One of the items that remains on the New York Giants' to-do list this offseason is 'sign a veteran safety.' So, naturally, the question that gets asked is 'why haven't the Giants re-signed Stevie Brown yet?' Well, let's try to examine what we know and see if we can shed some light on that one.
We know that the Giants do not have a safety on their roster who has started an NFL game. We know they like Nat Berhe and Cooper Taylor a lot, but we also know that going into a season with zero players who have started an NFL game at safety might not be the smartest idea. We know that there has been constant communication between Brown's representatives and the Giants.
So, why hasn't Brown put pen to paper so that the Giants could check the 'sign a veteran safety' item off that to-do list? Like so many things in life, and in professional sports, money has something to do with it.
The Giants were willing to go to the wall to try and lure safety Devin McCourty away from the New England Patriots. They might have even offered the former Rutgers star more than the five-year, $47.5 million deal he accepted to return to the Patriots. We will never be certain exactly what the Giants offered McCourty.
What we're finding out after the Giants lost out on McCourty and let Antrel Rolle sign with the Chicago Bears is that the Giants don't seem to think there are any other safeties on the market worth spending real money on.
A source tells Big Blue View that the Giants are basically low-balling the 27-year-old Brown, offering a deal at or close to the veteran minimum and refusing thus far to budge from that.
Perhaps the Giants' thinking is that there is little difference talent-wise between Brown and any of the other safeties still available on the free-agent market. Or, that even with the 2015 draft class being weak at safety they would be just as well-served by adding safety depth in the draft. The Giants have even talked about moving cornerback Bennett Jackson, whose status is clouded by micro-fracture knee surgery, or Chykie Brown, a less-than-stellar cornerback, to safety.
Why all this disrespect for Brown?
Well, the painful truth is that as popular a player as Brown is it is not difficult to make an argument that Brown may have been the worst safety in the league -- at least against the pass -- in 2014.
Of 87 safeties who played at least 25 percent of their team's snaps last season, Brown's passer rating against was a league-worst 152.6. That's 15 points worse than the 86th-place finisher, Brandon Meriweather. Which means Brown's pass defense was bad. Really bad.
Brown averaged 25 yards per reception allowed, again worst in the league among safeties graded by Pro Football Focus. He was 62nd in snaps played, but 24th in passing yards allowed. He surrendered an average of 11.3 yards after each catch. That means guys he was supposed to be covering were wide open way too often, and Brown was in chase mode.
Brown was directly targeted 17 times, giving up 12 completions.
Basically, when teams wanted to target Brown they had their way with him. And the yards per catch shows that those completions were incredibly damaging to the Giants.
Now, of course Brown was in his first season back in action after missing all of 2013 due to a torn ACL. You can argue that while he might have been a step slower in 2014 that he should be back to full strength next season.
In 2012, Brown burst upon the scene for the Giants and intercepted eight passes. He had a 71.3 passer rating against and gave up just an average of just 5.4 yards after catch.
Can Brown return to that level? Nobody knows for sure, and it will require a leap of faith for the Giants to try to find out. You can argue that another year removed from surgery he should be healthier. Maybe. Some analysts have told Big Blue View they believe Brown is no longer a starting-caliber safety in the NFL. Paul Dottino of WFAN pointed out that Brown is still recuperating from foot surgery, so perhaps that is giving the Giants pause.
The view here is that I would like to see the Giants bring Brown back for a year and let him compete. What are the other choices on the picked-over free-agent market? A few aging players hanging on to their careers. A handful of players who have never been able to snag starting jobs in other places. At least with Brown we have seen that there is -- or at least there was not that long ago -- a relatively good upside. And he isn't old by NFL standards, turning 28 this summer.
Will Brown eventually get another chance with the Giants? Maybe. What appears certain, though, is that the Giants aren't willing to offer much money to give him that chance.