Justin Tuck told the New York Daily News on Friday that he signed with the Oakland Raiders because he felt like the New York Giants "didn't really want me at all."
Told told both the Daily News and the New York Post that the Giants had initially made an offer of tow years and about $6 million -- an offer he thought "was pretty much disrespectful."
When he gave the Giants an opportunity to bid against the Raiders' offer it took the Giants 15 minutes or less to decline to do so, according to Tuck.
"They wouldn't have had to match it," Tuck said. "You know, at the beginning of free agency I'm going in thinking I'm not looking for a lot. I understand the Giants have a lot of holes to fill. If they were trying to sign me before free agency hit, or at least were trying to communicate with us, then I probably would've took somewhere around a two-year deal, $8 million, somewhere around there.
"But it wasn't even like that. It was like they weren't even trying to get me back. That made my mind up for me."
Tuck, after nine years and two Super Bowl titles, is obviously hurt. He told the Post:
"I’m really not mad. I’m surprised. I think everybody who knows me knows I try to do things the right way. I’ve tried to do things the so-called ‘Giant Way’ and I thought that meant something. I’m frustrated and a little puzzled to realize in the end it really didn’t. Or it didn’t mean as much to them as I thought it should have. They made a tough decision to part ways with me, and I made the right decision to go somewhere else.’’
Tuck has every right to be hurt or disappointed. You or I would be, too, if we were in his shoes. No one, including Tuck, should be surprised at the Giants' hard line, however.
The NFL is the big kid on the sports block -- the richest, most popular kid in town. NFL teams, though, don't just give away their riches. This isn't baseball, where players get guaranteed contracts for what they used to be able to do and make oodles of money long after they are actually earning it. There is a hard cap in the NFL, contracts aren't guaranteed, and players are paid based on what teams think they can do for them now.
The Giants made the harsh judgment that going forward Tuck, soon to be 31, was more likely to give them the so-so work he turned in during the 2011 and 2012 seasons than the resurgent 11-sack season he turned in during 2013.
Tuck, of course, aims to prove the Giants wrong, telling the Post:
"They're scouts, so they know what's best,'' Tuck said dryly, alluding to Reese, who came up through the ranks as a scout. "It's my position now to prove them wrong.''
We'll see how it turns out. No one, however, should be surprised that the relationship between Tuck and the Giants ended this way.