Inside Slant, Notes, Quotes, Personel: Giants

After a long, draw out courtship, linebacker LaVar Arrington became a Giant on Saturday when he agreed to a seven-year deal reportedly worth $49 million.

He showed up Thursday at Giants Stadium for a physical, which he had steadfastly refused to do for any of the teams with which he had interviewed -- Miami, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Jacksonville, Green Bay and the Giants.

But he did undergo the physical general manager Ernie Accorsi needed as a piece of information to add to the pile of paperwork.

"We came to an agreement that achieves what everybody wants: the player being rewarded for performance. Which is exactly what LaVar and the Giants wanted," Accorsi said.

Arrington's agents, Carl and Kevin Poston, had reportedly been after a seven-year $54 million package with $18 million in guaranteed money. But their numbers dropped to a level the Giants could swallow exactly a week before the NFL Draft.

"We needed a big, power player to add to our defense and LaVar Arrington is that," said Accorsi. "He has a presence about him and he makes us a better football team. The agreement we came to is a fair deal for the player and a fair deal for the organization."

To sweeten the pot, as it were, the Giants also re-signed linebacker Brandon Short, who had signed with Carolina as an unrestricted free agent for the 2004 season.

Arrington and Short were teammates at Penn State, where both earned All-America honors.

DRAFT STRATEGY:

The Giants are best at keeping their intentions secret, although this year it would not be at all surprising if at least their first selection is a defensive player.

Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi, who has shown an inclination to move up in the first round in the past, said that is not part of the plan nor does he go into a draft with that intention in mind.

"It is an instinctive thing, I guess," he said. "If you have a strong conviction on a player and he's close enough to where you pick to make sense, then you try to get it done."

Accorsi did that in 2002 when tight end Jeremy Shockey was available, moving up one spot in a swap of positions with Tennessee. That was also done to snuff a proposed trade between the Titans and the Dallas Cowboys, who also wanted to take Shockey. It was weighed in the Giants' favor since the swap was only one spot while Dallas drafted three or four places lower.

The Giants' needs changed significant when outside linebacker LaVar Arrington was signed to a seven-year deal Saturday. They now can look elsewhere, obviously, for their first-round player.

There is a need for another cornerback, since the signing of veterans Sam Madison and R.W. McQuarters can be viewed, at best, as short-term solutions to a long term problem.

The Giants lost left cornerback Will Allen to free agency (Miami) and the lower back problem that has plagued right corner Will Peterson doesn't seem improved. He is likely to be released.

Accorsi said that this draft is "deeper than usual," and that he was intrigued with the machinations that should take place at the top of the first round.

"There are some great players there and their skills are just too good to pass up," he said. "I expect there will be a lot of jockeying for position. It's going to be done without our involvement, but sitting in the 25th position is good for all the right reasons (a winning record, NFC East championship and such)."

Two positions the Giants would like to enhance might not be done through the draft, he added. First among them is a backup quarterback, and if that happens then Tim Hasselbeck will become expendable.

Accorsi also acknowledged the need for a defensive tackle/nose tackle after the departure to Arizona of Kendrick Clancy, but said: "We think we can pick up a veteran there."

Former Green Bay defensive tackle Grady Jackson is still a free agent.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Former Giant defensive tackle Keith Hamilton, who spent his entire 12-year career with the team, was placed on probation for beating his 12-year-old son. It is alleged that he hit his son with an electric cord and a surge protector, picked him up by the throat and elbowed him in the cheek on Feb. 1, after seeing poor grades on a report card.

"It wasn't the grades, but the fact of not trying, in my eyes," he told Superior Court Judge Joseph A. Falcone in Morristown, N.J. "I disciplined him the way I was raised. Certain occasions call for drastic measures."

Hamilton, nicknamed "Hammer," played 173 games for the Giants, starting 157 of them, and finished his career with 526 tackles, 376 solo and had 63 sacks.

--General manager Ernie Accorsi remembered the late Giants owner, Wellington Mara (who died last Oct. 25 at the age of 89) and said this was the time "the old man" liked best. "He always said the draft was his favorite time of the year," Accorsi said as he prepared for his 35th consecutive NFL draft. "He would sit in the back of our meeting room and stay there all day, taking notes in a small notepad. He had input and it was well founded. We listened to him a lot."

Player personnel director Jerry Reese told the assembled scouts that this year's Giant draft will be dedicated to Mara, and the team put a large photograph of him on the wall in the draft room, showing him paying rapt attention while holding his ever-present notebook.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "You guys always say I don't give up any specific information at this pre-draft meeting. I'll tell you something now. If Reggie Bush is available when we draft, he will be our choice." -- Giants' general manager Ernie Accorsi, whose team is in the 25th spot of the first round.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.

TRANSITION PLAYER: None.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: CB Terrell Buckley; RB Michael Cloud; LB Jay Foreman; LB Nick Greisen; LB Roman Phifer.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers): DT Kenderick Allen (RFA rights terminated); WR Lamont Brightful.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: WR/KR Willie Ponder; TE Visanthe Shiancoe; CB Frank Walker.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: WR Tim Carter; QB Tim Hasselbeck; OG Lewis Kelly; RB/KR Chad Morton; WR David Tyree; OT Bob Whitfield.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED: OLB LaVar Arrington; CB Jason Bell; S Will Demps; S Quentin Harris; CB Sam Madison; CB R.W. McQuarters; G/C Grey Ruegamer; LB Brandon Short.

PLAYERS LOST: S Brent Alexander; CB Will Allen; DT Kendrick Clancy; LB Barrett Green; OG Jason Whittle; S Shaun Williams.

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