August 10, 2011
It hasn't been a very good offseason for the New York Giants. Not only have they had to watch the Philadelphia Eagles load up on free agents and trades at a crazy pace, but they lost tight end Kevin Boss(notes) to the Oakland Raiders, first-round cornerback Prince Amukamara(notes) is out for an undetermined length of time with a foot injury, and defensive end Osi Umenyiora(notes) is very unhappy about his current contract and would like to go elsewhere.
Now, even more potentially bad news. Former Giants receiver Steve Smith, a free agent this year, has become the latest player to sign with the Eagles — the one-year deal was first reported by Comcast Sportsnet Philly's Reuben Frank on Wednesday afternoon.
The news is a blow to the Giants' offense, but it's still unknown just when Smith will play for the Eagles. He had microfracture surgery in December of 2010, and after meeting with Smith's agent, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said that it may be midseason before the receiver is ready to go.
"I would disagree with that personally just because I feel good," Smith said after the deal was done. "I've been running, I've been doing different things, cutting and stuff and it's been feeling good. I haven't been having any setbacks, so hopefully that will continue, but we'll see."
So what was Coughlin up to?
"Maybe Coughlin has a plan or something up his sleeve when he said that," Smith said of his former coach's assessment. "Who knows, but I got checked out by both team doctors and have positive reports, so we'll see what happens when I get on the field."
The Eagles' doctors certainly seem more optimistic, and with their receiver corps, Andy Reid's team can afford to wait on Smith if he's not ready to go until the 2011 season is half-done. Michael Vick(notes) already has DeSean Jackson(notes), Jeremy Maclin(notes), and Jason Avant(notes) as his receivers, Brent Celek(notes) is one of the best pass-catching tight ends in the league, and LeSean McCoy(notes) is an underrated option out of the backfield.
Smith had an abbreviated season in 2010, but he made the Pro Bowl in 2009 when he caught 107 passes on 157 targets for 1,220 yards and seven touchdowns. He finished eighth in Football Outsiders' cumulative defensive-adjusted efficiency ratings and looked to be one of the better receivers in the league before the injury disappointments of 2010.
It's a smart play by the Eagles — they are essentially short-buying a potentially explosive talent on time payment with enormous upside and a negligible cap charge, and they're potentially sticking a fork in a division rival along the way.
As for the Giants, they have to be wondering, "What's next?"
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