Over the next couple of months, the free agents that are currently on the New York Giants will be heavily discussed; linebacker Jon Beason and wide receiver Hakeem Nicks have been two of the primary ones already talked about, but one that may need to rank near the top is defensive tackle Linval Joseph.
The 25-year-old Joseph has been a regular starter on defense since the 2011 season and a fixture in the defensive tackle rotation since being drafted back in 2010, but with that kind of play usually comes the massive payday and with the Giants salary cap situation in a bit of uncertainty due to guys either needing to restructure, take pay cuts, be released or simply retire, the Giants won't know what they are working with until the 2013 season truly is over with and one team is hoisting the Lombardi trophy on their own field in three weeks.
A couple of years ago, former Giant Barry Cofield got very good money on the free agent market from the Washington Redskins when he signed a six-year, $36 million deal back in 2011; a deal that allowed Joseph to jump into the starting lineup and thrive in the role. Now that Joseph is the veteran on the verge of getting the big payday, the team has to figure out if he's worth forking over the kind of money Cofield got three years ago, or simply going with last year's draft pick, Johnathan Hankins, as the new starter next to Cullen Jenkins.
"All of this brings us back to Joseph. At 25 and in the prime of his year, he’ll command at least $35 to $40 million (former Giants defensive tackle Barry Coffield signed a six-year, $36-million deal with Washington in 2011) on the open market this offseason. The Giants have yet another tough decision to make. The team feels second-year pro Johnathan Hankins can fill the void and he has the look of a good one. But the Giants shouldn’t just give up on Joseph without a fight," read The Star-Ledger on Sunday.
Five years ago, the Giants signed Chris Canty to a six-year, $42 million deal, luring him away from the Dallas Cowboys to take the starting role on the defensive line and when he was on the field, Canty was a very effective player, but his health was a major reason why the Giants cut him loose after year four of that contract and went with a cheaper and more reliable option in Jenkins. The Giants could shell out the money for Jospeh as well this winter, but they also have greater needs on the team to fill, so they might not be as willing to give out $40 million in a deal for their former second round draft pick.
If Joseph were willing to go towards the $35 million range; taking slightly less to stay with the Giants and allow them to use money to add key players to the team, and maybe even use some of that money to re-sign Justin Tuck as well for another season, then it might be a good move to make. But if Joseph makes high demands and wants to test the market, then it might be time to see what Hankins can give the Giants as a full-time starter in 2014.
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