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Sunday, March 1, 2009
Cowboys' Canty receives Giant deal

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

The New York Giants turned to a familiar face on the third day of free agency Sunday. They have faced Cowboys defensive end Chris Canty eight times over the past four seasons and remembered how disruptive he could be.

 
  Paul Jasienski/Getty Images
  The Giants plan to move 6-foot-7 Chris Canty to defensive tackle.

That's why they agreed to terms on a six-year, $42 million contract with the unrestricted free agent earlier this afternoon. According to a source close to the negotiations, $17.25 million of the contract is guaranteed.

That's a lot to pay a man who has only amassed 10 sacks in four seasons, but the Giants are actually projecting Canty as a defensive tackle in their 4-3 scheme. The Cowboys weren't thrilled with losing Canty, but they couldn't come close to paying the $7 million per year he'll make with the Giants. Dallas is focused on signing outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware to a long-term deal, and the Redskins didn't do anything to help when they sent the Brinks truck to Albert Haynesworth's spring home.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin has coveted Canty for years. He watched him play for his friend Al Groh at the University of Virginia and then saw Bill Parcells select him in the fourth round of the 2005 draft. Canty's draft stock plummeted because of an eye injury that occurred when someone threw a bottle in a nightclub.

Canty came back from the injury sooner than doctors predicted and it's never given him a problem. And over the past four years, he's proved to be a high character guy for the Cowboys. I've spoken with his parents in the past. His mother is a Methodist minister in Charlotte, N.C., and Canty used to sing in her church's choir.

Given his salary, it's not much of a leap to suggest that Canty will immediately become a starter at defensive tackle. Last year, the Giants watched the body of 31-year-old Fred Robbins break down after a quick start. I would think Canty will replace Robbins in the starting lineup and play next to Barry Cofield or Rocky Bernard.

The Giants love the fact that Canty can play two positions. They'll move him to defensive end when they need to load up against the run. Some people thought Canty's asking price in free agency ($8 million per year) was a little steep, but he came pretty close. And something tells me Canty might find another gear in the two games against the Cowboys each year.

I thought Canty was poised to become a Pro Bowl player heading into the 2008 season, but that didn't pan out. Now, he'll have a clean slate with the Giants. I didn't think they would have the cap room to land both Canty and Bernard, but it all worked out.

A lot of folks are giving the Redskins the early lead in free-agency moves, but the Giants have been more efficient. Michael Boley, Bernard and Canty will help fortify a defense that lost its bite last December.

Don't underestimate Canty's relationship with Groh and Bill Parcells in this signing. General manager Jerry Reese is the one who pulled the trigger, but I assure you that Coughlin has been in his ear about Canty for months.