Safety nets

March 8, 2010

Giants signed Antrel Rolle; Cardinals swooped Rhodes from Jets

The New York football Giants matched the Jets acquisition of Antonio Cromartie with the signing of Antrel Rolle to recapture the football headlines this weekend in New York.  The deal with the former Arizona Cardinal safety was the first step in revamping what was one of the NFL’s worst defenses in 2009.  

The 27-year-old Rolle was released by the Cardinals last week after 5 seasons in the desert.  The 6-foot, 210 pounder was originally drafted as a cornerback out of Miami before switching positions.  Antrel has twelve career interceptions and four of those have been returned to the house for scores. 

“Antrel is a young, ascending veteran player, and he is an outstanding person who will bring leadership, versatility and more big play ability to our secondary,” general manager Jerry Reese said in a statement.

Rolle signed a five-year, $37 million contract that has $15 million in guaranteed money, making him the highest paid safety in the NFL. 

Certainly the talented safety was brought in because he will immediately improve Big Blue’s defensive unit in ’10.  But he was also signed because of the uncertainty regarding Kenny Phillips and his return from injury.  It has been reported that Phillips is not doing well with his rehab and could be slowed down at the start of the season, despite both the Giants and Phillips assuring the public that the knee rehab is on schedule. 

What makes the Giants’ statements regarding Kenny’s knee injury seem dubious is the fact that both Phillips and Rolle play the same position.  

Although I watch plenty of football, and dabbled a little playing the sport during my younger years, I have no idea the difference between free and strong safety.   

Let me re-phrase that:  I have no idea how hard it is for a free-safety to change positions and become a strong-safety. 

And that  leaves me to wonder- Will the Giants take Taylor Mays or Earl Thomas if either player falls to them in the draft?  Will Phillips and Rolle split snaps?  Or will one of them make the switch and turn the back-end of the Giants secondary into Miami of the North?

The Arizona Cardinals, now void of a free safety, traded for Kerry Rhodes  late Saturday night.   Gang Green reportedly had enough with Kerry Rhodes and his soft play last season. 

After going on ESPN Radio Friday night and saying Rhodes would be a Jet in 2010, GM Mike Tannenbaum traded “Hollywood” for a 4th-round pick in 2010’s draft, and a 7th-rounder in 2011. 
Kerry Rhodes currently has 4 years left on his contract and this trade was accelerated due to the $2 million dollar roster bonus he was due to receive this coming week.   The Cardinals were desperate to add a piece to their defense as well, after losing both Antrel Rolle and Karlos Dansby. 

In my opinion, the Jets had no choice but to ship Rhodes out of town after last season’s atrocious output and the “bitch-like” demeanor that Kerry carried around.  The safety was supposed to be a leader on the Jets defense, and was compared to Ed Reed by his head coach Rex Ryan prior to the 2009 season.  Nevertheless, Rhodes did not even force a turnover in the first 11 games, and was rightfully benched as a result.  His tackling was also laughable, and there were times where he appeared to shy away from contact.   

Gang Green’s defense is built around an aggressive, tenacious style that wants to impose its will on the opposing team. Kerry Rhodes brought none of that to the table, which frustrated the entire coaching staff as well as the fans.  Although Rhodes did play well after his demotion, the writing was still on the wall for the former pro-bowler. 
The acquisition of Cromartie leads me to guess that the Jets won’t draft a cornerback early in the upcoming draft.  While I was hoping they would take a pass rushing OLB or DE, I wouldn’t be surprised if Tannenbaum and Rex now take a strong look at Taylor Mays out of USC.  Mays can apparently play both safety positions and is expected to be a mid to late first-round pick.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: