The lockout is over.
Now, it's time to get back to work.
For the Giants, Monday's unanimous vote of the NFLPA's executive committee to approve the league's collective bargaining agreement and antitrust suit settlements meant that their players can get back to the business of playing football. And for Tom Coughlin's group, that means a Friday reporting date to training camp at the Timex Performance Center, with first practice scheduled for Saturday.
The real question, though, involves who the players currently under contract will have as their teammates. Free agency gets underway Tuesday at 10 a.m., and the Giants will be able to sign their rookies and undrafted free agents, as well as negotiate with their own free agents and outside unrestricted free agents.
According to ESPN, the Giants are $6.3 million over the new $120.3 million salary cap, but that will only make for some careful signing. They're not in the salary cap hell that some thought they were before the deal was signed, and they should be able to keep who they want and sign who they want from the outside with just a bit of roster trimming and restructuring.
Chances are, they won't delve deeply into the outside free agent market, but rather opt to keep some of their own like Ahmad Bradshaw, Steve Smith, Kevin Boss, and Mathias Kiwanuka. Barry Cofield is probably a goner, as he'll command a nice figure from somebody like Tampa Bay, who has an acre of cap room.
The list of the top outside free agents will either be too expensive for the Giants or too unattractive.
Plaxico Burress? Didn't work out too well at the end of his first run with the Giants, so don't expect a repeat appearance. Nnamdi Asamugha? Too pricey, even for a shutdown corner. Antonio Cromartie? Too much baggage.
But don't be surprised if the Giants go after a mid-line veteran; a serviceable type who comes at an economic price, especially at defensive tackle. Also, there's news that the Ravens have already cut running back Willis McGahee, so he could be an attractive backup to Brandon Jacobs if they decided Ahmad Bradshaw is too rich for their blood.
Whatever they do, the Giants players will be delighted just to get back on the field. Player rep Shaun O'Hara said as much in the moments after the players okayed the CBA.
"After a long and strenuous process, we are extremely pleased to be able to get back to our jobs," O’Hara said via e-mail. "The business side of the game has been exhausting for everyone, including the fans. It is our hope that this 10 year agreement will bring a decade’s worth of labor peace and enable the game to continue to grow exponentially."