The New York Giants are not going to be able to bring back all their free-agents this offseason. It's a harsh reality that fans are going to have to come to grips with as the start of the league year approaches on March 12th. Even after cutting Michael Boley, Ahmad Bradshaw and Chris Canty, Big Blue is still reported to be over the salary cap. That means that not only are more moves coming, but there are going to be players that Jerry Reese will not be able to compete for on the open market.
Safety Kenny Phillips will likely to fall into that category. Today, Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer speculated on the Carolina Panthers potential interest in signing Phillips. Although the Panthers are facing salary cap issues of their own, their new general manager Dave Gettleman has spent the last 15 seasons as a senior analyst inside Big Blue's pro personnel office. Gettleman surely knows how much value Phillips can bring to a defense, which may peak the Panthers interest this March.
The Giants have depth at safety. With the emergence of Stevie Brown and Will Hill, Big Blue could still have three legitimate safeties on the roster even without re-signing Phillips. However, Phillips' physical stature, along with his ability to play over-the-top of receivers would be a devastating loss to the Giants defense. Phillips presence coincided with the Giants most successful defensive efforts this season. In the seven games Phillips was able to get on the field for, Big Blue gave up an average of just 16.9 points.
Without Phillips, the Giants will lack the experience necessary to have a stalwart defensive backfield. With a full season under their belts, Hill and Brown will undoubtedly begin to further grasp defensive coordinator Perry Fewell's scheme. Brown made a name for himself with eight interceptions this season, but he also had his fair share of blunders on the field. In particular, Brown was responsible for Cincinnati Bengals wideout AJ Green's 56-yard touchdown in a week eight blowout loss.
The Giants are likely going to have to choose between signing Will Beatty, Kevin Boothe, Kenny Phillips and Martellus Bennett. At best the team will be able to keep two of the four aforementioned players.
As we highlighted last week at Giants 101, the team can not afford to let Will Beatty go in free agency. Left tackles do not come around often, and barring another team grossly overpaying for Beatty's services, the Giants need to find a way to get him back in Blue in 2013. With the returning talent at safety, it's likely the team decided to pursue either Boothe or Bennett before Phillips comes into the equation.
Also…Ahmad Bradshaw, Carolina, Carolina Panthers, Cincinnati Bengals, Football, Kenny Phillips, Martellus Bennett, Michael Boley, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Perry Fewell, Stevie Brown, Will Beatty, Will Hill