The SportsXchange


New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle earlier this month, said Tuesday he expects to be "100 percent" ready for camp this summer.

"I think I'd be safe to say I'd be 100 percent for the start of training camp. I would hope so," Manning told reporters.

Manning expects to be running again by late May.

The Giants' offseason program started Monday with two weeks of strength and conditioning and rehabilitation. They will then hold organized team activities (OTAs) May 28-30, June 2-3, June 5, June 9-10, June 12-13, and a mandatory minicamp June 17-19.

The 33-year-old Manning has started 151 regular-season games in a row, most among active quarterbacks. He struggled in 2013, throwing 27 interceptions against only 18 touchdowns. He was sacked a career-worst 39 times.

Manning will be learning a new offense under new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo.

--The New York Giants agreed to a five-year deal with free agent cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. The former Denver Bronco was considered the top corner left on the market.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the $39 million deal includes $15 million guaranteed, According to the New York Daily News, the total value of the contract is $35 million. The difference is in base value and max value with incentives.

Rodgers-Cromartie became the third member of the secondary to join the team in two days. On Sunday, the Giants added former Seattle Seahawks cornerback Walter Thurmond and former Kansas City Chiefs safety Quintin Demps.

Rodgers-Cromartie and Thurmond each started in Super Bowl XLVIII last month in MetLife Stadium.

"The main thing, bringing in guys from Kansas City, Seattle, you can see what they're doing, trying to bring guys that are going to come in and lead by example," Rodgers-Cromartie said. "That's always a plus."

A former first-round draft choice and 2009 Pro Bowler, Rodgers-Cromartie is entering his seventh NFL season. He has also played for Arizona and Philadelphia. Rodgers-Cromartie played on two conference champions, the 2008 Cardinals and the 2013 Broncos. One of his secondary partners in Arizona was safety Antrel Rolle, who joined the Giants in 2010 and was a defensive captain and Pro Bowler last season. Rolle lobbied on Twitter for his former teammate to join the Giants.

"I was with him for two years in Arizona," Rodgers-Cromartie said of Rolle. "He brought me in, took me under his wing and took care of me. So to be reunited with him is just a blessing. I know the things that he's done in his career and the man he's become. That's going to be a help for me.

"I'm glad to be here. Especially with Antrel and talking with the defensive coaches and the staff and even coach Tom (Coughlin), just talking with them, it's going to be good."

Rodgers-Cromartie, who will turn 28 next month, is 6-foot-2 and 193 pounds. He has played in 92 regular-season games with 75 starts and has started all nine postseason games in which he played. His career totals include 239 tackles (205 solo) and 19 interceptions that he has returned for 409 yards (21.5-yard average), 129 passes defensed and five touchdowns, which tied him for fourth place among active players at the end of the 2013 season. He also has three postseason picks.

"It's that knack," Rodgers-Cromartie said of his ability to score on a pick. "When I have the ball in my hands, I'm obviously looking to score. Any time I get my hands on the ball, that's definitely what you play this game for, to get your hands on the ball and make things happen."

In 2013, Rodgers-Cromartie joined the Broncos as a free agent and played in 15 regular-season games with 13 starts at right cornerback. He was inactive at Kansas City on Dec. 1 with a shoulder injury. He finished the season with 31 tackles (25 solo), a team-high 15 passes defensed and tied for the team lead with three interceptions, including one of Giants quarterback Eli Manning's passes late in the second quarter in Denver's victory on Sept. 15.

In the Broncos' Super Bowl loss to the Seahawks, Rodgers-Cromartie had five solo tackles and two passes defensed.

Rodgers-Cromartie was the 16th overall selection in the 2008 NFL Draft by the Cardinals, from Tennessee State.


--The NFL announced each team's preseason schedule without precise dates or times, except for national TV games and the final preseason week (Week 4) in which all games will be on Thursday, Aug. 28. Week 1 games are Aug. 7-10, Week 2 Aug. 14-18 and Week 3 Aug. 21-24.

