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Gamble with ex-Giant Walter Thurmond paying off for Eagles

Converted corner thriving at safety in Philly.

Walter Thurmond
Walter Thurmond
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Walter Thurmond, who played in just two games for the New York Giants last season before landing on injured reserve with a pectoral injury, is now starting -- and starring -- at safety for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Considering what the Giants have gone through at the safety position this season, there are probably two adjectives that describe that scenario. Ironic. And annoying.

You know the deal with the Giants at safety. They let Antrel Rolle, Stevie Brown and Quintin Demps go, then started from scratch. They drafted Landon Collins and Mykkele Thompson. They they watched as Nat Berhe, Thompson and Bennett Jackson all suffered season-ending injuries. They tried Brown again and didn't like what they saw. They brought in veterans Brandon Meriweather and Craig Dahl. It's been a crazy, frantic ride trying to fill that spot.

All the while, Thurmond has been excelling at the position -- one he had never player before -- for the Eagles. With a need at safety and a surplus of cornerbacks, Chip Kelly and the Eagles moved Thurmond to the back of the defense and it has worked out.

"Walter has played well. Three interceptions, played the safety position, he comes down in the box, he tackles. He seems to do an outstanding job," Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said. "You would expect him to have outstanding range and he does. Played well."

The Giants knew Thurmond was a good player. It is why they were excited last season when he signed a one-year, $3 million deal to come to New York. Problem was, Thurmond played only two games before landing on injured reserve with a torn pectoral muscle.

The Giants wanted the 28-year-old back, but weren't willing to get into a bidding war for an often-injured player who, entering this season, had suited up for only 36 of 80 regular-season games during his career. When the Eagles offered Thurmond $3.25 million (more than he made in 2015 for playing two games) with $2 million guaranteed, there was no chance the Giants were going to go anywhere near that.

Thurmond has three interceptions, four passes defensed and a +7.2 Pro Football Focus grade after five games. He is looking forward to putting his knowledge of Eli Manning to use Monday night.

"To know what the offense actually does and how Eli plays after seeing him every day in practice, I’m used to his ability to look off safeties and where he wants to go with the ball," Thurmond said. That’s when he said, "I’m looking forward to playing this game."

Here was Brandon Lee Gowton of Bleeding Green Nation responding to a question about Thurmond in our "Five questions" segment:

"Thurmond's been really great. It's really amazing how this situation has worked out for the Eagles. After Nate Allen signed with the Raiders in free agency, no one had a clue who the starting safety next to Malcolm Jenkins might be. Now the Eagles arguably have one of the NFL's best starting safety tandems.

"To put it simply: Thurmond is a playmaker. He has three interceptions this season, and that doesn't come as a surprise. Thurmond made a ton of plays this summer. Even dating all the way back to organized team activities, Thurmond was always making plays on the ball. He's very comfortable in coverage and he's made some big run stops in the backfield as well."

The view here is that the Giants were absolutely right not to entertain a bidding war that would have forced them to give a raise to a player who suited up for two games in 2015. Now, though, the Giants can only hope Thurmond doesn't make them pay in a different way.