- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Walter Thurmond says the New York Giants offered him a three-year contract, but he wanted a one-year deal instead. It's not as crazy as it sounds. NFL contracts aren't guaranteed to begin with, cornerback salaries are skyrocketing and the salary cap's going up again next year. Why not bet on yourself, have a big year in New York and really try to hit it big a year from now?
"Just kind of a prove-it situation," Thurmond said Thursday. "I don't want to say 'put pressure on myself,' because I like to think I thrive under pressure. But it's a situation where I just felt like I have stuff to prove, and it keeps me going."
Whatever he's doing, the Giants will take more and more of it. Thurmond is slated to be the Giants' nickel cornerback this year, with Prince Amukamara and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie starting on the outside. Anyone who watched the Seahawks last year during their Super Bowl run knows that Thurmond is an elite nickel corner. He could certainly handle outside responsibilities as well if one of the starters went down. But he enjoys mixing it up in the middle of the field.
"You're a cornerback, but you're also a linebacker and a safety," Thurmond said of the nickel role. "So you have multiple different role responsibilities that you have to accomplish while you're on the field. And that's why, sometimes, it's hard for a corner to transition from outside to going inside. But I love the job."
He's also not worried about the Giants or other potential future employers pigeonholing him as just a slot-corner type.
"Most definitely, I think I'm just an overall cornerback," he said. "I'm a person that can go outside, I can go inside, I can blitz off the edge, I can come in on run support, I can go play the half-field. We do so many coverages here. And I pride myself on that, because a lot of cornerbacks in this league can't do that. And being able to have that ability brings value to the team and also allows the defensive coordinator to be more creative."
So far in camp, Thurmond has delivered on all of that. Defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka was raving the other day about Thurmond, telling me he's never seen a cornerback better at transitioning with his hips from a backpedal into coverage. Thurmond laughed a bit when he heard that. He guesses it makes him something of a throwback.
"That's just being a cornerback," the 5-foot-11 corner said. "That's what a cornerback has to have, is fluid hips. Now, lately there's been a trend of having big corners, but some of the bigger guys don't have the fluidness of the hips just because of their center of gravity. But I've always prided myself on great technique and being fluid in my transitions, and that helps me do the job to the best of my ability."