The Giants will play Buffalo in the Hall of Fame Game Aug. 3, which will be played at 8 p.m. Eastern time on NBC. Then, they will be at home against Pittsburgh in Week 1 and New England in Week 4, while going on the road to play Indianapolis in Week 2. The annual preseason game against the Jets will be in Week 3 and will be a Jets home game.

--Wide receiver Mario Manningham agreed to a one-year contract with the Giants.

Manningham, 27, is returning to New York after two injury-plagued seasons with the San Francisco 49ers. He had just nine receptions for 85 yards in six games last season. Manningham was signed in 2012 to provide a deep threat in the 49ers' offense opposite Michael Crabtree.

When quarterback Alex Smith was displaced by Colin Kaepernick, Manningham did not seem to be on the same page with Kaepernick. In 2013, Kaepernick had a passer rating of 13.9 on attempts on which Manningham was the intended target.

"It was frustrating, but it was a learning experience also," Manningham said. "When I got back (from a knee injury), I couldn't do what I wanted to, I knew I needed a little bit more time. It's coming along and I just have to work on getting stronger and getting my strength back and trusting it more. I'm doing good; it's getting stronger."

Manningham played his first four seasons with the Giants.

"I'm happy to be back," Manningham said. "I'm real excited. It's just great to see everybody, be around familiar faces, knowing everybody in the past and just being comfortable around everybody.

"Once a Giant, always a Giant. That's how I feel. This is a very special place. I wanted to come back."

Manningham was a key part of the Giants' championship run following the 2011 season, catching touchdown passes in each of their three playoff victories and making a key fourth-quarter reception in the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots.

In his career, the 6-foot Manningham has 211 catches for 2,849 yards and 19 touchdowns in six seasons.

Meanwhile, the Giants officially announced the signing of former Denver Broncos return specialist Trindon Holliday.

Holliday, who last season scored on a 105-yard kickoff return and an 81-yard punt return against the Giants, became the latest player to move to MetLife Stadium. He will join safety Quintin Demps, one of Sunday's acquisitions, as players expected to give the Giants' returns a much-needed jolt.

Holliday is the second former member of the AFC champion Broncos to sign with the Giants in the last day, joining cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

"It's great to get an opportunity to come out and be part of another team," Holliday said. "I'm signed to do a job and that's come in and help this team out on special teams as best as possible. I'll be ready to report.

"The team's going in the right direction. The Giants are trying to get back to their winning ways. This offseason has had some good things and I look forward to the rest."

Holliday's most recent memory MetLife Stadium was unpleasant -- his Broncos were crushed by the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII, 43-8.

"It's not a very good one at all, but I'm willing to change those things around this season," he said.

Although he is just 5-foot-5 and 170 pounds, Holliday's speed and elusiveness have made him one of the NFL's most dangerous return specialists.

"Sometimes, I think my size is an advantage," Holliday said. "I can field the kicks and hide behind those big linemen when the other guys are coming down. It's hard for them to see me."

However, he lost his return job because of fumbling issues last season, and he said about coming to the Giants and coach Tom Coughlin, "We had the discussions already. He said him and me were going to get real acquainted with ball security. I don't have a problem with that. I've have had some miscues of handling the ball, but it's not going to take much for me to fix that."

In 31 regular-season games over three seasons, he has returned 80 punts for 752 yards (9.4-yard average) and two touchdowns. His 81-yarder in Denver's victory over the Giants last Sept. 15 was the longest of his career.

--Former Seattle Seahawks cornerback Walter Thurmond agreed to a one-year, $3.5 million contract with the Giants. The Giants also strengthened both their secondary and return game when they signed free-agent safety Quintin Demps.

The 26-year-old Thurmond, who last month started Super Bowl XLVIII for the champion Seahawks, now has a chance to enjoy frequent success in MetLife Stadium.

