The New York Giants will mostly likely receive a fresh coat of paint in 2013…starting with the defensive back unit.
Antrel Rolle: Unsung Hero
Antrel Rolle is the leader of that group and by far the most talented. He led the team with 96 tackles and comes to play every Sunday. He has been the most unselfish guy on the field playing 3 different positions and the New York Giants are fortunate to have him.
However, this team can not win with Antrel Rolle and the current cast of characters that are the Giants corners and safeties. Changes are coming.
Corey Webster: Pay Cut or be Cut
Lets start with corner back Corey Webster. It is clear that he can no longer turn on the jets and run side by side with a fast receiver. The entire NFL saw how lost he was in the Ravens game against a very young, inexperienced but talented receiver. For the past 4 years Webster has benefited from a great pass rush allowing his time in coverage to be very short.
With out the rush…Webster is an average corner; however, he is being compensated like a top-tier corner. Next season will be the last year of a six-year deal that was signed in 2008. 7 million dollars is Webster’s 2013 salary. He will have to take a significant pay cut or likely be released.
While the Giants can not afford a 7 million dollar cover corner who doesn’t tackle, and can’t find the ball while it’s in the air…they also do not have someone to take his place. That is a problem.
Jayron Hosley: Webster’s Replacement?
Hosley who most would consider Webster’s successor is much too small to body up against the likes of Julio Jones, Brandon Marshall and Dez Bryant. Hosley who has very good tackling and ball skills will come into camp penciled in as the starting nickel or dime corner. His skill set is very similar to Atlanta Falcon corner back, Asante Samuel. He has a great first step to the ball.
Kenny Phillips: Done!
At the safety position the Giants will face a few major off-season situations. The biggest decisions could be what to do with former 1st round pick Kenny Phillips. While the safety made a grand comeback from a major knee injury in 2009, he has never come close to the hard-hitting player the Giants thought they were drafting.
Phillips is now a Free Agent and by his comments made this past November about his MCL rehab, one would think it is time to part ways with another disgruntled No. 21.
The good news…fans won’t have to sit around and wonder when his “break out” season was ever going to come. Too many people fell in love with his “potential”. That “potential” was left in Miami. Phillips was a nice player but in 5 years he never had over 60 tackles. His interception total in 5 years was 8.
Stevie Brown: Ball Hawk
Phillips replacement, Stevie Brown had 8 interceptions for 307 return yards and 76 tackles. Brown didn’t start for an injured Phillips until week 4 and is considered the Giants 2012 Defensive MVP. In April 2012, the popular NBC Sports site…Roto World stated, “Brown isn’t much of a safety prospect, but the Giants will give him a chance to win a spot on special teams.”
Let them eat crow! 2x NFC Defensive Player of the Week
Terrell Thomas: Long road to recovery
Another developing story stars fan favorite, Terrell Thomas. The injured Giants corner back is rehabbing from back to back ACL injuries and his third during his football career(USC). There is a good chance the Giants cut the 2010 leading tackler only to resign him at a lower cost. ESPN New York reported that Giants GM Jerry Reese has also expressed that he would like Thomas to make a move to safety if he can come back.
As much as everyone would like to see Thomas fully recover and contribute, the odds are stacked against him. In the big picture…it looks like it doesn’t matter much because rookie Will Hill stepped in and brought some nastiness to the Giants defensive backfield. The hard-hitting safety had 23 tackles in the last 4 games and showed he can start in this league.
In 2013, Hill will join Rolle and Brown in the 3 safety package. Deon Grant used to occupy this place. Will Hill brings youth, speed and a true big hitting ability. Phillips will not be back and Tyler Sash could be on the bubble.
Prince: Nice Strides
At the other corner back spot Prince Amukamara started to develop into a nice player. He is not flashy, yet seems to be around the ball for the most part. In eight years Corey Webster averaged 44 tackles a year. The Prince, in his first year starting had 53 tackles. The knock on No. 20 is his durability. Prince has missed more playing time than expected and the first round draft pick might have to get some off season training in toughness.
Next season you will most likely see the Giants without Phillips, Thomas, Webster, Sash and Justin Tryron. General Manager Jerry Reese and the Giants brass need to open up the check book with money they saved on Tuck, Canty and Bradshaw restructuring and sign a real corner back.
ie: Sean Smith(Miami) and Tracey Porter(Denver).
– Craig J Santucci – Giants Rush Senior Editor