Four years ago, the Giants watched one of their most valuable defensive players leave in free agency and sign with a division rival. After a productive stint in Washington, Barry Cofield is a free agent again. Should the Giants bring him back? That depends on who you ask.
Cofield has been healthy and productive as a run stopper for most of his career. From his rookie year of 2006 through 2013, he only missed a single game. However, last season Cofield went on injured reserve with a high ankle sprain after just eight games played and seven total tackles. Now at age 30, prospective buyers of Cofield have to decide if the nine-year veteran can get back to being a productive player or if his best years are behind him.
Also coming into the play is the Giants’ own defensive line situation. Johnathan Hankins is coming off of a terrific season and looks to be a major player in New York for years to come. He’s still got two years left on his rookie contract, but the Giants have to already think about what it’s going to take to sign him long-term. The other starter at defensive tackle is the veteran Cullen Jenkins. With just one year left on the deal he signed with New York in 2013, Jenkins is not in the Giants’ long-term plans and should not prevent them from improving the defensive front.
If the Giants bring in Cofield this year he probably wouldn’t be a starter, but New York never plays just two defensive tackles. Behind the starters, depth at the position is a bit of a mystery. Mike Patterson is getting old and is an unrestricted free agent this spring, while Markus Kuhn is cheap but often ineffective. If Cofield is healthy like he was in every year before 2014, he’ll give the Giants an experienced depth upgrade that can help fill the void left by Patterson.
What other teams see in Cofield and what kind of contract he’s willing to sign will determine the Giants’ interest level. If the veteran still thinks that he’s still worth the $6 million that he earned in 2014, then Cofield is going to be too expensive for New York to bring in as a depth player. However, if he’s willing to accept a deal befitting a role player, the Giants may be very interested in a reunion.