Thurmond (5-foot-11, 190 pounds) comes to New Jersey after spending his first four NFL seasons with Seattle, which selected him in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft, the 111th overall selection from Oregon.

"I wanted to meet other teams and see what was out there," Thurmond said in a statement. "Once I came here and met the coaching staff and heard the opportunities they presented to me, I couldn't resist. It was a testament to the coaching staff. I got along with everybody, Coach (Tom) Coughlin, the general manager (Jerry Reese), the DBs coaches -- just great people out here."

Thurmond played in 34 regular-season games with eight starts and made his only start in five postseason games in the Super Bowl. He was limited to six games in 2011 and two in 2012 because of injuries.

In 2013, Thurmond played in 12 regular-season games with three starts. He missed four games while serving a suspension for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy. Thurmond returned for the regular-season finale against the St. Louis Rams and played in all three postseason games.

Thurmond's career totals include 80 tackles (63 solo) and one interception, which he returned 29 yards for a touchdown last Nov. 17 in a victory over the Minnesota Vikings. In the postseason, he has nine tackles (five solo) and a pass defensed, including three tackles (one solo) in Seattle's 43-8 rout of the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl.

"Only 19 teams have won a Super Bowl," Thurmond said. "To be a part of that group is a tremendous honor. The New York Giants have been able to do that four times in their history. When you do it once, you want to keep going back.

"I'm a competitor. I play the game to win championships. The Giants organization has a lot of prestige, a lot of history in that aspect of winning four Super Bowls. We want to bring another one here."

Now he joins a group of Giants cornerbacks that currently includes Prince Amukamara, Jayron Hosley and Trumaine McBride.

"I'm all about competition," Thurmond said. "I know they have a need here. I'm going to bring my work ethic and make the most of the opportunity they're going to give me."

The 5-foot-11, 208-pound Demps played in 2013 for the Kansas City Chiefs and has previous stops in Philadelphia (two seasons) and Houston (three).

Last season, Demps was third in the NFL with a 30.1-yard kickoff return average on 33 runbacks, including a 95-yard touchdown at Washington on Dec. 8. He also led the Chiefs with four interceptions.

In his career, Demps has a 27.5-yard average on 96 kickoff returns. As a rookie in 2008, he brought one back 100 yards for the Eagles at Baltimore.

Demps joins Antrel Rolle, Will Hill and Stevie Brown in the back of the Giants' defense.

Demps has played in 64 regular-season games with six starts, all last season for the Chiefs. He has also played in eight postseason games with two starts.

Demps' career totals include 93 tackles (73 solo), seven interceptions, a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

Demps entered the NFL as a fourth-round draft choice of the Eagles in 2008, the 117th overall selection.

--Free-agent linebacker Jameel McClain signed a contract with the Giants March 14, the same day the team officially re-signed middle linebacker Jon Beason.

McClain, a seven-year veteran, was released by the Baltimore Ravens on Feb. 27 afer playing 87 regular-season games and starting 55.

"It was a mixture of surprise and disappointment," McClain said. "You learn with more time in this league that it's a business and sometimes they make business decisions that most people don't understand. It just was one of those things that was like, 'Dust yourself off and try again.'"

In six seasons the Ravens, McClain started 55 regular-season games and compiled 338 tackles, 4.5 sacks, one interception, one forced fumble and three fumble recoveries. He added 60 tackles on special teams.

The 28-year-old McClain is excited about joining the Giants.

"It's an opportunity," McClain said. "I believe in opportunity and I believe that everything happens for a reason. Now I get a chance to re-create myself. I get a chance to re-create my own identity without being placed with any label.

"No disrespect to anything that I've been through or anybody anywhere else, but when you get into this position you have to choose the best for your family, the best for your career, the best for your longevity."

In 2013, McClain started 10 games at weak-side linebacker after he was activated on Oct. 19. A spinal contusion in 2012 put him on the physically unable to perform list at the start of last season. He finished the year with 50 tackles and a forced fumble.

