The Giants were still reveling in their Super Bowl XLVI victory this time last year, preparing for a championship parade through the Canyon of Heroes.
They were busy breaking down the roster a year later.
In a flurry of moves with significant salary-cap implications, the Giants parted ways with running back Ahmad Bradshaw and defensive tackle Chris Canty on Wednesday after the previous day’s cut of linebacker Michael Boley.
All three players were important contributors to the Giants’ 2011 Super Bowl run, especially Bradshaw, who scored the game-winning touchdown — albeit reluctantly — to beat the Patriots 21-17.
“Pound for pound, Bradshaw is one of the toughest football players that I’ve been around,” general manager Jerry Reese said. “Ahmad played football like Giants football should be played.”
Changes were expected as Big Blue went from the penthouse of the NFL to out of the playoffs despite finishing with the same 9-7 record in the last two regular seasons.
The salary cap for the 2013 has been reportedly set at $121.1M.
By saying goodbye to Bradshaw, Canty and Boley, the Giants should clear $13.75M to sit at approximately $118.25M with more movement anticipated.
Aside from the cap situation, there is another common link between Boley, Bradshaw and Canty last season: all dealt with injuries that limited their availability and production.
Bradshaw turns 27 next month and was due $3.75 million in 2013 and $4 million in 2014. With the presence of 2012 first-round pick David Wilson and the expected return of restricted free agent Andre Brown, who emerged last season, the Giants appear poised to move into the future with those two less expensive options at the top of the depth chart.
Bradshaw was in New Orleans for Super Bowl XLVII and revealed he underwent surgery two weeks ago to remove and replace a screw in his right foot. The oft-injured back said he hoped he would be back with the Giants, but understood his roster spot might be in jeopardy.
Bradshaw has spent his entire six-year career with the Giants. He is sixth on the franchise’s career rushing list with 4,232 yards.
“I can’t say it’s a concern, but there’s always a chance of me not being back next year,” Bradshaw said last Saturday. “With David there, Andre, now they may have what they’re looking for and they may be light on cash.”
Canty, 30, was part of the Giants’ 2009 free agency class that also included Boley.
“Chris Canty is a pro’s pro, a true team player and competitor,” Reese said. “He helped us get to the top in 2011 and it was a pleasure having him here during his time with the New York Giants.”
Without Canty, the Giants are even thinner at defensive tackle with starter Linval Joseph the only proven player at the position on the roster. Former second-round pick Marvin Austin has yet to impress, while last year’s seventh-round pick Markus Kuhn is recovering from ACL surgery.
That could mean the Giants will target a DT in this year’s draft, perhaps even in the first round with the 19th overall pick.
Boley’s departure will likely open the door for Jacquian Williams and Spencer Paysinger to step up and compete for a starting job.
In a radio interview Wednesday, Canty told ESPN New York: “I wish everybody here the best. That being said, I would love the opportunity to compete against the Giants.”