PHOENIX -- The Giants' Super Bowl win on Sunday night will rightfully take its place among the greatest upsets in NFL history. New York was just the fifth wild-card entry to win a Super Bowl, and the first from the NFC.
But before we all get caught up in the giddy question of whether
So while the Giants are undeniably well-stocked with young talent at key positions like quarterback, running back and defensive line, their Super Bowl success does not ensure much of anything for 2008. With the long NFL season over, the offseason has begun for all 32 teams. Here's a snapshot look at how the two Super Bowl teams stand as they head into the personnel acquisition portion of the NFL's calendar:
New York is projected to have about $20 million to work with under the $116 million cap (which is up $7 million from last year's $109 million), and that's a better position than the Giants were in last year at this time. In terms of salary cap room, New York is in the upper third of the league. Even better, the Super Bowl champs don't have a very daunting list of its own free agents to worry about, so general manager
Locking up starting free safety
New York's other free-agent linebacker,
The Giants would like to retain soon-to-be 42-year-old punter
First-year defensive coordinator
Other than that, New York is expected to reward once-embattled head coach Tom Coughlin with a four-year contract extension in the range of $20 million. Stability has not exactly been the byword in New York during Coughlin's tenure, but the Giants will enter the 2008 season with pretty much the exact same cast of characters.
The Giants earned the 32nd and final slot in the first round with their Super Bowl victory, but that will really be the 31st selection overall since No. 31 New England is forfeiting its pick as part of its punishment for the Spygate incident. New York's draft needs include offensive tackle, receiver, cornerback and safety if the team loses Wilson.
The Giants were road warriors in 2007, going 10-1 and then winning the neutral-site Super Bowl against a Patriots team that seemingly had a much bigger fan base in the stadium on game day. Maybe as a reward, their 2008 schedule doesn't look that difficult. New York draws only six games against 2007 playoff teams (with four of those coming against NFC East rivals Dallas and Washington) and seven games against teams that had winning seasons this year.
The Giants have the weak NFC West in intra-conference play (at Arizona and St. Louis, home against Seattle and San Francisco), and their four AFC interconference games are against the North Division, where trips to Pittsburgh and Cleveland should be challenging. In addition, the Giants have a road game at Minnesota, and we know what havoc the Vikings defense always seems to wreak on Eli.
The Patriots are roughly $10 million under the $116 million cap, but that's a projection with some flexibility built into it. They could make even more room for themselves without too much trouble, thanks to some rather hefty option bonuses that will force them to make decisions on receivers
New England's two big issues are No. 1 cornerback
The Patriots would love to retain Samuel, especially since it's widely expected that their division rivals, the Jets, will make a big run at him. But while New England is willing to exceed what it paid Samuel last year, it's hard to see the Patriots paying top dollar. That's not New England's style. Samuel seems to know he has played his last game as a Patriot and struck a "life goes on" tone after the Super Bowl Sunday night.
As for Moss, both sides will be motivated to strike a deal. Moss repeatedly said last week that he wants to retire a Patriot, and even
If he accepts the Patriots' winning-team discount, our best guess is that Moss settles for something in the $7 million-a-year range.
As for the Patriots' other free agents,
There was pre-Super Bowl speculation that the Redskins would interview Patriots offensive coordinator
There's been some buzz that University of Virginia head coach
You might have heard about the Patriots having to forfeit their first-round pick for their part in a little controversial video-taping incident in September ... But don't fret, because in addition to that No. 31 pick, New England also owns the draft's seventh overall selection, which was obtained in a draft-weekend deal with San Francisco last April. If the Patriots see Samuel sign elsewhere, filling their need at cornerback makes the most sense with their top 10 pick.
The Patriots are definitely going to get their frequent flyer miles in next season. They've got the NFC West for their interconference opponents, and the AFC West for their four-game intraconference slate, and when you add it all up, it means New England will have four cross-country trips in 2008: at Oakland, San Diego, Seattle and San Francisco. And that doesn't even include the Patriots' toughest game of all, at Indianapolis, where they'll get a look at the Colts' new Lucas Oil Stadium.
On the plus side, New England's home schedule is cushy soft. Based on 2007 records, the Patriots will play just one home game next season against a winning team: Pittsburgh. All told, New England has just four games against teams that made the playoffs this season, one of the league's lowest amounts. Dare we say it? Could another run at perfection loom?