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Giants Face Tough Decisions on Unrestricted Free Agents

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One season after winning the Super Bowl, the New York Giants failed to make the playoffs. As a result, general manager Jerry Reese has a lot of work to do in the offseason. One place to start is the team's list of pending unrestricted free agents, which includes Chase Blackburn and Osi Umenyiora. Here's a look at some of New York's key UFAs. Will they re-sign or is it time for them to say goodbye?

Osi Umenyiora (DE) -- There's a good chance Umenyiora has played his last game for the Giants. The two-time Pro Bowler has played on Big Blue's last two championship teams, but he's in position for a sweet salary increase. Rather than forking over more money to the 31-year-old defensive end, the G-Men may seek a replacement for Umenyiora with their first-round pick (No. 19) in this year's draft.

Kenny Phillips (S) -- I like Phillips. So do the Giants. He's an experienced safety in an otherwise thin secondary, but the fifth-year pro had trouble staying on the field this season. Furthermore, the emergence of restricted free agent Stevie Brown, who had a team-leading eight interceptions in 2012, could make Phillips expendable. The price must be right for the Giants to bring him back.

Domenik Hixon (WR/KR) -- Throughout the season, Hixon had an opportunity to become a featured wide receiver, but he never established himself in the offense. However, he did provide the Giants with a reliable return man on special teams, and that's a big deal to coach Tom Coughlin. If Hixon does return, it'll probably be at the expense of fellow UFA Ramses Barden, who hasn't delivered on his potential.

Chase Blackburn (LB) -- Blackburn's heart and hustle made him an asset on defense and special teams, but is he worth keeping? It depends on the price. Conceivably, the Giants could go with Mark Herzlich at linebacker, plus unrestricted free agent Keith Rivers, when healthy, is another option.

Martellus Bennett (TE) -- Bennett exceeded expectations in his first season with the Giants. The former Dallas Cowboy set career highs in catches (55), yards (626) and touchdowns (five). However, other teams probably noticed and could make a run at him in the offseason. Bennett is valuable, but Eli Manning can make almost any tight end look good (see Kevin Boss, Travis Beckum).

The rest of the Giants' UFAs: Will Beatty (T), Kevin Boothe (G), Lawrence Tynes (K), Rocky Bernard (DT), TE Bear Pascoe (TE), David Carr (QB), Beckum (TE), Sean Locklear (T), Justin Tryon (CB), Kregg Lumpkin (RB), Ryan Torain (RB), Shaun Rogers (DT), Brian Witherspoon (CB).

Adam Martini is a freelance sports writer who grew up in Queens, N.Y. rooting for the Giants despite being surrounded by Jets fans. He proudly wears his Rodney Hampton jersey on Sundays during the football season. Adam follows back Giants fans on Twitter @Pegcitysports.


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