We've reached the end of our New York Giants free agency adventures. There have been highs. There have been lows. But through it all, I think we have all grown closer as a family..ok…enough of that. This is our final entry into our ongoing series. We have discussed the wide receivers, tight ends, backup quarterback, offensive/defensive lines, safeties and linebackers. Now we'll finish off with the defensive backs..and one other very special dude.
There are so many members of the Giants' defensive backfield set to hit the free agency market that I found it necessary to split them up. Yesterday, we took two safeties out of the equation. That leaves us with six, count 'em, six defensive backs on the chopping block. Arguably, the most significant member of this particular list is Aaron Ross. The Giants took Ross with their first pick of the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft. Ross is a two-time Super Bowl Champion. But is it time to cut ties with this five-year veteran of the New York Giants?As previously discussed in this series, the Giants must make some concessions in order to come in under the salary cap. Of the six defensive backs on the market, excluding the safeties, no one brings home a bigger paycheck than Aaron Ross. It is almost a prerequisite for a player to express his interest in coming back to play for a team, once his contract has expired. Aaron Ross has done that. But he also made comments that indicate his desire to put some money in his pocket.
Ross is coming off of the best statistical year of his career. That, however, is not saying much. With the G-Men giving up the third-most receiving yards in the NFL, Aaron Ross doesn't have much leverage to work with. The secondary did come together at the end of the season to help bring home another Lombardi Trophy to the Legacy Club.
With the front office pinching pennies, Ross might find himself elsewhere in the 2012 season. With the addition of Prince Amukamara, first round pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, Ross' price tag might be more than the Big Blue management is willing to spend, especially given the fact that the Prince Of New York works for much less. Ross has spent his entire five-year career draped in a Blue jersey. Two Super Bowl rings in five years and an expired contract - do you strut 'em or cut 'em?
The next player up is another reason why Ross might not be back, Terrell Thomas. Sidelined for the entire 2011 season with an acute cruciate ligament tear, Thomas is due for a new contract. I think it is safe to say that this guy will see an increase in wages, despite missing all of last season. The ACL injury, which is about as common in the NFL as turf burn these days, is not as detrimental as it sounds. The advances that have been made with this procedure have come leaps and bounds, largely due to the redundant nature of the injury. Thomas will have no problems bouncing back and continuing a career that was headed for greatness. In 2010, he recorded one-hundred and one tackles, which not only made him the leading tackler for the Giants, it also put him in the top ten throughout the league amongst the defensive backs.
Of course, the front office could make the argument that Thomas was injured and they don't know how well he will respond to the surgery and rehab. This is a common bargaining chip. Thomas has proved his worth, but he is in a tricky predicament at the same time. He did have the injury and he has some serious competition on who gets paid and who doesn't. With all of the big names on this team, who will be looking for a buck or two more and stay on the team - do you strut 'em or cut 'em?
Will Blackmon has been with the Giants for the last two seasons. It is reported that in 2010 he was paid $1.2 million dollars. Last year, the reports say he took a paycut, like many players on the roster. Blackmon reportedly made anywhere from five-hundred to seven-hundred thousand dollars. That is a lot of money to pay someone who only recorded eight combined tackles, never started a game and only played eleven total games - this in the course of two season with the G-Men. He spent the first four years of his career with the Green Bay Packers, only having started two games in that span. He's also had his share of injuries. This, my friends, is good work if you can find it. Will Blackmon, do you strut 'em or cut 'em?
Bruce Johnson, Michael Coe and Justin Tryon are the other half of the defensive backs on the chopping block. Coe and Tryon are both going into their fifth season in the league. Johnson is heading into his fourth and is a restricted free agent. Each one of these backs are making a little over half-a-million dollars. Johnson has shown some signs that he can be an effective player. Tryon has done the same. Both of these guys are little more than third stringers. Coe, on the other hand, hasn't shown much of anything. Having to sit out the entire 2008 season with a knee injury and a recurring shoulder injury in his bag of tricks, Coe really hasn't had much of an NFL career to speak of. Which makes one wonder why he still has a spot on this Giants team. Michael Coe, Justin Tryon, Bruce Johnson - do you strut 'em or cut 'em?
And now for that very special dude I mentioned at the beginning of this article - Steve Weatherford. Yes, Giants fans, Steve Weatherford, that motherflippin' Super Bowl champion punter is on the market. I don't need to remind anyone of the horrors of Matt Dodge from 2010. Compared to Dodge, Weatherford is a God. The guy has a leg, a sense of humor and a great team spirit. His directional punting in the postseason was top notch. He quickly became a fan favorite.
Weatherford reportedly earned seven-hundred thousand last season. It goes without saying that he will be looking for a little extra scratch. The irony of this free agency is that some guys will be taking a paycut while others are going to see a bump. Weatherford spent the 2009 and 2010 season with the New York Jets. The safe bet is that he is looking to stay put, having made some roots here already. The question is, does management feel the same way? Steve Weatherford, the planker extraordinaire - do you strut 'em or cut 'em?