We have been talking all week about New York Giants players who could be in jeopardy as the team cuts salary and begins shaping its roster for the 2013 season. Let's debate another name today -- highly-paid safety Antrel Rolle.
The first three players we discussed earlier this week -- Michael Boley, Ahmad Bradshaw and Chris Canty -- were, of course, released earlier this week. On Thursday, we discussed David Diehl, Corey Webster and Justin Tuck -- with my thinking that Diehl and Webster are the two players in that group who could be in jeopardy.
Today, let's talk about Rolle. We have to do it because the Giants are still in a salary cap bind, only about $2 million under the cap at this moment with several of their own big-name players to re-sign and 19 players about to become unrestricted free agents, and Rolle has a base salary of $7 million. That, incidentally, is equal to Webster's 2013 salary. The difference being Rolle has two years left on the five-year, $37 million contract he signed with the Giants while Webster is in the final year of his deal.
Let me be clear here. I do not believe Rolle is going anywhere, nor do I believe he should.
Sure, Rolle is overpaid. He is paid like a premier safety, a perennial All-Pro. He has never been that and has probably been overpaid since the day he signed his Giants contract. The Giants, though, did what they had to do when the signed him. After suffering through a season of watching C.C. Brown and Aaron Rouse pretend to be NFL-caliber safeties they paid the asking price to bring in a legitimate one.
Rolle may or may not be a great player, what you think of his skills is for you to decide. He is, at the least, a good one. Probably more importantly to the Giants, he is the vocal leader -- the heartbeat -- of the Giants' defense. That comment comes with apologies to defensive captain Justin Tuck, but Tuck seems to have been lost in a fog the past couple of seasons while trying to figure out where his own career is going, while Rolle has become the voice of the defense.
The Giants have already cut away a big chunk of their heart this week -- especially with the loss of Bradshaw. Canty was also a locker room leader. Guys like Chase Blackburn, Kenny Phillips and Osi Umenyiora were all locker room or on-field leaders in various ways and all are unrestricted free agents.
Yes, the Giants need money to re-structure their roster. How much more of their heart can they afford to lose, however?
Rolle seems to be an obvious candidate for re-structuring of his contract. He has already received the $15 million his contract guaranteed. It makes sense for the Giants to ask Rolle to re-structure, lowering his base salary in return for another year or two added to his deal.
To win in 2013, and with the Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium next season you have to believe the Giants want desperately to do that, keeping Rolle makes a lot more sense than cutting him. At least that's how I see it.
Your thoughts, Giants' fans? Vote in the poll.