Giants to let veterans hit free agency

INDIANAPOLIS -- Defensive end Justin Tuck and wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, two cogs on the New York Giants' 2011 Super Bowl championship team, will hit the open market March 11 as free agents, general manager Jerry Reese said Saturday at the NFL scouting combine.

Reese, saying he prefers to take a wait-and-see approach with regards to the market, also mentioned linebacker Jon Beason in that category.

Tuck is the biggest name because he has spent nine seasons with the Giants, coming off a season in which he recorded a team-high 11 sacks. He turns 31 next month.

"Justin is going to go to the market and see what's out there for him," Reese told reporters. "I had talks with all those [prospective free agents]. Free agency means free agency. It means you go out and get as much as you can.

"I'm all for players getting as much as they can. Justin deserves to see what the market is. We'd love to have him back. We'll see where it goes."

Reese was less effusive when it came to Nicks, who had a disappointing season. He finished with only 56 catches for 896 yards and no touchdowns.

Not counting potential restricted free-agent tenders, the Giants figure to have about $19 million in salary-cap room, based on a projected $130 million cap. But they have 21 players headed to unrestricted free agency, including defensive tackle Linval Joseph, who will be costly.

The Giants could create room by renegotiating with quarterback Eli Manning, who will count $20.4 million on the cap in the next-to-last year of his contract.

Reese didn't dismiss the possibility of restructuring Manning's deal. He also hinted that guard Chris Snee ($11.3 million cap) will have to re-work his contract.

"We're keeping all our options open with respect to that," Reese said of the Manning situation.

The Giants, coming off a 7-9 season, have a lot of holes to fill, starting on the offensive line, although Reese was optimistic that Snee and David Baas will return from significant injuries.

With David Wilson attempting to return from neck surgery, the Giants also will be in the market for a running back. Reese expressed hope that Wilson will be fine, but he's not taking any chances.

"Obviously, we can't put all our eggs in that basket," he said. "We will continue to look for running backs in free agency and the draft as well."

There also will be a hole at wide receiver, assuming Nicks bolts as a free agent.

Reuben Randle, who led the team with six touchdown catches, is expected to make "a significant jump," according to Reese. But the GM didn't sound convinced that Randle could replace Nicks as the No. 1 receiver.

One thing they don't have to worry about is Tom Coughlin's contract. On Friday, the Giants announced a one-year extension, meaning the coach is under contract through 2015.

"It's important to get it off our plate," Reese said. "We're going into the offseason and we want to get all the coaches' contracts off the plate, and we were able to do that. Now we can focus on personnel."