Now that the parade is over, the confetti is cleaned up, and the silly Eli, elite debates have been put to rest, it’s time to start thinking about a Super Bowl repeat. To start, the Giants must evaluate their impending free agents and make some tough decisions. In addition, the Giants must think long and hard about two important players who are under contract for 2012, but are very unhappy with the figures involved…

Tom was Tom. Eli was Eli. AP PHOTO

In total, the Giants have 18 impending free agent players. On the offensive side of the ball, wide receiver Mario Manningham headlines the list with tight end Jake Ballard, tackle Kareem McKenzie, and guard Stacy Andrews following him up. On defense, the Giants have a copious list of impending free agents, headlined by corners Aaron Ross, the extremely talented, constantly injured Terrell Thomas, safety Deon Grant, defensive lineman Dave Tollefson, Rocky Bernard, and linebackers, Jonathan Goff and Chase Blackburn.

While most of these players were instrumental in the Giants success, punter Steve Weatherford should be the highest priority. Weatherford was so good this season, esepcially during the playoffs, and helped Giant fans ease their minds from the Matt Dodge-DeSean Jackson disaster a year earlier. Weatherford is a must-have.

In addition to the impending free agents, Osi Umenyiora and Brandon Jacobs are not happy with their current contract. Osi held out a portion of training camp last year, called GM Jerry Reese ‘a liar’, and is seeking elite defensive end money. Osi is set to make roughly $4 million for the 2012 season and with the emergence of Pierre-Paul, the Giants may not offer Osi the money he wants.

Brandon Jacobs, who started to win Giant fans over during the playoff run, restructed his deal last year in order to re-sign backfield mate, Ahmad Bradshaw. The 29-year-old, burly running back is set to make roughly $4 million in 2012, the last year on his deal. Jacobs has publically stated he wants to return, but will he cause a rift if the Giants do not enhance his contract?

Free Agent Predictions

Of the noted free agents, I don’t think Aaron Ross or Mario Manningham will return. I believe that the Giants drafted Prince Amukamara under the assumption that Ross would get a big free agent offer and walk. Same goes for Manningham. Victor Cruz clearly stepped up and passed Manningham on the depth chart. A team like the Redskins may feel inclined to offer the Michigan product a contract above market rate and the Giants will likely pass. Plus, the Giants have two internal options (Ramses Barden and Jerrel Jernigan) who are raw, yet cheap options to fill his void.

I don’t think the Giants will have any issue re-signing Grant, Goff, Weatherford, or  Blackburn. I think Terrell Thomas, who suffered a season-ending ACL tear early on, will be a relatively easy sign for the Giants. I think teams will be scared of his knee issue, allowing the Giants to ink him to a fair deal. Let’s not forget that Thomas is one of the Giants’ best corners, when healthy. The Giants may throw a few more incentives Jacobs’s way for restructuring last season, but 2012 will be another ‘show me’ season. Jacobs will be 30-years-old so the Giants must exercise caution.

I think Tollefson and Osi will be 50/50 to return. Tollfeson and Osi are integral parts of the Giants pass rush. With the emergence of JPP, Osi has become more expendable and the Giants may choose to release him if he becomes a distraction. Tollefson will likely have his suitors, but he’s a very underrated player that the Giants would like to bring back.

While it’s natural to want to bring everyone back, sports just don’t work that way. The Giants will draft new players, rely on new faces to step up next season, and depend upon a few old standbys. Speaking of old, the Giants offensive line, which averaged 29 years old per lineman, clearly needs an infusion of youth.

Now that the parade silliness is over, it’s time for the Giants to get back to business and defend their Lombardi Trophy.