More times than not, the guy is already on your roster.
That's the credo general manager Jerry Reese follows, and with the recent departure of Mario Manningham, he will apply that same formula to shoring up the third wide receiver slot.
Manningham, one of the heroes in Super Bowl XLVI, was officially announced as the newest member of the San Francisco 49ers, signing a two-year deal with the team that he helped beat in the NFC Championship. He left behind 160 catches for 2,315 and 18 touchdowns in four seasons with the Giants, in addition to scores in each of the first three playoff rounds leading up to Indianapolis.
Similar to last year, when Steve Smith left the void, the Giants again have a vacancy.
Victor Cruz did more than fill that in 2011, and while that same production will be tough to replicate, Big Blue has some potential suitors already on the roster.
"When you look at personnel and look into the future you always want to look on your roster first, in our opinion," Reese said in the wake of winning the Super Bowl. "Look at your roster first – is the guy that you need already on your roster – before you go out and look for someone somewhere else."
That's exactly what you'll see below.
JERREL JERNIGANJust like Manningham, Jernigan is a former third round draft choice by the Giants and played sparingly his rookie season as a receiver. Manningham caught four passes in seven games in 2008; Jernigan caught none in eight games in 2011.
"I'm excited for the opportunity," Jernigan recently told Newsday. "Me and Mario were good friends when he was here, he taught me a lot of things, but it's pretty much a business now and I'm thankful for the opportunity to go out there and show everybody what I can do. I'm thankful that Coach [Tom] Coughlin and Jerry Reese are giving me an opportunity to step up to the plate and be the next man."
With a true offseason to prepare, Jernigan wants to be that guy in his second NFL season. He certainly showed that capability during his tenure at Troy, where he had 262 catches in four seasons. He eclipsed 1,000 yards as a junior while tallying more than 70 catches and 800 yards in each of his final three seasons.
"That's how I'm going into OTAs and the whole offseason approach, like I'm the number 3 receiver," Jernigan said. "But we have other guys coming back. We have Domenik Hixon coming back and we also have Ramses Barden there. Coach will do the evaluation in the offseason and during camp and stuff so we'll see. But I'm approaching it like I'm the third receiver."
DOMENIK HIXONHixon made the first splash of the offseason when he re-signed with the Giants after two knee surgeries in two seasons.
By keeping him, the organization believes he will contribute the same versatility that he is known for. His career totals include 59 receptions for 788 yards and three touchdowns and three rushing attempts for 18 yards. Hixon has returned 48 punts for 530 yards (11.0-yard avg.) and a touchdown and 80 kickoffs for 1,966 yards (24.6-yard avg.) and a touchdown. He also has 25 career special teams tackles.
"I personally feel like I'm further along (than he was at the same stage after his first surgery) with the strength and the coordination, different things like that that," he said after he signed his contract. "Is it because I know what's coming and I'm prepared for it? But I feel real good. And that's what's kind of scary about it. It wasn't a point this time where I had a ton of pain or a ton of swelling.
"We're just fine-tuning things now. My goal when I get back is to be at full speed and show the training staff and everybody else I'm physically ready to play and ready for it for years to come."
RAMSES BARDENAnother third round draft choice, the 6-foot-6, 227-pound Barden is still shooting for that breakout performance.
In three seasons, Barden has 15 catches for 174 yards and has yet to find the end zone in 17 career games. More than half of his production came last season when he had nine receptions for 94 yards, including multi-catch games at New England and at New Orleans in the regular season.
ISAIAH STANBACKOriginally drafted by Dallas in 2007, Stanback played in 10 games for the Cowboys in two seasons before moving onto New England for a season. After a stint with Seattle, the Giants signed him last November to the practice squad where he remained through the Super Bowl. The versatile Stanback is a former high school and college quarterback (Washington) and was also drafted to play baseball in 2006. Stanback has five catches for 46 yards in 16 career NFL games.
DAN DePALMAA Verona native and graduate of West Chester (Pa.) University, DePalma filled the Giants practice squad last September after a short time with the Jets. The 5-foot-11, 192-pound DePalma had his first interaction with Eli Manning during his mini-passing camp in Hoboken last May during the lockout.