In the single week free agency has been open, no fewer than eighteen safeties have already signed new deals. Curiously, not a single one has yet to end up in East Rutherford. It could be argued no team in the league should be more actively looking for safety help than the New York Giants, with all three safeties that started a game last season hitting the market.
The ability to splash the cash has not been significant given the franchising of Jason Pierre-Paul and a number of high-level contracts already on the books, but the Giants still have brought in a handful of players on lower/mid-level contracts. Despite showing interest in a number of safeties that have since been signed, the Giants thus far have opted for depth at linebacker and on offense. Below, I’ll break down potential missed opportunities on long-term answers, whether letting Antrel Rolle go was wise, and potential signings still out there.
Had McCourty officially hit the market he would have been one of the very best players available and worth the hefty price tag. He ended up re-signing with the Patriots for a reported 47.5 million (22 million guaranteed) over five seasons. A New York native and Rutgers alum, the Giants and Eagles both showed serious interest in bringing McCourty to the NFC East but McCourty ultimately elected to stay with the Super Bowl champions.
Da’Norris Searcy, Tennessee Titans –
Coming off a career year in Buffalo, Searcy was in demand from a number of teams, including the Giants. Signing for just a shade under six million annual at four years, 23.75 million he may be considered a little steep for a player with just one good season behind an elite defensive line. Nonetheless his ability to make plays and clean up close to the line would have addressed a major problem area from 2014.
Parker re-signed with Kansas City on a five year, 25 million dollar deal after receiving interest from a large host of teams including the Giants. Like Searcy, it is just one strong season that Parker rode into free agency but it says something that the Chiefs wanted him back this badly. Teams liked his versatility: he played both safety and corner for Kansas City.
A season-ending leg injury in 2013 is the major blemish on an otherwise promising four years in Denver. Moore overcame the injury to play 16 games in 2014 and showed range is still his strong suit, picking off four passes. He was generally considered the best safety available after Devin McCourty, and looks to be one of the best value signings in the safety market or even free agency in general. The deal Moore signed, three years at 12 million, sounds a lot like the value signing Reese was probably looking for when hesitant to pony up and pay the likes of Searcy and Parker.
Antrel Rolle - The Right Decision?
The Giants remained in contact with Rolle throughout last week, but Rolle decided to join his third NFL team in the Chicago Bears despite a last-ditch attempt by Jerry Reese to bring him back. The deal Rolle ultimately signed, three years for 11.25 million (4.9 million guaranteed), sounds more reasonable than what Giants fans were probably expecting when Rolle hit the market. Still, it is difficult to say the Giants dropped the ball with letting Rolle leave given he showed noticeable signs of decline last season.
The intangibles lost are important to factor in as Rolle was a leader in the locker room, but ultimately the slipping on-field production at age 32 made this a justifiable decision. The question more is what the Giants have so far done otherwise. It is a little surprising Jerry Reese has not tried harder to delve into the safety market and has allocated resources toward more depth and role players.
Who Is Left?
Stevie Brown and Quintin Demps
- It is not the most attractive option, but expect at least one of them back. As it stands, just Cooper Taylor and Nat Berhe man the Giants depth chart at safety and both Brown and Demps are likely to be cheap.
Delmas tore his ACL late in the season with Miami, and thus may not be looking for a team until closer to camp. The former Lion is a decent player with age still on his side but his injury proneness is a major concern.
On the face of it replacing one 32 year-old safety with another defies the point of even letting Rolle go in the first place, but Landry’s 2014 season was much superior. Landry didn’t make splash plays for the Jets last season, but he was a solid contributor in both run and pass defense and ticks the boxes of a decent stopgap for the Giants at strong safety.
Bernard Pollard –
The well-traveled Bernard Pollard will be looking for his fifth NFL franchise after requesting his release from Tennessee in January. He’s a quality in-the-box safety and a real intimidating presence, but is also coming off a season-ending ruptured Achilles’.