Thursday, July 28, 2011
Updated: July 29, 2:37 PM ET
Giants cut Shaun O'Hara, Rich Seubert
By Ohm Youngmisuk
Shaun O'Hara was stunned and "sick to his stomach."
His good friend Rich Seubert had called on Tuesday to tell the veteran center the New York Giants were going to release Seubert after 10 seasons.
"I was so upset I really wasn't thinking about myself," O'Hara said on a conference call with reporters on Thursday. "It was like Richie fell in a hole and I was so worried about him that I fell in the same one."
The Giants said a painful farewell to two longtime favorites on the offensive line when they released O'Hara and Seubert, a guard. The Giants also officially cut left tackle Shawn Andrews, fullback Madison Hedgecock and running back Tiki Barber, who was on the reserve/retired list, on Thursday. Defensive tackle Rocky Bernard is expected to be released Friday after being unable to come to an agreement to restructure his contract.
Cuts are always difficult. But they are particularly gut-wrenching when a team has to sever ties with two players who have been fixtures on the offensive line.
"I love those two guys," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "Both will go down in Giants history. They are two unique, highly competitive personalities who were superior in the locker room. Rich has the ability to stir it up, and Shaun has a great ability to counter Rich.
"They are great friends, but there have been times when they got going, that it nearly ended up in a fight. They are two men with unique and different abilities, but as an offensive line, you have to operate as one, and these two guys are the most competitive, tough and efficient players as I have ever had the honor and privilege to coach. They both will be missed around here."
O'Hara had been the Giants' starting center since 2004. In Seubert's 10 years with the Giants, the gritty guard played in 104 regular-season games and overcame numerous injuries, including a triple fracture to his right leg suffered against Philadelphia on Oct. 19, 2003. Seubert missed all of 2004 but returned in 2005.
"We were both pretty emotional about it when it happened," O'Hara said. "I don't think either one of us want to see the other guy go through it but we do have a drinking buddy right now."
The Giants have been trying to free up salary-cap space to re-sign their own free agents like running back Ahmad Bradshaw, wide receiver Steve Smith and tight end Kevin Boss.
The Giants were having discussions with running back Brandon Jacobs about restructuring his deal, which has a base number of $4.65 million this season.
They did agree to terms to bring back defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka and exchanged contract proposals with Boss, according to league sources.
"We are trying to re-sign as many of our free agents as we can and we are looking to the free-agent market for other needs that we have," team CEO and co-owner John Mara said on the Mike Lupica show on ESPN New York 1050. "And I am not entirely convinced at all that is going to work at this point either. So we got a long way to go.
"We are trying to do something with Bradshaw but I am not sure where that is going to go."
O'Hara isn't sure what his next move will be. His head is still spinning after being released. O'Hara, 34, underwent ankle and foot surgeries in an effort to return and felt that he was on track to be ready for the season opener.
While he said he feels as fresh as he has been in a while, O'Hara thought there was a chance he could have started camp on the physically unable to perform list.
Seubert, 32, is still recovering from January surgery to repair his kneecap and patella and medial collateral ligament. He suffered the injury in the final game of the season. Prior to that, he had filled in so well at center in place of O'Hara that general manager Jerry Reese called Seubert the team's MVP.
O'Hara said he was not told whether his release came because of his health or contract or both.
O'Hara missed 10 games last season with ankle, Achilles and foot injuries. He suffered his first ankle/Achilles injuries after the first two weeks but did not undergo surgery in an effort to return and play that season. He missed three weeks before returning to play in two games only to suffer a foot injury that forced him out of six games.
O'Hara did not rule out a potential return to the team down the road. But he also said he has been contacted by a few teams and will take some time to figure out his future.
"They did say that the door is always open, I'm always welcome to come by to say hi and they definitely said that you never know what will happen," O'Hara said. "So I could hear from them in a couple of weeks or a couple of months. That definitely is a possibility but it is not something I am sitting here waiting by the phone for."
The Giants have agreed to terms with San Francisco center/guard David Baas. Mara said Baas will fortify the Giants' center position. Without O'Hara, Seubert and Andrews, Eli Manning's offensive line could be Will Beatty at left tackle, David Diehl at left guard, Baas at center, Chris Snee at right guard and Kareem McKenzie at right tackle. The Giants also have guard Mitch Petrus and guard Kevin Boothe.
But Manning's offensive line has undergone a drastic makeover.
"They've been great teammates of mine for my whole career here," Manning said on Tuesday of his good friends O'Hara and Seubert. "We've had a great run together and won a lot of games.
"They're two great characters, two great teammates and two great leaders. It's a sad day."
O'Hara will still need time to figure out his life, as he's without the Giants for the first time since 2004.
"I'm extremely grateful to the Giants organization for bringing me home, being a Jersey guy," O'Hara said. "I especially owe a huge debt of gratitude to (offensive-line coach) Pat Flaherty, he was the one who stuck his neck out for me. And certainly Coach Coughlin had a lot to do with that as well. They brought me in 2004 when nobody heard of me or knew who I was. We won a Super Bowl, I wish we could have won more but that's life. I especially want to thank the fans, they have always been supportive throughout my career. It was a great ride."
Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com.