Giants were 'thisclose' with Phifer

For all the talk of New York looking into free agent LBs Todd Collins and Lonnie Marts this off-season, the player they actually had their eyes focused on was Roman Phifer, who had spent the last two seasons with the Jets. With the apparent impending training camp holdout of Jessie Armstead, as well as the uncertain status of first-year starter Brandon Short, the Giants were about to ink Phifer right before the season.

However, when Armstead decided to come to camp, GM Ernie Accorsi checked with Jim Fassel to see if the head coach was still interested in the 11th-year veteran. Fassel, showing full confidence in Short, told Accorsi not to bother signing Phifer.

As a result, the Giants kept their LB corps intact, while Phifer was still left looking for work. Ironically, he signed with the Patriots on Aug. 3 and participated in the joint practices with the Giants. Phifer, who looked good in the practices, posted one tackle in the preseason match-up.

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