"I've got a chip on my shoulder the size of a golden nugget," McClain said. "I'm all the way there. Every time that I get a little itch, God always slaps me in the back of the head and says, 'Jameel, you've got a long way to go.' I signed a little deal and then after that I got hurt, that was God slapping me on the back on the head.

"Once I came back from that injury then I get cut, so that's God slapping me on the back of the head again, just saying, 'Your job is to be the underdog.' For the world to see that the underdog can make it possible, that's my destination, that's going to be my journey. I know it and I accept it."

--The saga of wide receiver Hakeem Nicks finally ended March 14 when he agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Colts.

The previous weekend, the agents for Nicks reportedly circulated medical assurance memos from the fifth-year receivers' doctors, according to ESPN.

Those documents were said to contain statements validating that Nicks' prior foot and knee injuries are no longer of concern nor a factor in prohibiting him from displaying the speed and quickness he showed in 2011.

That report, filed by Chris Mortensen, also stated that Nicks was willing to weigh a one-year contract offer to prove to whoever signs him that his last two seasons, in which he combined for 1,588 yards on 109 catches and three touchdowns, were aberrations.

One day after that report was issued, a follow-up story from ESPN, this time from Josina Anderson, quoted Nicks as saying, "I just want to make it clear that I want a long-term deal."

Nicks also mentioned his desire to go to a team where he would be "the missing link," naming the Colts, Panthers and Chargers as possibilities.

Nicks, who according to a report by the NFL Network in January was said to have drawn numerous fines from the Giants for being late and for missing treatments, reportedly first drew the ire of the team when he decided to skip the voluntary OTAs last spring.

Nicks never gave a reason for his decision, but it was widely speculated that he was concerned about setting himself back health wise in his contract year.

Based on his play last season, he seemed to carry over those concerns into the regular season. There were times when he didn't look to have the speed or burst he showed in 2011, nor did he always seem to fight for balls the way he had in the past.

--The Giants have restructured the contracts of guard Chris Snee and punter Steve Weatherford.

Snee, who was due a base salary of $6.75 million in 2014, the final year of his contract, reportedly accepted a cut down to $1.1 million. He can increase his overall earnings to $2.1 million if he reaches certain incentives.

By accepting a pay cut, Snee lowered his $11.3 million cap figure to $5.65 million.

Weatherford, who was due a $2.025 million base salary, reportedly had that total base slashed in half, according to a source. He will, however, have a chance to earn back some of the lost money via incentives. In addition, the remaining two years on his deal were not touched.


--Defensive end Robert Ayers signed a two-year, $4 million deal with the Giants.

Ayers, who posted a career-high 5.5 sacks with the Broncos in 2013, was the 18th overall pick in 2009 and spent his first five seasons in Denver.

Ayers has the size at 6-feet-3, 274 to play left or right end and even slide inside to defensive tackle in the Giants' NASCAR package, filling part of the role played by Justin Tuck in previous seasons. Tuck signed with the Oakland Raiders last month.

Ayers has 27 career starts and experience at outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense and was primarily a defensive end in recent seasons. He will join a group of pass rushers that includes Jason Pierre-Paul, Mathias Kiwanuka and Damontre Moore.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for me, coming to a great organization like this," Ayers said. "They hate losing and they're always about getting better and preparing and I've heard nothing but good things about the general manager and the owners, the coaches.

"Everyone speaks highly of them across the league. They're a blue-collar organization, and I'm looking forward to being part of that. I left the Denver Broncos, who were a good organization, and I feel like I'm going to just as good or better of an organization. It's going to be good to come here and be with leaders like Jon Beason and Antrel Rolle and Eli (Manning). It's going to be a good experience for me, and hopefully I can help this team win."

--Guard John Jerry signed with the Giants Friday March 21.

Jerry, formerly of the Miami Dolphins, was one of the offensive linemen named in NFL investigator Ted Wells' report of the team's bullying scandal.

