Giants Announce Signings

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants today began the promised upgrade of their secondary while also bolstering their special teams when they signed cornerbacks Sam Madison, R.W. McQuarters and Jason Bell, plus safety Quentin Harris. In addition, the Giants re-signed punt and kickoff returner Chad Morton, backup tackle Bob Whitfield and reserve quarterback Tim Hasselbeck.

The team was also awarded cornerback Brandon Williams off waivers from the Atlanta Falcons.

"First of all, we wanted Chad Morton and Bob Whitfield back," general manager Ernie Accorsi said. "We have looked for a while for a dependable return specialist and after we found one in Chad we didn't want to lose him. Whitfield gives us tremendous peace of mind at the critical left tackle position.

"Madison and McQuarters are veteran corners who have instantly upgraded our secondary. The two young signees, Harris and Bell, will be in the mix with the young corners we already have to give us a good mix back there. And McQuarters is also a premier returner, which gives us depth at that critical position. We wanted to upgrade our secondary in free agency so we can go into the draft with an open mind."

Madison played his first nine NFL seasons for the Miami Dolphins. McQuarters played last season with the Detroit Lions. He began his NFL career with two seasons in San Francisco, followed by five years in Chicago. Harris played his first four years with the Arizona Cardinals. Bell, entering his sixth year, played one season for the Dallas Cowboys and the last four with the Houston Texans.

"In Sam Madison we have a proven veteran who has been an outstanding challenging corner his entire career," head coach Tom Coughlin said. "We think he is an outstanding fit for our team. Obviously, he does, too. McQuarters is Mr. Versatility who has proven over the years that he can play right corner, left corner, the nickel position and the dime position. He has even played safety. He is a proven punt returner and kickoff returner, no matter whether the job has been his or whether he has filled in with injuries.

"In Jason Bell you have a young corner who has played in the dime situations, who has been an outstanding special teams player, who is very anxious to compete and play in this system. In Quentin Harris you have a proven special teams performer who has had multiple responsibilities, including personal protector to prove his reliability, and who has also seen action as a corner and as a safety. So, in these players you have versatility, you have got veterans, you have got guys that have played in multiple roles and are looking forward to an opportunity to be New York Giants and to compete for positions in the secondary."

Madison, 5-11 and 180 pounds, has 31 career interceptions, including two he returned for touchdowns. He has played in 138 games with 127 starts, including six seasons in which he started all 16 games. Madison has also played in eight postseason games, all starts. He played for the AFC Pro Bowl team every season from 1999-2002, the first three as a starter. Madison's 31 interceptions place him third on Miami's career list, behind Jake Scott (35) and Dick Anderson (34).

In 2005, Madison started all 15 games in which he played at right cornerback for the Dolphins. A hip injury forced him to miss the Oct. 30 game against New Orleans, breaking his streak of 59 consecutive games played. Madison was fifth on the Dolphins with 59 total tackles (49 solo). He also had two interceptions, 12 passes defensed and a forced fumble. Madison had a season-high seven tackles (six solo) at Oakland on Nov. 27 and interceptions versus Buffalo on Dec. 4 and Tennessee on Dec. 24.

"I think this is going to be a very exciting move for me and I'm looking forward to it," Madison said of coming to the Giants. "I pretty much knew my fate was going to be that I would not return to the Dolphins. The Giants showed an interest in me right away. It was very, very exciting to see them win the division last year. I'm going from one great football city to another.

"Coach Coughlin was also a big contributing factor in me signing there. He's a hard worker, a dedicated worker, and he loves to win. When I put all the pieces of the puzzle together, there was no other place for me to visit, or even think about going to. I wanted to play for the New York Football Giants."

The University of Louisville product was the Dolphins' second-round draft choice in 1997, the 44th overall selection. As a rookie he played in 14 games with three starts and had 20 tackles (16 solo) and an interception.

The following year, Madison began a three-year run in which he started all 18 Dolphins games, including six in the playoffs. He tied for second in the NFL with eight interceptions, led the club with 23 passes defensed and was fourth with 59 total tackles.

In 1999, Madison led the Dolphins and tied for the NFL lead with seven interceptions, including one of a Peyton Manning pass he returned 21 yards for his first career touchdown vs. Indianapolis on Dec. 5. The other league leaders were Baltimore's Rod Woodson, Kansas City's James Hasty, Tampa Bay's Donnie Abraham and Philadelphia's Troy Vincent. Madison was selected AFC Defensive Player of the Week three times, becoming only the second player to receive the award three times in the same season (Cincinnati safety Dave Fulcher in 1989 was the other). He was also voted to his first Pro Bowl and was named an All-Pro by the Associated Press, USA Today, Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News Pro Football Weekly and Football Digest.

