Labeled as a flat-out frenzy, the likes of which we have never seen in the age of free agency in sports, the rushed heart of the NFL offseason has certainly been a roller coaster ride so far. If your sports compass is going haywire as a result of the madness, that’s alright – we’re here to help.

It’s no surprise that Big Blue has been busy thus far, in just a couple short days. Let’s recap the cuts, the contracts, and the old faces in new places – after the jump.

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The Giants have been working diligently to get under the $120.375 million salary cap in an effort to re-sign key free agents Ahmad Bradshaw, Steve Smith, and Kevin Boss.

As of tonight, the Giants have officially released several veteran players, including expected cuts Shaun O’Hara, Rich Seubert, Shawn Andrews and Tiki Barber. Fullback Madison Hedgeock was the lone surprise addition to last night’s cut list. Another surprise, for different reasons, was Rocky Bernard’s name being absent from the cut list. However, the Giants are still expected to release him because they were unable to reach an agreement on how to restructure his contract, and he will likely be released today.

Let’s begin by looking at a few key players who won’t be returning to New York this season:

  • DT Barry Cofield
  • This move is hardly a surprise. It was reported yesterday that Cofield agreed to terms with the Washington Redskins and will sign a contract on Friday. The Washington Times is reporting that the deal is six-years, $36 million, with $12.5 million guaranteed.

    Cofield is a pretty good player, but who would offer that kind of mon…oh Dan Snyder.

    Kidding aside I have no doubt the Giants would have made a stronger push to re-sign Cofield, had they not had the budget issues they’re currently trying to work around. Cofield himself knew the Giants weren’t going to be serious players in bidding for him in free agency, and he was determined to test the waters this year after missing out on unrestricted free agency last year due to the rules under the previous collective bargaining agreement. He was always a steady presence along the defensive line. But, a steady at best defensive tackle shouldn’t be given that much money. One source said the Giants told Cofield they were interested in bringing him back (of course they were) – but he knew they wouldn’t be willing to go far enough to do it. With a packed front four and two young players waiting for a chance (Linval Joseph and Marvin Austin), it was time to let Cofield wander to more money-covered pastures.

    The Giants play the Redskins on opening day in Washington on September 11, and like Cornelius Griffin a few years ago, it will take some time to get used to seeing Cofield in a Washington uniform.

    In loving memory here is, one last time, “The Tase”.

  • C Shaun O’Hara
  • When O’Hara learned a good friend of his (more on that in a bit) had just been cut Tuesday morning, he was “sick to his stomach” at the news. O’Hara got so worked up over his teammate being cut, it didn’t even cross his mind that he’d be next.

    O’Hara was heading to the Giants’ practice facility for a workout and a check-up with the trainers when he was told to go upstairs. The same news that shocked his teammate a day earlier had completely “blindsided” O’Hara.

    O’Hara maintained all throughout the offseason that his roster spot was not at all in danger, despite the list of obstacles working against him: age, salary, and the fact that he was rehabbing offseason ankle and Achilles surgeries. O’Hara believed his rehab had gone well enough that he’d only need a few days on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list before being able to fully practice in training camp.

    O’Hara hasn’t thought about retirement at all, and his body feels “as fresh as it’s felt in a long time.”

    From one shock to another, this brings us to …

  • G Rich Seubert
  • Just like his good buddy O’Hara, Seubert was shocked when he learned of the Giants decision to release him. The Rich Seubert that entered the organization as an undrafted, scared kid, leaves as a blue-collar fan favorite after ten seasons in New York. Seubert immediately proved to be a warrior, winning over his teammates with endless grit and impressing the organization with his great talent.

    Never one to quit, Seubert surpassed expectations at every turn of his Giants tenure. In 2001 with the odds against him, he made it out of camp as an undrafted free agent from Western Illinois; In 2003 against Philadelphia, an opponent stepped on the back of Seubert’s right leg – breaking his tibia, fibula, and ankle. After five surgeries, he returned to play in 2005 – but mainly on special teams, or filling in for injured players, as Chris Snee had taken over as the starter. On December 17 of that year, he made his first start in over two years, helping Tiki Barber rush for a team-record 220 yards. He earned his starting job again during the 2007 season, where he anchored the offensive line and led the team to a Super Bowl.

    With some calling him washed up as early as 2008, Seubert continued to exceed the low expectations of some critics. He bounced around from guard to center in 2010, and many (including Jerry Reese) proclaimed Seubert the MVP of last year’s team.

    His Giants career essentially ended in the season finale last year, when he suffered another devastating knee injury that required doctors to rebuild both the MCL and kneecap in his right knee. After yet another offseason of grueling rehab, Seubert said he hadn’t even been cleared to begin running yet. Unlike O’Hara, who believed he would be able to start practicing during camp, Seubert had his sights set on being ready to play by opening day but wasn’t really sure he’d be ready to play until a couple weeks into the season. However, I doubt anyone at this point was willing to bet against him playing in the opener. With the 32-year-old due $2.25 million in 2011, though, the Giants decided not to wait until then.