Jerry, Richie Incognito and Mike Pouncey were named by Wells as players who participated in "a pattern of harassment" against teammate Jonathan Martin, who left the team in October and has since signed with the San Francisco 49ers.

"We did our homework on John, like we do with every player we sign. We were satisfied with the answers we got about John as a player and person," general manager Jerry Reese said in a statement.

Jerry, 27, has started every game at right guard in each of the last two seasons. The 349-pounder has also played tackle. In four years with the Dolphins, he has played 57 games.

--The Giants released center David Baas as a post-June 1 cut and with the designation failed physical. Baas played only three games last season because of neck and knee injuries.

He told the team website, "I haven't lost that drive, I haven't lost that desire to play football. But sometimes other things are more important, and we've come to that crossroads. The thing that takes precedence right now is my health. It's part of the business. It's something that you prepare for and you just kind of move on from there."

Baas is hopeful of possibly re-signing with the Giants later if he can get healthy.

"The Giants have been absolutely fantastic," he said. "They definitely have changed mine and my family's lives forever. Once we get the health issues taken care of, we'll go from there, and maybe there's another chance. Coming back to the Giants, who knows? They've just been really great and the medical staff has been excellent. I enjoyed playing for (head coach) Tom Coughlin. I wish Tom Coughlin could have been my head coach my entire career. That would have been nice. (Offensive line coach Pat) Flaherty and everybody, they've just been awesome. I can't say enough good things about the Giants organization, the owners and everybody. It's part of the game. I thank them and definitely am grateful for everything they've done."

Baas will be 33 in September, and there is the possibility he could have neck surgery.

He said, "I'm actually going to get another opinion next week. I've gotten a couple different people saying that they would recommend it if I ever wanted to play again. It's definitely something I have to think through. That's what we're going to do. I don't want to make a rash decision and pay for it later, so we'll listen to the experts.

"The knee is a little bit disappointing, because it's taking a little longer to recover. It's something we'll continue to try and get healthy."


--RUNNING BACK: The players at this position under contract are free-agent addition Rashad Jennings, second-year man Michael Cox and third-year man David Wilson, the latter of whom is rehabbing from neck surgery, thus making his availability for training camp uncertain at this point. New offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo stressed that for a running back to get on the field, he has to be able to protect the quarterback.

--TIGHT END: The Giants could be looking at the draft to address the tight end position, even after the addition of Kellen Davis. After voiding the contract of Brandon Myers and passing on re-signing unrestricted free agent Bear Pascoe, the team could still be holding out hope that one or both of Adrien Robinson and Larry Donnell are ready for the next step.

--DEFENSIVE TACKLE: The Giants lost starter Linval Joseph, and although they re-signed Mike Patterson, Cullen Jenkins, Johnathan Hankins and Markus Kuhn are the only other defensive tackles returning with any prior experience. This position is one that the team still must address.


UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)

--OL Jim Cordle (not tendered as RFA) is coming off a season-ending knee injury. With the Giants placing a premium on rebuilding the interior of their offensive line, Cordle doesn't appear to be in the plans moving forward.

--RB Da'Rel Scott (not tendered as RFA) ended the season on injured reserve after being re-signed to help staff an injury-depleted running backs corps. He's not expected to be re-signed.


--TE Bear Pascoe isn't the most physically gifted tight end out there, but he's a solid and versatile veteran who could provide stability to a tight end crop that includes a pair of unknowns (Larry Donnell and Adrien Robinson). However, it appears the Giants have no interest in re-signing him.

--DT Shaun Rogers finished his season on injured reserve with a knee injury. The soon-to-be 35-year old will probably not be back with the Giants.

--CB Aaron Ross played well before a back injury shut him down for the rest of the season. With the Giants looking to upgrade the talent at that position, he's probably not in the plans moving forward.

--CB Terrell Thomas is hoping to parlay his first successful year back from two ACL surgeries into an opportunity to start with an NFL team. That opportunity probably won't come from the Giants, as New York seems intent on upgrading that position through free agency.

