Let's continue our series of positional reviews for the New York Giants by looking at our final defensive position -- safety. How the giants proceed at this position could be one of the more intriguing stories of the off-season.
Kenny Phillips -- Played very well, when he was healthy enough to get on the field. Phillips had a +7.4 Pro Football Focus rating (15th among 8 NFL safeties who played at least 25 percent of their team's snaps), a passer rating against of only 39.6. Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell seemed more willing to turn other defenders loose when Phillips was playing. The problem is that a knee injury kept him off the field more than on it, as he played in only seven games. Phillips' 304 snaps played was barely more than 25 percent of the Giants' defensive snaps.
Antrel Rolle -- Has really become the leader, or at minimum the voice, of the Giants' defense. Rolle's 92 tackles (four for loss) were second on the team. As he did in 2011, Rolle often played out of position in the slot. Maybe someday the Giants will actually be able to let him roam the secondary as a play-making safety, which is what they signed him for.
Stevie Brown -- Probably the most pleasant surprise of the 2012 season. With Phillips' injuries and the early-season suspension of Tyler Sash Brown received an opportunity and made the most of it. He finished with a team-hgh eight interceptions, added two fumble recoveries, a forced fumble, 11 passes defensed, 66 total tackles in 11 starts and a Pro Football Focus rating of 4.1. Quarterbacks had a 71.3 passer rating throwing in Brown's direction.
Will Hill -- Made the team as an undrafted free agent, and flashed enough play-making potential that he could become a big part of the team's defensive plans in 2013. Hill flashed ability especially as a 'box' safety against the run. He played only 35 snaps of run defense, 17 of those lined up within eight yards of the line of scrimmage. In those 17 snaps he made three stops -- plays resulting on offensive failures. That was fourth-best in the league. A small sample size, but intriguing.
Tyler Sash -- Suspended for four games at the beginning of the season for Adderall. The second-year man again showed ability on special teams, but fell behind both Brown and Hill on the safety depth chart.
The biggest, and most obvious question, regards the future of Phillips. The 2008 first-round pick is an unrestricted free agent and, while he is an excellent player, it would not be a stunning decision if the Giants allow Phillips to leave. They are over the cap, have little reason to offer him an expensive long-term deal considering his knee issues and the emergence of Brown and Hill, and it seems likely there will be a handful of NFL teams willing to outspend the Giants for Phillips.
Of course, you have to wonder if Brown can repeat his 2012 performance and if Hill can handle an expanded role. Also, there is the possibility that Terrell Thomas -- after two seasons away with knee injuries -- could return and provide depth here.