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Camp Position Battles: David Wilson vs. Andre Brown



2013 Cap Hit – Wilson: $1,519,205; Brown: $2,023,000

Amount Remaining on Salary – Wilson: $6,684,502 ($5,382,979 guaranteed); Brown: $2,023,000 ($0 guaranteed)

The salaries for the New York Giants’ top two running backs subtly represent the different areas they are in their respective careers. Wilson, 22, is entering the second year of his 4-year rookie deal. Brown, 26, has been through multiple teams’ training camps before finding a nice role with the Giants.

This is less of a position battle because both guys will see plenty of action on the field this season (For what it’s worth, both will be drafted before Round 10 in fantasy leagues this year.) What makes this situation interesting, however, is Coach Tom Coughlin’s relationship with running backs in general. Coughlin (generally) doesn’t care about a contract or what the front office’s expectations for a particular player are.  If Wilson’s fumbling problems resurface or he struggles to find holes in opposing defensive lines, the percentage of carries will tilt in Brown’s favor. If Wilson can show a little more of the electricity on display during his time at Virginia Tech and holds on to the ball, Coughlin will (perhaps begrudgingly) reward him with the ball.

The majority of the carries could prove to be great experience for Wilson, who figures to be on the roster until at least 2015. Brown could be gone next summer (and should he have a productive season, likely will be gone). But if the coaching staff believes Brown will give the Giants a better shot to win, he will see much more than his current third-down back role with the team.

Look for Wilson to have a bigger role early, but for Coughlin to lose trust at the season goes along. Brown was clearly a player that Coughlin enjoyed utilizing in different sets and situations before he went down with injury last season. Luckily for the Giants, I am not the coach. If it were up to me, I would be sending Henry Hynoski up the gut with the ball on downs one to three.

Ca(m)p Position Battles: Mark Sanchez vs. Geno Smith


2013 Cap Hit – Sanchez: $12,853,125; Smith: $912,655
Amount Remaining on Salary – Sanchez: $40,475,000 ($19,250,000 guaranteed); Smith: $5,019,603 ($3,068,784 guaranteed)

Although this will get plenty of national media coverage, the battle between New York Jets quarterbacks Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith for the starting job may not be the most interesting storyline to a diehard football fan. However, there is much at stake cap-wise. Mark Sanchez, much lamented for his performance as a starter in 2012 (attributed to the “butt-fumble” and beyond), still could be a viable option as a starter this year. While Rex Ryan has shown in past and present press conferences to have an inexplicable fondness for the beleaguered Sanchez, if the Jets wish, they can have him off the books by the end of the season. Why not give him a shot at the beginning of the season to attempt to recreate some of the magic from his back-to-back AFC championship game appearances (2010-2011, albeit surrounded by a more talented roster)?
The Jets can however wait on Geno Smith. Thanks to both the new CBA and Geno’s plummet to the second round in the 2013 NFL Draft, Geno has a very team-friendly contract, so the Jets can afford to let him study the game in a backup role. Additionally, contrary to the wave of young quarterbacks that have set the league on fire in the last few years (Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick and, to a lesser extent, Andy Dalton), Smith is considerably less polished coming into the league. It does not seem to be beneficial to throw him under fire amidst the circus that is the New York Jets. In my opinion, the Jets should give him time to study and observe from the sideline. For the time being, keep Sanchez on the field until it becomes unbearable (I would say at least 5 weeks). It could not go worse than it did last year. Sorry Jets fans, that’s as optimistic as I could get.

Due to the impatience of the Jets’ fan base and organization, however, Geno Smith could start as soon as Week One. Rex Ryan could be, after all, coaching for his job.