By: Evan Slavit
On the first day of free agency the Giants got their top target, signing free safety Antrel Rolle to a 5-year 37 million dollar contract, with 15 million in guaranteed money. The contract makes Rolle the highest paid safety, and gives the Giants two former Miami Hurricanes to form arguably the best safety tandem in the league.
Last season after Kenny Phillips went down with an injury, the Giants safeties appeared to be invisible. C.C. Brown and Michael Johnson looked lost all season, as the Giants gave up countless big plays. Aside from the problems at defensive-line, safety was the biggest issue for the Giants, and Coughlin and Reese made a point of that in interviews after the season.
First of all, I like this move as outside of Kenny Phillips there is no one on the roster that I feel confident in starting. Also the chances of the Giants starting a rookie at safety seem slim, if you remember Kenny Phillips did not start his entire rookie season despite having a good training camp and preseason. The move instantly makes the Giants secondary top five in the NFL. With some improved play from the defensive line the Giants could have a dominant defense.
The only thing I am worried about, is what this means for Kenny Phillips. When he was placed on IR last season there was speculation it was a career-threatening injury. The Giants have denied that, but if they were confident in him returning, why spend so much on another safety? Michael Johnson would not be terrible starting next to Phillips and there were cheaper options in free agency. Phillips is going to be a free agent eventually, and if he plays as well as everyone thinks he can, the Giants are going to have to pay him in the same ballpark they payed Rolle. I do not know how, if the league goes back to a salary cap, the Giants can afford to pay two safeties that much money.
I feel the Giants made this decision because they are not certain if Phillips will be back healthy next season, and would like to make sure that they have a stud back there to avoid the same problems of last season. Coughlin has denied the speculation saying it has nothing to do with Phillips, so hopefully I am reading too much into it. Looking at the move by itself, it was a great pick-up for the Giants. The secondary has now become a big strength for the defense, and should help Fewell out a ton. I truly believe that if injuries don't hit too hard this defense could return to the form we saw in 2007 and 2008.
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