Originally written on Big Giants Boom  |  Last updated 3/1/12

Shale Briskin
BGB Contributor

Now that the NFL offseason is under, the Super Bowl champion Giants are facing a lot of questions regarding who to bring back, and at what cost. There are various players at each position that would be nice to have back for at least the 2012 season. However, there are three players that stand out from the rest, and their contributions in the 2011 season were very significant to the Giants' Super Bowl run.

3. Jake Ballard TE

After Kevin Boss signed with the Raiders last offseason, the Giants had to figure out who was going to be their main tight end going forward. Bear Pascoe and Travis Beckum were both decent options, but the Giants ultimately went with undrafted free agent Jake Ballard as their main tight end. Ballard would soon become one of the biggest surprises for the Giants this past season. He finished the regular season with 38 receptions, 604 receiving yards, and four touchdown catches. He also contributed four receptions in the Super Bowl.

With the pool of free agents among tight ends being rather thin this year, it's important that the Giants make the right move and bring back Ballard for at least one or two more seasons.

2. Osi Umenyiora DE

One of the league's best defensive ends for the past decade, Osi Umenyiora is essential to the Giants' defensive success, even if he is no longer a starter per se. As everyone saw this past season, more depth can always help a team become more successful. The Giants this past season were fortunate enough to have the luxury of being able to use all their defensive ends in some schemes, most notably the "Nascar" package.

Umenyiora finished the regular season with 25 tackles and nine sacks. He has been a feared force on the Giants' defensive line for years, and even if he demands a raise, he should be able to get the raise he deserves. In the event that Jason Pierre-Paul or Justin Tuck ever got injured for a significant number of games, it would always be nice to have someone like Umenyiora fill in without having to worry about a reserve being under a lot of pressure to perform well. As a result, the Giants need Umenyiora back in order to keep the defensive line as the best in the game.

1. Mario Manningham WR

The Giants have a three-headed monster in a great group of young and elite wide receivers, but it's clear that Mario Manningham is more or less the "third" member of this group. In other words, he is not considered as good as teammates Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. However, throughout all of last season, Manningham was clutch when he was healthy, and even more when others were injured. Furthermore, he made the most significant catch in the Super Bowl last month.

Manningham had 39 receptions, 523 receiving yards and four touchdown catches during the regular season. More importantly though, he became a viable option for Eli Manning when Cruz and/or Nicks were either covered well or injured. As stated with the Giants' defensive ends, it's always good to have more depth at any given position, especially with receivers. As a result, Manningham needs to be brought back, preferably on a three or four year deal. He's young, just like Cruz and Nicks, and these three receivers have the potential to help the Giants become a dynasty in the years to come. Jerry Reese cannot let this possibility slip away.
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