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Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Big Blue Morning: The plan at safety

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

We talked Monday about New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning's contract, and the fact that a higher-than-anticipated 2014 salary cap makes it less imperative for the Giants to extend Manning this offseason for cap relief. Another highly paid veteran Giant whose contract situation is impacted here is safety Antrel Rolle, who was the Giants' only Pro Bowl representative this season.

Rolle
Rolle, 31, carries a $9.25 million salary cap number for 2014, which is the final year of the five-year, $37.1 million contract he signed with the Giants prior to the 2010 season. That's a whopper of a number, but the Giants seem unbothered by it. The people to whom I've spoken about this situation say the Giants would be willing to talk about an extension with Rolle because they like having him around and would be interested in keeping him beyond this year at the right price, but that they don't feel the need to extend him for 2014 cap relief. The Giants have shown a willingness to pay a premium for players they feel are worth it, and they feel Rolle's 2013 performance in his first year as a defensive captain justifies his salary. With the possibility of fellow defensive leaders Justin Tuck, Jon Beason and Terrell Thomas leaving via free agency, keeping Rolle around may be vital from a leadership standpoint.

So while I viewed Rolle as a question mark for the Giants when the offseason began due to the finances, it does not appear as though the Giants view him as one. And what the Giants think matters more here than what I think. I don't expect Rolle will be asked to take a pay cut, and I don't expect him to go anywhere.

The situation at safety around Rolle and the future of the position for the Giants are intertwined. It's a rare spot at which they believe they have some quality depth. Will Hill looked like the best player in their secondary at times last year (Rolle included). Ryan Mundy looked like a guy who can fill a valuable role off the bench or as an emergency starter. And Stevie Brown, who was slated to start alongside Rolle following his eight-interception 2012 season, is expected back from his torn ACL and should compete with Hill for a starting spot.

If Brown comes back healthy and continues to develop the way he was developing before his injury, and if Hill stays out of the kind of off-field trouble he's had since college, the Giants could be set at safety for 2015 and beyond even without Rolle. For now, though, those are two big "if"s, and even more reason the Giants are likely to pay Rolle what his contract schedules him to earn.