are definitely going to try to continue to upgrade that position.
Bernard and Boley have relatively recent domestic violence issues in there past. Was that a concern and are you satisfied with the character in both of those guys?
That is always a concern for us. We always look at character. There were a couple of isolated issues that have been pretty much resolved. We did our homework on them with all of our contacts in different places. We're pretty pleased with the answers we got. We've got three good people coming in, and again, these issues have been resolved, and we're not afraid of what we've brought to the table with these three individuals. They all had very good character grades coming out, and I think these are isolated issues that happened. It's unfortunate that when you are in pro sports, everything gets over-exaggerated a little bit. We don't condone any kind of domestic violence in any kind of way. Don't get me wrong on that. Michael Boley does all kinds of community service, and you people never talk about that. It's really kind of a shame that people don't say, wow, this guy is a really good guy, he does all this community service. But the negative thing always seems to come up. It's unfortunate, but when you are in a high profile position, I guess this is what happens.
You have nine draft picks and you may get a supplemental pick or two. Is there enough room on your roster for nine or 10 rookies to make it, or might you consolidate those picks?
We'll try to do what's best for the New York Giants. There are a lot of things that can happen before the draft, so who knows? We may not have that many picks by the time the draft rolls around. We'll do what's best for the Giants. If you have 10 or 11 (rookies) make your team, you are maybe not that strong if all those guys make your team. We'll see what happens moving forward. Maybe we won't have that many picks. But if we have that many picks, we'll try to pick them as best we can, and we'll see. There will be a lot of competition. That's what we like. We like to create a lot of competition at every position, and if we have 10 or 11 draft picks get into the fray, so be it.
How involved were you in Houshmandzadeh prior to him signing in Seattle?
Again, we look at everybody, but he was really not on the radar in a big way for us, but we evaluated him as well.
No offer was made?
No offer was made.
Has Danny Ware signed yet?
Yeah, he is on our roster.
Any concern about salary issues between players who have been with you and extended early versus the players and salaries you just aquired?
Not really. Guys are always going to bellyache a little bit about salaries because that is the nature of this business. That's part of what we do, and I am really not worried about that.
You have addressed the defensive side. Any concerns about scoring points and scoring in the red zone?
We always want to score points. You have to do what you can do with free agency. If there is no way to address that right away in free agency, you do what you can in free agency. You don't just go out and try to make something that's not there. You have to deal with what's available and what your needs are. Right now we have good players offensively. We have a strong offensive line. We have a very good quarterback. We have some young receivers we expect to step up. We have good tight ends, and we have three good running backs we like, so we expect to get more production in the red area, and our coaching staff is cognizant of that, and we need to be more productive in the red area, and I think they are working on that right now.
Is Plaxico Burress' situation still in limbo?
Sure, it's still in limbo because the legal process has not taken place, so we'll see what happens moving forward with that. Right now he is still a Giant, and if things work out and he's on board with what we want coming back, we'd love to have him back.
Will he show up for the beginning of the offseason training program?
I'm not sure what will happen. Like I said, there are some legal issues right now, and I think that is the most pressing issue for him. I think he wants to try to get all those things resolved. We'll see what happens as far as offseason stuff goes.
Would you characterize this draft as being particularly good at any one position or two positions?
No. I wouldn't. There are always good players in the draft. You guys know I always say that. We've just got to see what's best for us at 29. If we have an opportunity to move up, we might do that. If we have an opportunity to move back, we might do that. But there are always good players in the draft.