After leading the team to their second Super Bowl in five seasons, the New York Giants defensive line crashed back down to earth in 2012. Not only did Big Blue's trio of Pro Bowl caliber defensive ends fail to wreak havoc on opposing offenses, but the middle of the defense was about as soft as they come. Although defensive tackle Chris Canty showed considerable improvement in 2011, his injury plagued 2012 campaign has many wondering if he will be on the roster next season.
For the right price, Canty is worth keeping around. He is 6'7" and 317 pounds. His size alone makes teams account for his presence in the middle of the defense. However, Canty's salary cap hit for 2013 is $8.2 million. If the Giants decide to cut him, they can recoup $6.5 million of salary cap room. Given Canty's history of back injuries and lack of production in 2012, his salary is currently above his market value. At the very least, Jerry Reese should look into restructuring Canty's contract to portray his overall value to the team.
However, it's not like the Giants have any bona fide replacements waiting in the wings either.
Marvin Austin was drafted in the second round of the 2011 draft, but missed the entire season with a torn pectoral muscle. In 2012, he made five tackles in limited playing time over eight games. This was Austin's first full season of football since 2009, as he missed his final season at North Carolina due to NCAA sanctions. It's entirely possible that Austin will further develop after going through a full training camp in 2013, which, due to health concerns, is an opportunity he has not been afforded since being drafted. However, at this point, the Giants can not count on Austin to step into a starting role next season. If he makes the team, he will more than likely see limited playing time.
Perhaps the most intriguing candidate to supplant Canty as a starter is Markus Kuhn. Kuhn is an undersized defensive tackle at 6'4" and 299 pounds; however, he looked impressive last season before tearing his ACL. Given his recent knee injury, it's too early to ordain him as the team's next starting defensive tackle. Not only does he have to further develop within Perry Fewell's scheme, but he has to prove his body is up to the task of playing increased snaps.
The Giants will have ample opportunities to scour the free agent market for a defensive tackle. Players such as Randy Starks and Henry Melton will likely be out of the Giants price range. Even if the Giants had the salary cap room to sign them, there are more pressing needs on this roster along the offensive line, at linebacker and even in the defensive backfield. However, the Giants may be able to take a chance that a guy like Glenn Dorsey can finally stay healthy. Unless the best player available on the Giants draft board is a defensive tackle, there is not going to be a perfect solution found at the defensive tackle position this offseason.
The likely path that the Giants will take with Chris Canty will be to approach him about restructuring his contract. At the right price, the team will be able to make room for him on the roster. If he can stay healthy next season, there is no reason why he can not rebound and get back to producing the way he did in 2011. It would be prudent to bring in another low cost free agent for depth, but the Giants have bigger issues to solve than at defensive tackle right now.
Also…Carolina, Chris Canty, contract, Football, free agent, Jerry Reese, Markus Kuhn, Marvin Austin, New York, New York Giants, NFL, North Carolina, Perry Fewell, Super Bowl