The New York Giants made official Wednesday what has been known for a couple of days -- they have waived David Baas, their starting center since 2011. Baas was waived/failed physical.
Baas, 32, helped the Giants win a Super Bowl in 2011, but had an injury-plagued tenure with the Giants, battling neck and knee problems. He was limited to only three games last season. According to the release from the Giants neither his neck nor his knee are currently healthy enough to allow him to play football.
"It's been a tough road with injuries," Baas said. "I've been able to battle through them for most of the time."
"I haven't lost that drive, I haven't lost that desire to play football. But sometimes other things are more important, and we've come to that crossroads. The thing that takes precedence right now is my health."
Baas said his knee is taking longer to heal than he hoped, and he may still need neck surgery.
"I love the game of football," he said. "My heart is still into it, but sometimes you've got to put your health and your future with your family and all that stuff first. We're just gathering all the information right now and we'll see. The Giants had to do what they had to do, and now I can focus on getting my knee better and I can also really gather all my information that I need for my neck and figure out what the best decision is."
The Giants reportedly designated Baas a post-June 1 cut. That means they save $5 million against the salary cap after June 1, but nothing until that time.
For the Giants, the question is who takes over at the center position?
As free agency began the Giants were linked to free-agent centers Evan Dietrich-Smith of the Green Bay Packers and Brian De La Puente of the New Orleans Saints. Reports have indicated, however, that signing either player appears to be unlikely.
The most obvious course of action, if that turns out to be the case, would be for the Giants to re-sign free agent Kevin Boothe to play center. Boothe, of course, was a starting guard for the Giants since the middle of the 2012 season, but has played quite a bit of center due to the injuries to Baas. He shuffled between left guard and center last season.
The notion of Boothe being the center in 2014 has been greeted with jeers by many Giants' fans. Reality, however, is that it is not a bad option at all.
Forget last season's negative Pro Football Focus numbers (for the record, -11.3). Boothe, who will be 31 next season, had an outstanding season for the Giants in 2012 (+9.2 PFF grade) and is a reliable player.
Before criticizing Boothe, or the idea of him playing center in 2014, remember what was going on around him. Will Beatty had a horrible year at left tackle. Baas did not play well, then missed the final 13 games. The inexperienced Jim Cordle took over at center, forcing Boothe to help Cordle make line calls. There was instability at right guard. There was the shuffling to center, with the inexperienced James Brewer playing to his left and the willing, but broken-down David Diehl playing to his right.
If the Giants choose to go with Boothe at center rather than exploring other free-agent options, perhaps that also indicates that they will look to the middle rounds of the draft in an effort to find a long-term answer at the position. There are several mid-round type centers in the 2014 NFL Draft class.