The offseason has begun for the Giants.
You might have thought it started after the meaningless blowout of the Eagles in Week 17 when the Giants did not advance to the playoffs, but that was really just the start of the mourning period. The offseason doesn't start until you can make changes that get you pointed toward doing a better job next year.
That period started on Tuesday when the Giants said their goodbyes to linebacker Michael Boley, who was cut with a year left on his deal to save the team his $4.25 million salary. Boley was essential to the Super Bowl run, but he was losing playing time all of last year and wasn't likely to start getting it back with the Giants' need to get more athletic at linebacker.
It continued on Wednesday with the news that running back Ahmad Bradshaw is also looking for a new employer. The Bradshaw news is more surprising, if no less sensible from the economic point of view.
Andre Brown and David Wilson are cheaper without being less productive than Bradshaw, whose $7.75 million in remaining salary was complicated by his chronic foot problems. Bradshaw's toughness will be missed and he'd been a leader in recent seasons, but that wasn't enough to keep him employed.
Defensive tackle Chris Canty said he was sad to see Boley go, which might have been because he knew he was potentially in the line of fire as well. Canty was due $6.25 million and $6.5 million in the next two seasons, which isn't out of line for a productive player at a spot but it was too much for the Giants because he's been axed as well.
Those are three key names from a Super Bowl champ, so it's clear emotion isn't being allowed to rule the day. They may not be the last ones.
David Diehl has to be one of the next names up for discussion. His cap hit rose $3 million when he restructured his deal last season and isn't good enough to count for more than $7 million in total.
Maybe he re-signs at a smaller number, but Diehl won't be on the team and eating up that kind of space. That's the only easy decision, though.
Cornerback Corey Webster's play in 2012 doesn't match his $7 million price tag, but the Giants have no depth at corner and may prefer the chance of a rebound over the possibility of losing Webster. Based on what we've seen in the last two days, though, the Giants could be taking care of all family business.
Justin Tuck's name also comes up, but that is even more remote than Webster moving on. He'll get the final year of his deal to show that he can be more consistent than he's been the last two years, which might not have been the case if he was set to make a bigger dent than $5.6 million or so on the cap.
There are a lot of Super Bowl rings and good memories in that group, but the curtain's coming down for at least some of them. Evolve or die, so says science and so says the NFL.