    A true professional that, based on his history, you have to believe is far from done. I have a feeling we’ll hear Seubert’s name again in the near future, along with O’Hara’s. These guys wouldn’t be so shocked if they didn’t believe they still have some football left in them.

    Those are the big names of players not returning, along with Rock Bernard, whose imminent release just hasn’t been made official yet.

    After a little over 1,100 words, lets’ turn our attention to the key additions:

  • Tom Coughlin
  • He’s back, just as John Mara promised at the end of last season. The Giants have (finally) signed coach Coughlin to the long-awaited contract extension everyone knew was coming, but but had to linger for a while because of the lockout. Since the work stoppage is over, Coughlin could finally sign his name on the dotted line and secure his immediate future with the Giants. The deal extends Coughlin’s contract through the 2012 season.

    In a statement released by the team, Coughlin said, “As I was when I was hired in 2004, I am grateful for the opportunity to be the head coach of the Giants. (It) is the fulfillment of a dream for somebody who grew up where I grew up. I am thankful to work for the Maras and the Tisches and Jerry Reese and his staff, my coach(es) and players.”

    It’s debatable why Coughlin received only a one-year extension. It is possible that the lockout pushed the negotiations away from an “agreement” and this was instead more of a “settlement”, and the fact that Coughlin will be 65 next month and the uncertainty of his ability to coach long-term could have played a role as well.

    Regardless of his age and regardless of a 10-6, playoff-less season last year, Mara and co-owner Steve Tisch have consistently maintained their belief and trust in Coughlin since his arrival in ’04. In today’s NFL of revolving doors for head coaches, it’s extremely gratifying for a team’s owners to have full trust in a head coach for this long, and hopefully they allow him to stay as long as he pleases.

  • G/C David Baas
  • Just a day after telling Shaun O’Hara he’ll be released, the Giants found a potential replacement candidate.

    According to the Sacramento Bee, the Giants agreed to terms on a contract with veteran offensive lineman David Baas. The 29-year-old is a six-year veteran out of Michigan, who was the 49ers starting center last season after Eric Heitmann was injured early in training camp. Prior to last season, Baas had not played center since college. He was originally drafted as a guard, and as a center had some struggles early on, but developed as the season went along and had established himself as a reliable blocker and the leader of the offensive line by the end of the year.

    The signing of Baas was followed by the Bergen Record reporting that the Giants told veteran offensive lineman David Diehl that he will be moving to left guard for the upcoming season, making Will Beatty the starting left tackle. Diehl was originally a guard and performed really well there before moving to left tackle. The new line is now: Beatty (LT), Diehl (LG), Baas (C), Chris Snee (RG), Kareem McKenzie (RT); Adam Koets, Mitch Petrus and Kevin Boothe likely will be the primary backups barring injury.

    The more I read about Baas’ ability, the more I like the guy. A day after releasing two stalwarts in Seubert and O’Hara, the Giants upgraded upgraded both in skill and age at center, and will do the same with Beatty at left tackle and Diehl moving back to left guard. Signing Baas is an understated but strong move, one that will pay big dividends.

  • LB Mark Herzlich
  • National Football Post

    Given the green light to sign undrafted free agents with the lockout finally over, the Giants wasted little time Tuesday by adding arguably the most notable name available – former Boston College standout Mark Herzlich. He is best known for having battled and beaten cancer to return to the playing field in the middle of a successful college career.

    In April of 2009, Herzlich was a projected first-round draft pick but decided to stay in school. He was then diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a form of bone cancer, and underwent an aggressive chemotherapy plan; Herzlich missed the entire 2009 season as a result. A year earlier in 2008 he was the ACC’s Defensive P.O.Y. and a finalist for the Butkus Award, awarded to the nation’s top linebacker, after leading Boston College with 110 tackles and six interceptions. Boston College coach Frank Spaziani called his return to football “a miracle,” as Herzlich returned in 2010 to start in all 13 games for the Eagles, accruing 65 tackles, four interceptions (with a cast on one hand for much of the season), and two forced fumbles.

    Herzlich joins a long line of former Boston College players to join the Giants, including current offensive lineman Chris Snee and free agent linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka.

    After watching pick after pick pass in this past April’s draft without Herzlich’s name being called, I was honestly shocked. His pure athletic ability may never return to his 2008 form, but he does have the best instincts of any linebacker in this year’s rookie class. Simply put, he’s a monster on the football field who has the football talent to be a star in the NFL. And every Giants fan is behind him.