We kick off our first-ever “30 Questions in 30 Days” feature in which we send out a call for reader questions via email and Twitter to see what’s on the mind of Giants fans everywhere.
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— Ibleedbigblue (@tmerritt51) February 11, 2016
Excellent question and one I actually raised on Twitter shortly after word came out that Jon Beason was planning to retire after nine seasons.
I think the Giants actually had a chance to prepare for life after Beason these last two seasons, as with him being on injured reserve for most of the last two years, we got a chance to see who was willing to step up and who was not.
Of those not really willing to step up and embrace the leadership role were cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and cornerback Prince Amukamara. Pierre-Paul and Amukamara are, of course, unrestricted free agents, their future with the Giants a question mark, so we’ll discount them from the discussion for the time being.
The one guy who did step up was defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins, whom, if I remember correctly, lost out to Beason for the 2015 captain title by one vote. When Beason went down. Jenkins became the new defensive captain by default. Like Amukamara and Pierre-Paul, he too will be an unrestricted free agent.
So who’s left? I like defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins for the role, but with a caveat—I’d like to see the Giants lock him up to a long-term contract, as he’s in the final year of his rookie deal.
I think Landon Collins has the making of a leader as well, especially since he tries to model every aspect of his game after the late Sean Taylor.
I could also see Robert Ayers Jr., if he’s re-signed, serving as a short-term defensive captain.
With all that said, remember one thing. When a team has a new head coach, just about everything that was laid out prior goes out the window.
Ben McAdoo might, for example want to name weekly captains instead of season-long captains (a move I’d endorse as it gives different guys things to shoot for).
So the bottom line is we’ll see which direction it takes, but certainly it’s a good question and one that hopefully ends up resolved the right way.