Madison was selected a first-team All-Pro by the Associated Press, Pro Football Weekly, The Sporting News, Football Digest and USA Today in 2000, when he was also a Pro Bowl starter for the second time. He finished the season with 40 tackles (38 solo), five interceptions, 16 passes defensed, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. Madison scored a touchdown against Buffalo on Oct. 8, when he scooped up a Sammy Morris fumble and returned it 20 yards for a score.

In 2001, Madison was again elected to be a Pro Bowl starter, but he was unable to play in the game because of a shoulder injury. He started all 13 games in which he played, keying a Dolphins pass defense that was ranked first in the NFL, allowing only 176.8 yards a game. Madison sustained a right shoulder A/C joint separation on a play in which he intercepted a Manning pass on Nov. 11. When he missed the Jets game the next week, it ended his streak of 57 consecutive starts. He missed the next two games before returning to action on Dec. 10, also against, ironically, the Colts, the team Miami was playing when Madison hurt his shoulder.

Madison started all 16 games in 2002, when he had 31 tackles (27 solo) three interceptions and a team-high 14 passes defensed. He was an alternate for the AFC Pro Bowl squad and was added to the team when teammate Patrick Surtain could not play because of a knee injury. Madison had one of the AFC's six interceptions in a 45-20 victory.

In 2003, Madison again started all 16 games at right cornerback and had 55 tackles (50 solo), three interceptions, 14 passes defensed and two fumble recoveries. At Jacksonville on Oct. 12, Madison forced and recovered a fumble and intercepted two passes, including one he returned 29 yards for the final touchdown in a 24-10 victory.

Madison again started 16 games in 2004, though one of the starts was on the left side. It was the third year in a row he started every game, the second time in his career he had such a streak. Though he did not have an interception for the first time in his career, Madison had a career-high 60 tackles (45 solo), forced three fumbles and had nine passes defensed. He made the 100th start of his career vs. the Jets on Oct. 3.

Madison was a four-year letterman and a three-year starter at Louisville from 1993-96, when he set Cardinals records for interceptions (16) and passes defensed (44). As a senior, he was a second-team All-America and a first-team All-Conference USA pick after registering 52 tackles, six interceptions, two sacks and 16 passes defenders. He also caught three passes for 143 yards and a touchdown. Madison had seven interceptions and was a third-team All-America as a junior.

Madison was a wide receiver and defensive back at Florida A&M High School in Tallahassee. He also lettered in basketball, baseball, track and field and advanced to the state finals in the triple jump and long jump.

An active participant in charitable and community affairs, Madison formed his own organization called "Madison Avenue for Kids." Madison and his wife, Saskia, have a son Kellen, who will be three in June, and a daughter, Kennedy, who is six months old. Madison was born on April 23, 1974 in Monticello, Fla.

McQuarters, is a 5-10, 195-pounder. He has played in 115 regular season games with 69 starts and has 11 career interceptions, 168 punt returns and 61 kickoff returns. McQuarters has also played in three postseason games with one start.

In 2005, McQuarters played all 16 games for the Lions, including 11 starts (five at right corner, five at left corner and one as the third corner). He was fifth on the team with 59 tackles (50 solo), two interceptions and 15 passes defensed. McQuarters also averaged 23.8 yards on 16 kickoff returns and 11.7 yards on 10 punt returns.

McQuarters left Oklahoma State after his junior season and was selected in the first round of the 1998 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers (the 28th overall selection). As a rookie, he played in 16 games with seven starts and returned a punt 72 yards for a touchdown. McQuarters started four of 11 games in 1999 before suffering a shoulder injury that forced him to go on injured reserve and miss the final five games of the season.

On June 5, 2000, McQuarters was traded to Chicago for a sixth-round draft choice. He played five seasons in Chicago, returning an interception 61 yards for a touchdown in 2000 and starting all 41 games in which he played from 2001-2003. McQuarters returned a punt for a touchdown in 2003 and scored on both a punt return and a 45-yard interception return in 2004.

McQuarters signed with the Lions on June 22, 2005. He started the first game and the last 10 games of the season.

McQuarters was born on Dec. 21, 1976 and was raised in Tulsa, where he was a Parade All-America at Washington High School. At Oklahoma State, he played defensive back and wide receiver and returned punts and kickoffs. He founded the McQuarters NITT Foundation, which stands for Now Is The Time. He also donated $2.5 million to Oklahoma State.

Harris, 6-1 and 214 pounds, has played in 54 career games with six starts. He has one interception, eight passes defensed, three fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles and 54 special teams tackles.

In 2005, Harris played in all 16 games for the third season in a row for the Cardinals. He had 21 tackles (16 solo), three passes defensed and a team-high 24 special teams tackles, including four in the season opener against the Giants.

Harris, a former standout at Syracuse, was signed by Arizona as an undrafted free agent on April 22, 2002. He was released on Sept. 1, signed to the practice squad two days later and added to the active roster on Nov. 14. Harris played in six games as a rookie.