--CB Corey Webster finished his second-straight injury-filled year by playing in just four games last season. The final year of his contract was voided and he is not expected back with the Giants.




--LB Jon Beason: UFA; $16.8/3 yrs, $4.4M SB/$6.03M guaranteed.

--K Josh Brown: Potential UFA; $2.6M/2 yrs, $225,000 RB 2014-2015.

--S Stevie Brown: UFA; $2.75M/1 yr, $1M RB.

--LB Mark Herzlich: Potential RFA; $1M/1 yr, $200,000 RB.

--RB Peyton Hillis: Potential UFA; $1.8M/2 yrs, $100,000 RB.

--FB Henry Hynoski: Not tendered as RFA; $1M/1 yr, $250,000 SB.

--CB Trumaine McBride: Potential UFA, $2.875M/2 yrs, $100,000 SB/$225,000 RB.

--QB Curtis Painter: UFA; $795,000/1 yr, $65,000 SB.

--DT Mike Patterson: UFA; terms unknown.

--LB Spencer Paysinger: RFA tendered at $1.431M with no compensation); $1.431M/1 yr.

--OL Dallas Reynolds: ERFA; $570,000/1 yr.


--DE Robert Ayers: UFA Broncos; $4M/2 yrs, $1M SB/$1.75M guaranteed.

--CB Zack Bowman: UFA Bears; $795,000/1 yr, $65,000 SB.

--T Charles Brown: UFA Saints; $795,000/1 yr, $55,000 SB/$10,000 RB.

--TE Kellen Davis: UFA Seahawks; $795,000/1 yr, $15,000 SB/$30,000 RB.

--S Quintin Demps: UFA Chiefs; $1M/1 yr, $100,000 SB/$100,000 RB.

--TE Daniel Fells: FA; $730,000/1 yr.

--QB Josh Freeman: UFA Vikings; terms unknown.

--KR/PR Trindon Holliday: Not tendered as ERFA by Broncos; $700,000/1 yr, $100,000 SB.

--RB Rashad Jennings: UFA Raiders; $10M/4 yrs, $2.25M/SB/$2.98M guaranteed.

--G John Jerry: UFA Dolphins; $770,000/1 yr, $25,000 guaranteed.

--WR Mario Manningham: UFA 49ers; $755,000/1 yr, $25,000 RB.

--LB Jameel McClain: FA Giants; $4.5M/2 yrs, $600,000 SB/$400,000 RB 2015.

--CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie: UFA Broncos; $35M/5 yrs, $10M SB/$13.98M guaranteed.

--G Geoff Schwartz: UFA Chiefs; $16.8M/4 yrs, $3.2M SB/$6.2M guaranteed.

--CB Walter Thurmond: UFA Seahawks; $3M/1 yr, $1M SB/$2M guaranteed.

--C J.D. Walton: UFA Redskins; $5M/2 yrs, $1.25M SB/$3M guaranteed.


--C David Baas (released/failed physical/post-June 1 designation).

--OL Kevin Boothe: UFA Raiders; $2.625M/2 yrs, $300,000 RB.

--RB Andre Brown: UFA Texans; 1 yr, terms unknown.

--OL David Diehl (retired).

--RB Brandon Jacobs (retired).

--DT Linval Joseph: UFA Vikings; $31.5M/5 yrs.

--S Ryan Mundy: UFA Bears; $3M/2 yrs, $650,000 SB.

--WR Louis Murphy: UFA Buccaneers; terms unknown.

--TE Brandon Myers: UFA Buccaneers; $4M/2 yrs, $2M guaranteed.

--WR Hakeem Nicks: UFA Colts; $3.975M/1 yr, $2M SB/$375,000 RB.

--LB Keith Rivers: UFA Bills; $4.05M/2 yrs, $1M SB.

--DE Justin Tuck: UFA Raiders; $11M/2 yrs.

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