Harris made his first NFL start at safety vs. Carolina on Dec. 14, 2003. The following year he started four games. Harris recorded his first career interception at St. Louis on Sept. 12, 2004, when he also had four tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

At Syracuse, Harris started 39 of 42 regular season games and finished his career with 327 tackles (183 solo), 10 interceptions, four forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries.

Harris was an All-Pennsylvania selection as a junior at Elmer L. Myers High School, where he scored 35 touchdowns and had 1523 receiving yards and 12 interceptions. He is married (Tara) and has a daughter (Aliya). Harris was born on Jan. 26, 1977.

Bell, 6-0 and 186 pounds, has played in 67 NFL games with no starts. Most of his action has been on special teams, where he had 39 tackles in his four seasons with the Texans.

In 2005, Bell played in every game and had four special teams tackles, plus four tackles and three passes defensed and a forced fumble on defense.

Bell was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Dallas Cowboys on April. 27, 2001. He led the team with 21 special teams tackles (including three vs. the Giants on Dec. 9) but was placed on waivers and claimed by Houston on Sept. 2, 2002. Despite missing three games with a broken wrist, Bell led the Texans with 14 special teams tackles.

In 2003, Bell played in 13 games (he was inactive for the other three) and finished with 15 tackles on special teams and one on defense. The following year, he played in nine games before a broken forearm forced him to go on injured reserve. Bell had six special teams tackles before suffering the injury.

Bell was a four-year letterman at UCLA, where he had 42 tackles and nine passes defensed as a senior. He was a quarterback, wide receiver and defensive back at Millikan High School in Long Beach, Calif. He was born on April 1, 1978.

Hasselbeck was awarded off waivers to the Giants on May 9, 2005, shortly after he was released by the Washington Redskins. He played in two games in relief of Eli Manning, but did not throw a pass. Hasselbeck has played in 11 career games with five starts. He has completed 95 of 177 passes for 1,012 yards, five touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Morton joined the Giants as a free agent on Sept. 3, 2005 and was an important contributor as a punt and kickoff returner. He was selected a first Pro Bowl alternate. Morton finished fifth in the NFC and eighth in the NFL with a 9.6-yard punt return average. He had career-long returns of 58 and 55 yards, and he scored on a 52-yard return vs. Arizona. Although he has played only one season for the Giants, Morton is already eighth on the team's career list with 453 punt return yards.

In addition, Morton handled the kickoff return duties in six of the last seven games, plus the NFC Wild Card Game against Carolina. He averaged 23.3 yards on 24 returns, with a long runback of 41 yards.

"In Chad Morton we have a guy who I think is even going to be better this year in the return capacity than he as a year ago when he started out as our punt returner and then competed in both punt and kickoff returns," Coughlin said. "And now we have a guy (McQuarters) who is a veteran return man who gives you the depth, if you will, at that position, so that in both players you have the ability for the big play."

Whitfield, who signed with the Giants on May 4, 2005, is entering his 15th NFL season. Last year, he played in all 16 games – primarily on special teams – with two starts, one each at left tackle and right tackle.

In his career, Whitfield has played in 204 games with 169 starts.

Whitfield joined the NFL as the Atlanta Falcons' first-round draft choice in 1992, the eighth overall selection. As a rookie he played in 11 games, primarily on special teams.

In 1993, Whitfield stepped into the lineup at left tackle and began a streak of eight consecutive years in which he started every game. In a 10-year span, he missed only one game. On Nov. 19, 2000 he sat out a game at San Francisco with a neck injury.

Whitfield was a fixture on the Falcons' line for 11 years. That included the 1998 season, when the Falcons finished 14-2 in the regular season and upset Minnesota in the NFC Championship Game to advance to Super Bowl XXXIII.

In 2003, Whitfield started the first eight games of the season before breaking his right fibula in a game against Philadelphia on Nov. 2. That forced him to go on injured reserve for the first time in his career. The following year, he joined the Jacksonville Jaguars and appeared in 10 games as a reserve and on special teams.

"Bob Whitfield is a guy, who whenever we have asked him to perform, has played well," Coughlin said. "We have won with him starting, we have won with him coming in. He is a veteran offensive lineman who is very much aware of the role that he plays and who has the ability and the intelligence to focus on the game as it is unfolding. And if called upon to play, he has a very good feel for the opponent and the individual that he is going against. Or if he is going to start, he prepares himself very well and then does a good job as a starter."

Williams, 5-11, 186, has never played in an NFL regular season game. The University of Michigan product was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Denver Broncos on May 19, 2003. He had two stints on their practice squad before his release on Oct. 14. Williams was signed to Atlanta's active roster on Dec. 18, 2003, but was inactive for the last two games of the season.

Williams had 11 tackles for the Falcons in the 2004 preseason but was cut on Sept. 5. He was signed to the Cincinnati Bengals' practice squad on Nov. 9 and remained there through the end of the season. Williams was waived at the end of training camp. He signed with the Falcons on Dec. 7 and was inactive for the final four games of the season. Williams was waived on March 7.

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